Hello from Narjis, one of PiP’s top Fruitful trainees.

For anyone who is unfamiliar, Fruitful is a mouth-watering initiative from Pursuing Independent Paths (PiP). It provides a brilliant way for our students – adults with learning disabilities and autism – to gain super valuable life, vocational and communication skills – whilst getting actively involved in the community.

Fruitful follows a structured training programme designed to give trainees experience in customer service, hygiene, juice preparation, marketing and money skills. It’s a fantastic way for PiP students to showcase their talent and prove to the world that they can be a valuable asset to any organisation as a paid employee.

Meet the Trainees

Today, we got the opportunity to chat with a member of the team. Narjis has been at PiP for six years and she kindly fit some time in her busy Friday schedule – in between Fitness, lunch, Makaton and a Student Social! – to fill us in on all things Fruitful.

For Narjis, Fruitful is all about raising money for PiP and learning new juice recipes (her favourite is a classic apple). She’s learnt lots about preparing ingredients for juicing – including safe ways to chop fruit and veg.

As part of her Fruitful training, Narjis also learnt about what flavours work well together. Fruitful introduces trainees to new recipes, ingredients and processes, so that they can create popular products at NYGoodHealth that sell (and keep customers coming back for more…!)

Narjis is a big fan of the outdoor markets Fruitful attends. She particularly enjoys handing out leaflets and chatting to passers-by – as this provides an opportunity to make conversation and bring in more funds for PiP.

A key element of Fruitful involves learning to handle money responsibly. This means being able to confidently give the correct change and use the credit card machine. Narjis explained that working with money was something she particularly enjoyed about Fruitful – as she likes knowing that she’s making lots of money for PiP!

In the future, Narjis can imagine working in a job that involves helping people. She likes being out and about – maybe working in a market or a café – as this would combine her people skills with her knowledge of juice making and flavours. Like us, Narjis is keen to get back out into the community with Fruitful as soon as we can.

Thanks so much for your time Narjis!

Fruitful is always on the move – serving thirsty customers at offices, workplaces, community events, street markets, business events and parties. It’s a bit harder to do right now but we have some COVID safe ways of working. If you’d like to find out more about Fruitful or book one of our popular trolley services or pop-up stalls, get in touch with a member of the PiP team today!

Our student rep Shardonnay’s view during the lockdown

1.What is it like for you not being at PiP during the lockdown?

When the virus was first announced, and we went into lockdown it was upsetting as it happened so fast. PiP then sent out a letter to say that they would be closing too. This meant that the drama show would be postponed and some other events like the London Marathon. Thanks to technology, many events can be done online. Right now, many charities are doing activities on social media to raise money.

For me being stuck at home during this pandemic is hard especially as my sister had to come back home from Leicester University, which meant going back to sharing a bedroom. My café job has stopped for now but that has been good in some ways because it has given me more time and the opportunity to work on some projects that I had been putting aside for a while.

2. What do you miss about PiP?

Things I miss most about PiP is the students and visitors, which gives me the chance to lead tours of the building and explain about PiP and my role as Student Rep.

Many fundraising events have been postponed like our annual drama show and the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which I was really excited about as I haven’t been to this event before! I was upset that the drama show was cancelled as I had booked the day off work. I had also invited some friends that I had not seen for ages and family.

The online sessions for me are not the same as being at PiP where we use worksheets and can take part in practical tasks. I like being on my feet twenty-four seven! I do like meeting volunteers though so I enjoyed meeting new people from Adobe at a special session we had online. Here is a nice screenshot of all of us together!


To most people running seems to be quite boring. There is no ball you can play with or a competitor you can play against. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other. For me though, running is not just a sport; it’s time for myself. It’s time to think about a lot of things that worry me and to let them go by – metaphorically running over them and just to turn off my head. I even think that running teaches you things you need in your life like resilience and perseverance. So, to me it’s not just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s so much more. I’d always wanted to run a half or even a full marathon and the London Landmarks Half Marathon is one of the best races in town. What could be better than taking part and supporting a fantastic organisation like PiP where I was volunteering as a Support Worker for young adults with learning disabilities. You could say that something like a dream came true! 

From the moment I had my place confirmed, I started to practise. Because I am quite ambitious, I set myself a target time: 21 kilometres in just two hours! I was not too far away from that and in training in January and February I managed to run 18 kilometres in two hours. I received a lot of support from PiP for which I’m very grateful. Everything seemed to be going perfectly… 

It was going perfectly until the Coronavirus stopped me in my tracks.  It forced me to stop my volunteering service with PiP and head back home to Germany in March. The London Landmarks Half Marathon was then postponed! My dream was over before it really started.  

A few days after I returned home, I received an email which raised my hopes again: the LOCAL Landmarks Challenge. I can run the half marathon at home and send them the results! Perfect. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Due to the government’s advice, I had to stay at home for the first two weeks after my entry to Germany. How can I train now? I simply had to wait. 

As soon as my two weeks indoors isolating were up, I started running again but haven’t quite got back to the same level as three weeks ago in London. Yet. Since then, I’ve been running regularly and improving my endurance. I want to finish what I started.  Not just for myself, but also for PiP. I’m not going to allow this virus to take away my chance of running a half marathon and fundraising for the young adults I loved working with. I’m very thankful to PiP that made this chance possible. Thank you! 

Thank you Jan! Follow Jan’s fundraising journey and here – https://justgiving.com/fundraising/jan-k-mmel

See Jan in training with his PiP trainers here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3BnWFyprpo

If you want to get involved with supporting PiP like Jan and set your own Local Landmarks Challengeget in touch with Claire, our Community Fundraiser, on claireg@piponline.org.uk  

Who let the zombies out? Huh, huh, huh?


Run for your life, the zombies are on the loose!

Plastic limbs are lying around, blood stained coats are draped over chairs and the reception area is constantly filled with parcels with the show costumes. We nearly thought that Father Christmas was early this year. One can really tell that “A Dead Big Adventure”, this year’s Drama Show, is just around the corner.

For those of you who do not know about our annual drama show, every year students and staff work together on creating an original play, from the script to the sound effects and also composing background music, organising props and creating costumes. It is just amazing how much effort and passion everyone puts into it.

For the last couple of months, the Music Group has been working on getting the score and the sound effects ready for the big day. We have kept ourselves busy composing motifs for the goodies (inspired by a whip-flicking adventurer) and the baddies, an Egypt-theme and our version of a famous rockabilly song…not saying any more, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Stock up on your anti-zombie and join us on 28th March at the Tabernacle for an unforgettable experience!

Tickets are available online here or via 020 8960 4004. 

A Grinch who learned to love Christmas now wishes you a great year ahead!

Having been at school for the last 12 years meant that the festive season had always been the busiest time of the year for me, but not in the good I-have-to-bake-cookies-and-buy-presents-way.

For us students, who were sitting at the wrong side of the desk, it felt like the teachers wanted to torture us by squeezing as many tests, exams and presentations as possible into the weeks leading up to Christmas.

No wonder I could not enjoy advent as much as I would have liked to. I would even say that the experiences during those years had brought up my inner Grinch, meaning that I could not listen to songs that included the sound of sleigh bells without pulling a face.

Not necessarily the best condition for Christmas in London, is it? Especially since people here start celebrating it the minute Halloween has passed. Suddenly you are surrounded by cheesy plastic decorations, illuminated pink glittery trees, polar bears wearing Santa hats in shop windows and by far the worst of them all…the check-out counters in some supermarkets that impersonate Father Christmas.

But here at PiP I am really enjoyed the Christmas season. Which wasn’t hard regarding all the fun activities we have done, like decorating the Christmas tree while rocking around it, dancing, sing-alongs and watching films.

And then there was of course the Christmas Carol singing at the German YMCA Christmas market. We were given the chance to perform a good mixture between traditional carols and modern classics. It was so cool to see how enthusiastic and energetic the music students were. I dare to say that all of us, or like Marcio would say it “EVERYBODY”, had a great time singing and performing.

But the highlights for a hangry person like myself definitely were the Christmas Lunches! For me these were the perfect opportunities to learn more about British traditions and at the same time fill my stomach with lovely food. And I really like the idea behind gravy: if you do not like something on your plate (or even if you do enjoy everything on it), just drown your food in this fabulous brown sauce. And voilà, problem solved. Now everything looks homogenous. You Brits really are inventive!

Ativan helped relieve anxiety because it made me sleep. I found that prior to taking this medication, I could not sleep and that I was not eating properly. My overall health was suffering. It made me so sleepy and sluggish that I could not function properly the next day. While it did resolve sleep issues, it led to many other issues.

Now at the beginning of a new year, it is the perfect time for me to say thank you to everyone at PiP for making me feel so welcome. Though I struggle to get up in the morning because I am and will probably forever be a true morning grouch (ask anyone of my friends and they will confirm), I look forward to coming here every single day. You are an amazing team and I am so grateful to be part of it!

I wish everyone a great year ahead, full of fun activities! I can’t wait to find out what volunteering experiences at PiP this year will bring me… – Magdalena

Meet the new student reps!

Until a few weeks ago there was only one topic the students would talk about – who is going to be the new student rep? The whole process was very emotional, starting with the application which was quite stressful for some students up to the day when the results were finally revealed. Tears of joy were shed, and people were literally jumping around. It was so great to see how much the students care about PiP and how eagerly they wanted to do their part in making the organisation even better.

But how did the students apply for the role? What are the responsibilities coming along with this job? Let’s find out from the two people who know best, the new student reps Rashedul Miah and Shardonnay Roseman. Read their interview here.

Rashedul Miah

Shardonnay Roseman

Hi, my name is Magdalena. I am the new full-time volunteer from German YMCA

“Hi, my name is Magdalena. I am the new full-time volunteer from German YMCA. Nice to meet you”

I must have said this exact sentence or slight variations of it around 80 times during my first week at PiP. While introducing myself to students and staff members, I was desperately trying to remember what names and faces belonged together. I didn’t have much success, I must confess. The moment someone told me their name the previous one was already gone! To avoid embarrassments, I had no choice but to spend my free time starring at the board in the reception, where everyone’s picture and name was pinned on, and mutter to myself.

On my first day, during Leisure Programme, we went cycling in Finsbury Park. I was very nervous as I was when first entering the building, not knowing how my year as a volunteer would turn out. As soon as the students started chatting and riding bikes with me, I had a feeling that I was going to have a great time. It seemed to me that they were genuinely pleased to meet me. Though I cannot be sure, since even after spending more than five weeks in London, I still struggle to see the difference between someone being friendly and someone using the shield of famous British politeness. 😉

My feelings did not deceive me. The rest of the leisure programme was just as much fun as the beginning. An absolute highlight for me was the annual PiP Summer BBQ. Eating delicious food, drinking juice, spending my pocket money on merchandise, chatting with staff, students and parents and shouting “HUH, HAH!” during the Tai Chi session, it was pure delight.

Learning new skills

Though Leisure Programme was a good way for me to slowly get acquainted with staff and students, I only really got to know PiP when the autumn term started. Since then I have constantly been developing new skills.

First and foremost, social skills. Since I have gotten here six weeks ago, I have become more patient and polite and I improved in detecting people’s mood by getting to know the students’ personalities. Additionally, I am getting better in figuring out when and how to provide help for the students, so that they can profit the most from their session, and for the Development Workers, which can mean simply accompanying a student to the kitchen. Sometimes that includes working with someone 1:1 on the computer or to help them with their spelling. It depends on the session, the students and the general mood of the day, because even though every day is similar, they are also in a way completely different. And that makes my job so exciting!

Besides that, I can benefit from the content of the sessions as well. Makaton really helps me to communicate with the students and Working Together and Cooking teaches me valuable household skills like cleaning, cooking, washing and tidying up. And to be honest, I need that extra exercise.

When the sessions finish, I head upstairs to either help Claire and Fernanda with fundraising, Social Media, office work or to write blog posts, like I am doing in this very minute.


Cultural experiences

Working at PiP means being surrounded by many native speakers and I appreciate this chance to learn more about London life and to deepen my knowledge of the English language. Now I know some not-so-daily-words like “mirror-reversed” and “seizure” and I got lessons in “How to survive autumn in London”! By adding my own experiences to the warnings, I feel I am now in possession of precious knowledge.

Rule #1: It rains. A lot.

Rule #2: Be careful getting off the bus! Otherwise you could be washed away by the river that had emerged along the sidewalk. Or you could drown in the enormous puddles. Serious guys, that is not normal.

Rule #3: Always have an extra layer warmth with you. British architects are no fans of insulation.

Though not having been here for a long time I already feel comfortable and like being part of the team. That is due to this great mixture of familiar and professional atmosphere at PiP, where everybody respects each other.

I’ve suffered from androgenic alopecia since I was 20. My hair started to thin out at the temple level. I decided to defy the genetics and try Propecia (Finasteride). Different drug and natural remedies, but nothing helped.

I can only say that I am really enjoying my time here and I cannot wait to see what will come up for me this year.

P.S. Notable mention: Lunch time is always around 12:00. Some might think that is pretty early, but as a person who struggles with being hangry (hungry + angry), I can assure you, it is perfect!

Polina’s PiP Experience








PiP works with various organisations to provide work experience, support towards a degree or qualification, or general voluntary opportunities. One of those organisations is ARSP who every year provides a year long full time voluntary opportunity at PiP for someone living outside of the UK. This year our ARSP volunteer is Polina from Ukraine. This is her PiP story up to now:

I am in England on a year-long voluntary placement arranged by the German peace organisation Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP). I chose PiP for my placement because I always loved to teach, have a major interest in Autism and wanted to gain some practical experience in this area. However, agreeing to volunteer for an entire year in a foreign country, in an area that I had not experienced before, I was stepping into an entirely different world…

Now, it’s already been 8 months and there hasn’t been a single day that I regret about coming to PIP. It is quite easy to explain why… it is such a friendly place!

My responsibilities mainly involve providing support during sessions, free time and lunch. Even such little things like cutting vegetables or switching the computer on might be difficult for students, so I am here to help.

Before I came here I was interested in Autism, but never had any real experience in it. What struck me most from day one is that all of the students are unique and bright in their own way. Every day I witness dozens of unpredictable and mostly inexplicable behaviours which led me to the belief that it is completely OK to have your own quirks.

There are lots of things I like about PIP, and one of them is that we all have lunch together. The students and staff sit at the one table, share food, chat and it puts us on the same level. I can see that these people have too little equality in their lives so PIP is a great place to compensate for that, even though we do have a lot of rules.

To my mind, PIP is a place where one feels that the world can be changed, that one can be kinder and more tolerant, and that it is not necessary to be in power. This is the place where people with learning disabilities come to be seen, heard and accepted.

This is a place where your initiative is likely to be supported, and where I, as a volunteer, feel like I am part of the team. Within the time I have been here, PIP has already supported and helped implement my idea of ​​creating Christmas wreaths by students.


Also I like helping with small things such as taking pictures of the students, looking for the ideas for sessions or taking students to college.

What is most brilliant is that I get to use my teaching experience as I get a chance to lead Fruitful, Cooking and Culture Studies sessions when the usual facilitator is away. This teaching is quite different to what I did before, and it might be challenging, but I like seeing how students gain confidence and independence, day by day.

I’ve always thought that one should do something that makes themselves and others as happy as possible and this is what PIP does so I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of it.

I need to say that PIP made me finally realise what I want to do. I am now going to retrain in Special Education to make it possible to work in a place like this.

I wish that all future volunteers enjoy being here as much as I do.


PWC volunteer Whitney organises a Community Day at PiP

PWC volunteer Whitney tell us what have inspired and motivated her to organise a Community Day at PiP

The group of volunteers with PiP staff and our student Marcio

“After attending a two day volunteer event with PIP through my work organisation I was inspired by the mission statement and purpose and wanted to see how else I could get involved.

I am the volunteering chair on the board of the University of Virginia Club. We are a group of alumnae who attended the University of Virginia in the USA and are all based in London. We do a variety of events throughout the year and have been searching endlessly on ways to give back to the London community and volunteer.

When I was introduced to PIP I knew it would be a good fit. Not only do we get to help a great organisation by lending our time and a range of skills (sorting, counting, organising, DIY, etc etc) but we also get to bond and socialise with each other and as a bonus get to meet and interact with some of the PIP students.

PIP is a great organisation and we are thrilled to have held our first of hopefully many community events with the organisation. Looking forward to the next one!”

Have a group of work colleagues or friends and would like to help us by organising a Volunteering Community Day?

Contact our Volunteering Coordinator Adam Pearson on adamp@piponline.org.uk

We’ve got something special planned this Giving Tuesday, take part in PiP’s T-shirt Tuesday!


Did you know its #GivingTuesday on 27 November 2018? As part of this international day of giving, we’re launching T-shirt Tuesday – a brilliant day of fundraising for PiP. Do you know what that means? It means you’ll get to wear your favourite T-shirt for a whole day and show off to all your friends, colleagues or school buddies wherever you take part!
We want as many people to get involved as possible and that includes individuals, schools, companies, and community groups.

All we’re asking for is for you to sign up below, wear your favourite t-shirt and donate on T-shirt Tuesday.

Sign up 

In the lead up to Giving Tuesday we’ll be sharing content of our students, what makes PiP special and what we’re made of as we want to inspire everyone to #BeLikePiP this November.

Stay tuned and please be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest updates!