I’m now onto week 3 of my National Citizens Service (NCS) experience! Week 3 is all about planning your social action project. You will be based reasonably locally, and will meet up with your team to plan week 4. My team met up at a college, where we were based in a classroom. The college was about a 40 minute drive from my house, so it was a bit of a journey. Also this is the non-residential part of the NCS course, where we met up from 10am until 4pm.
My team all met up in the car park, once most of the group had arrived we headed into the college. We walked around a bit until we found the correct block and the correct classroom that had been allocated to us. The classroom was fairly big and had comfy chairs, so all was good. We started off by scribbling down any ideas we had and we soon established that we wanted to do a fun day. We then looked at potential venues which ranged from Church Halls to Community Gardens to School fields. We constructed a list of possible venues for our fun day and then ranked them in order of preference. We then looked at dates and planned to held our fun day on Friday 12th August (our last NCS day). Once we had a date in mind we looked into contacting the venues. Luckily one member of our group worked at a local leisure centre, so they were able to secure us the use of their field for free! With a venue, date and time sorted. We decided to work out the exact contents of the fun day and what we could do. Many ideas were thrown around from BBQs to face painting to raffles etc. Once we had a rough idea we all split up into individual groups and worked on different things. I worked on planning the contents of the fun day and looked into the resources we would need and how we could obtain them. One guy in our team knew a few local bands, so he contacted them to ask if they would be interested in playing at our charity event. Two of the girls in our team worked on designing t-shirts to help with our fund-raising campaign. We also set up a Twitter and Facebook account for our project, alongside a JustGiving page. The team also got in touch with two of the charity’s we were hoping to support. One was a very local charity called ‘In Charley’s Memory’. While the other was a slightly bigger charity called CAMHS. The smaller charity replied and was delighted with our support and were willing to promote it on their Facebook page.
We reached our second day of planning, where we decided to do a little charity shuffle around. Originally we planed to raise money for two charities: ‘CAMHS’ and ‘In Charley’s Memory’. However after we contacted CAMHS the previous day asking for permission they were yet to respond. As CAMHS had not replied we decided that we would no longer raise money for their charity. It wasn’t a personal issue or anything, but we just felt that we shouldn’t need to go chasing a charity. If the charity wanted donations then they would have accepted straight away. However we haven’t given up on CAMHS completely, we are still raising awareness for their charity. After our charity drama we decided to get to work. A lot of the team created posters for the family fun day. The posters ranged from electronic (online) posters to A4 posters and A1 posters. We also started to design some flyers that we could potentially hand out. We also created a list of places where we could hand out flyers and stick up posters. We were advertising for our two events: A fun day and a fun run. I volunteered myself to ask one of the local swimming pools if I could put up a poster in their window. I also volunteered myself to hand out flyers at my local park run on the Saturday, alongside two other members of my team. Another two members of my team known as ‘The Media Experts’ set up two events on our Facebook page to help advertise the events and began to invite people along. We also managed to come up with a list of supplies we would need and where we could get them from and the price they would cost. Half of the group decided to take the 30 minute walk down to Tesco to ask about whether we could potentially have some donations for our charity event. As it was a little bit miserable outside I volunteered to stay behind and carry on with the posters. The team that was sent out (accompanied with a leader) came to no avail. Apparently the manager or the guy that was responsible was not in. We also had a bit of a problem with the fun run prices, my team wanted to charge a £5 entry fee. I asked a few of my running friends if they would be interested and they all came back saying it was a bit pricey. I guess I agreed with them considering the park runs are free, and we would not be supplying bottles of water or anything. After a slightly awkward discussion with my team I was able to get them to reduce the price to £3.50. However I was still concerned that it was too expensive, but I did the best I could.
We had previously decided that we wanted to hold a fun day, at our fun day we wanted to have a bouncy castle. We got in contact with a few local bouncy castle firms and finally received a reply. We were basically hoping to get the bouncy castle for as cheap as possible as it was for a charity event! The original and standard price was £50, so we got in contact with them and told them about our charity event in the hope of a reduction. We were hoping to get the bouncy castle for about £30-£40. Unfortunately the firm rang us back and said that they could not do a reduction on price. Instead they were willing to throw in a few stocks, a coconut shy and a few other bits and bobs for free. These would normally cost £45 to hire out. This left us with a dilemma, half the team wanted to go ahead with the bouncy castle while others wanted to ditch the idea. One of the main problems was the fact that we had already began advertising the fun day, with a bouncy castle! A decision was never really made in regards to the bouncy castle, as we decided to look around to potentially find another supplier. From one bad piece of news to another: the t-shirts. My team wanted to get some t-shirts printed in order to wear them at our fundraising events. We had designed a logo to go on the t-shirts and everything! How ever things didn’t go exactly to plan….we wanted to get the t-shirts as cheap as possible, but that didn’t work out. We contacted a local t-shirt printing company and sent them our design, explained it was for charity and waited for their response. We got an email back from them with a quote for the price. For 14 t-shirts printed with our logo it would come to a grand total of £105.That was the cheapest price they could possibly do. It worked out at about £7.50 a t-shirt. I know that £7.50 for one t-shirt isn’t too bad, but when you are buying in bulk it does add up! It was suggested that we all bought cheap white t-shirts and one of the girls in our team would use her fabric pens to draw the logos on herself. I was worried that it would look a bit cheap and tacky, however most of the team were on board with the idea. We also managed to get our hands upon 200 printed flyers, in order to advertise our fun run. They were printed out at the office of our NCS provider for free! We then came up with a list of places where we could put flyers up or hand them out to. Once we worked out places, we looked at how many we would need and decided that we would have to potentially print another 200. Afterwards I was then sent out along with 3 other team members (1 was a leader) to the local high street. Strangely we ended up taking all the socially awkward people to hand out flyers (not the best idea ever). So instead of directly asking people and giving them flyers, we set out to ask shops if we could display our poster in their window. We ended up putting posters in swimming pools, hardware stores, hair dressers, bakeries, banks, cafes, vets, shoe shops, florists and everywhere we could. The only place I was turned away from was WHSmith, who said that they do not put posters in the window, but the woman was very friendly and suggested to me other places I could try. One member of my team was turned away from a charity shop, who said that they would not advertise a charity event that did not support their charity….fair enough. I even posted a flyer through the door of a local launderette as they were not open! We were going into a mobility shop to ask as we noticed that they had lots of posters on their windows. However we felt that it may not be appropriate to ask to advertise a run in a mobility shop! So that ended our trip around the local high street, the four of us managed to dish out 20 leaflets to local shops in about an hour. So not bad work!
Please wait, your call is very important to us. Beep. After trying to pin down supermarkets the previous day, we picked up the phones and tried contacting them again. The whole morning went by and we appeared to be doing nothing except sitting around or calling people. We contacted lots of supermarkets but none of them seemed to reply. We got the same ‘Ohh the manager isn’t in today’ or ‘we will call you back later’ over and over again. I guess it is not easy trying to get in to do bag packing last minute. It was then onto getting back in touch with the bouncy castle firm. It turns out that the earlier quote of £50, had been increased to £60 for some unknown reason. I don’t know whether it was a mistake or whether the company saw an opportunity to make some extra money out of some disorganised teens…who knows. We ended up having a team meeting on whether the bouncy castle was a yay or nay. It was awkward. The two girls leading the meeting were absolutely passionate for the bouncy castle and didn’t really open up to any suggestions, but instead asked us for our confirmation. I guess the problem was the two girls leading it were too dominant and too controlling, that nobody had the guts to stand up to them. So all though pretty much the entire team disagreed with the bouncy castle idea, it went ahead. The bouncy castle was booked, for a huge £60. At least someone will make money if we don’t! We then had lunch and spent a lot of time waiting around while one of our leaders drove to the office to print some more posters. We then worked on creating ID cards and took pictures of each other on our phones which was fun, until it was spoiled when someone suggested bringing in their professional camera. The posters arrived back, this time it was the posters for our fun day rather than the charity run. So I found myself heading back out into the high street to pester local shops about putting up posters. We ended up handing 16 out between the 3 of us. However I was kind of frustrated as I went into the high street the previous day and a lot of the shops we gave posters to did not bother to put them up. I mean it’s so annoying when you go there hand them a poster, they smile and be all friendly like they care and then the second you walk away they toss the poster into the bin! I would rather they just said ‘no’ so we didn’t waste a poster. I guess people are too embarrassed to say “no!” to supporting a charity, instead they just pretend to and then throw your efforts into the bin! Out of the 20 posters we handed out the previous day, only 7 of them were actually displayed!
We finished on a high! In contrast to the previous day we had a lot more to do. CAMHS finally got in touch with us and sent some leaflets for us to hand out. Although we are not directly fundraising for them as they are apart of the NHS, we are still raising awareness for mental health issues so it is still relevant. The morning was spent folding up the leaflets and finishing off ID badges that we had produced. Our team leader headed out to ‘In Charley’s Memory’ office in order to collect some merchandise. The charity gave us collection buckets, wrist bands and pens. We then had to do some risk assessments, for all our fundraising events. This was quite a boring task that I managed to wriggle my way out of slightly. Two of the girls in my team took the bus home to pick up some face paint, before coming back to practise on people. We were planning on doing face painting at our fun day, but because nobody had any experience we wanted to try it out first. Afterwards I was nominated to go into the select team, who were heading down to Tesco. The 5 selected members of the team (Including me) endured on the 30 minute walk to Tesco. Where we asked about having some fizzy drinks and cups for our fun day. Luckily Tesco were super friendly and gave us 24 litres off fizzy drinks and 200 plastic cups, free of charge. Amazing! We ended up with 12, 2 litre bottles of fizzy drinks in a range of six flavours! A massive shout out to Tesco for supporting us! That was it, we finished the odd job here and there. Before organising and creating a timetable for next week. This allowed us to go home 45 minutes early!
Overall week 3 is obviously a lot more serious than the previous 2 weeks. We got through a lot of work and managed to plan a few fundraising events for next week. At times it was a little boring, especially when we had little to do. One of the best parts was wheeling around the office on spiny chairs, which was super fun! We also had a great time playing catch with a bouncy egg and listening to Frozen songs!