Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 264 to Day 268 - West Sussex for the Chichester Half-Marathon, a BRIT Trustees Meeting & then Ty Orbis, Brecon, Powys‏

At the end of Day 263 I drove back to West Sussex mid-way through my month of October in Wales walking in each of the 22 counties. It is tough at times to run BRIT as a charity and complete each day’s walking at the same time, so returning to west Sussex gave me time to walk and to prepare for our BRIT Trustees Meeting on Monday. 

On Day 264, Friday 10th October and Day 265, Saturday 11th October, I completed 6 miles each day by walking in West Sussex and answering correspondence and preparing reports for the BRIT Trustees. It also gave me the opportunity to wash all my BRIT 2012 mile challenge clothes, repack the car and stock up on medication and food supplements which I carry around with me in the car for each day of walking.

On Sunday 12th October, Day 266 of my BRIT 2012 mile walk I has the honour of starting the Chichester Half Marathon http://www.chichester.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=19931 after over a 20 year absence. 

This year was the 25th Anniversary of the Chichester Half Marathon and it was coordinated by Chichester District Council and the Charity, Children on the Edge http://www.childrenontheedge.org/

Anita Roddick sparked the beginnings of Children on the Edge http://www.childrenontheedge.org/ in 1990, in response to the Romanian Orphanage Crisis. After witnessing the appalling conditions in Romanian orphanages first hand, Anita mobilised her company, The Body Shop International, to help these children. Initially, this involved helping three orphanages in the small village of Halaucesti in the Iasi district of Romania.

Anita Roddick

By 1992, the team had developed considerable expertise in working with institutionalized children. This prompted the organisation to expand its work into Albania.

By 1994, it developed into Bosnia and it became clear that the organisation was working primarily with vulnerable children, in particular those without parental care. It was then that Rachel Bentley co-founded Children on the Edge.

Rachel Bentley

In 1999, thousands of Kosovan Refugees arrived in the town of Korce, Southern Albania where Children on the Edge was working. The organisation became involved in the relief effort, developing the skills necessary to work with refugees. The same year, Children on the Edge expanded into Kosovo to help rebuild the schools and communities devastated by conflict.

Working with the children of Kosovo developed the organisation’s expertise to include children in post conflict situations. In 2000 Children on the Edge was invited by UNICEF to work with traumatised children and youth in Timor-Leste and in 2004 when an earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia, Children on the Edge utilized their skills in the area most devastated by the disaster.

Since then, Children on the Edge have expanded its reach to include working with children who have escaped ethnic cleansing in Burma as: migrants, refugees and IDPs (internally displaced people). Most recently, the organisation has started work in a new continent, Africa, where the majority of children without parental care live.

Originally part of The Body Shop Foundation, Children on the Edge became an independently registered charity in 2004. The charity is in the process of registering independently in countries with active programmes. This will allow Children on the Edge to develop fundraising and expand operations in the countries where the charity works.

The history of Children on the Edge is as follows;

1990 - After Anita Roddick visited Romania, The Body Shop undertook work helping children within three orphanages. This was achieved through staff training, play and socialisation programmes and integrating children back into community life. At this time they were ‘The Body Shop Romania Relief Appeal’.

1992 - Having developed expertise in programmes of deinstitutionalisation for children they were invited by VSO and the Albanian Ministry of Health to develop work in Albania. They were re-named The Body Shop Eastern Europe Relief Drive and became part of The Body Shop Foundation.

1994 - This year they developed this work into Bosnia and by this point had built up considerable expertise working with children without parental care. The organisation Children on the Edge was co-founded in this year by their current director Rachel Bentley.

1996 - Programme set up in Romania to support teenagers leaving residential care.

1997 - Graduate programme established in Romania to offer residential rehabilitative care for teenagers leaving residential care.

1999 - In this year they provided mobile sanitation and clinic facilities in Albania for refugees from the Kosovan crisis and were responsible for the repatriation of vulnerable refugees back to Kosovo.

2000 - Rebuilt School in Kosovo, in Cabra village which was completely destroyed during Kosovan crisis. This led to investor confidence which led to regeneration of the entire village.

2001 - Having built up considerable experience in Europe of working with post-conflict Children they were invited by UNICEF to implement a Child Friendly Space in Viqueque, East Timor.

2002 - Refurbished three schools in Kosovo, established Semi Independent Living Apartments for orphans in Romania, opened Special Needs Day-care centre in Romania to help prevent Special Needs children being abandoned to state institutions.

2003 - Opened second Special Needs Day-care centre in Romania and funded the Speranta Special Needs Day-care centre in Moldova.

2004 - The Goruni Farm Project was established in Romania to help reintegrate teenagers from residential care into society. In this year Children on the Edge independently registered as a charity in its own right.

2005 - Established a Child and Community Centre in Aceh, Indonesia helping children and their community rebuild their lives after the traumas of the Asian Tsunami.

2006 - Started work on the Thai/Burma border, helping Burmese refugees and migrants fleeing persecution from a brutal military regime within their homeland.

2007 - Started support of Ei Htu Hta Refugee camp nurseries in Burma and established Child and Community Centre in Moldova.

2008 - Helped child victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma and provided Cross Border Aid for victims of the famine in Chin State, Burma. Also in this year they began supporting:
- Apartment Schools in Malaysia
- Scholarships for Burmese refugee children in India
- KWO in developing standards of care in Thai Boarding Houses

2009 - First trip to Bangladesh to help the plight of Rohingya refugee children from Burma. Began support for 3 Learning Centres for Working Children.

2010 - Started supporting Sports and Education Programme for vulnerable children in the slums of Port au Prince, Haiti following the earthquake.

With Children on the Edge Ambassador, Euan Clarke, and George Vaux

Children on the Edge have carried out vital work for over two decades to save the lives of children and young people across over 14 countries.  It was an honour to be invited by the charity to start their Chichester Half marathon and to enjoy such a positive relationship with their team.  Euan Clarke, their Children on the Edge Ambassador is a delightful gentleman and a pleasure to spend time with.

The atmosphere on Sunday morning was superb and it was a great to meet runners and support staff as well as the Children on the Edge Team and their volunteer supporters.

The start line at the Chichester Half Marathon
 for Children on the Edge

I finished Day 266 of my BRIT 2012 mile walk with 340 miles to go. 

On the Sunday morning I was delighted to say hello to Shelagh Legrave, the Principal of Chichester College, who was participating in the Half Marathon.

Shelagh Legrave-Principal of
Chichester College
Shelagh has been a tremendous supporter of BRIT, the BRIT 2012 mile walk and me for a considerable time. 266 days ago I started my 2012 mile walk at Chichester College and Shelagh, together with her staff, have given constant support throughout the year. The Headquarters of BRIT is now based at Chichester College and I am given great help and assistance by many of Shelagh’s staff in their spare time which has been vital to keep on top of administration, finance and coordination.

Lisa Humphries-Student Experience
Manager at Chichester College
Lisa Humphries, Student Experience Manager at Chichester College, has been the relationship coordinator between Chichester College and BRIT; her dedication and kindness have ensured that everyone involved with BRIT are welcomed warmly and given support where needed. I am indebted to Shelagh and Lisa for all their continued help and I am very proud to be associated with such a visionary college and to enjoy very special relationships with such great friends and advisors.

Day 267 of my BRIT 2012 mile walk started with 4 miles in the morning, prior to my BRIT Trustees Meeting at Chichester College. It was super to see Helen, our volunteer BRIT Photographer, together with Polly who both came to the college to photograph two of my BRIT Trustees for our website.
Martin Lewis
It was a pleasure to see Martin Lewis, Chairman of the BRIT Trustees, and Mike Peckham, one of the BRIT Trustees, both of whom had travelled great distances to spend the day discussing our strategy including 2012, the walk and our future plans.
Mike Peckham

Martin and Mike are enthusiastic, dynamic, visionary and wholeheartedly supportive. I speak to all our Trustees on a regular basis, however there is nothing like spending time in their company. Martin, Mike and our third Trustee, Darren Whittingham, are more than Trustees; they have all become super advisors, mentors and great friends to me and I value my relationships with them very much.

With BRIT Trustees and great friends, Mike Peckham and Martin Lewis on Day 267 of my BRIT 2012 mile walk

 I always feel so positive after spending time with them, listening to them and taking their advice, counsel and guidance. Our Trustees Meeting was a pleasure to be part of. 

I ended Day 267 with 334 miles to go.

The Brecon Beacons, Powys, Mid Wales

This morning, Day 268, I travelled from West Sussex to Brecon, in Powys, Mid Wales. My day was spent at Ty Orbis http://www.orbiseducationandcare.co.uk/

Orbis Schools are part of Ludlow Orbis Education. They offer specialist residential, education and care services for children, young people and adults with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) from the age of 7+.

With the young people and staff of Ty Orbis on Brecon, Mid Wales on Day 268 of my BRIT 2012 mile walk

Based upon the principles of TEACCH, PECS and Makaton, their goal is to provide opportunities and experiences for each individual, regardless of ability, to prepare them for later life.

Their integrated approach to learning has their qualified lecturers, residential and clinical teams partnering together so that each student's personalised education programme is developed and reinforced consistently as a 24-hour learning environment which can lead to formal accreditation.

They offer a flexible range of placements, from fifty two weeks, thirty eight weeks, term time only and day students. Other variations in placement type, including respite are also available.

With the Lord Lieutenant Mayor and some of the young people and staff of Ty Orbis in Brecon Mid Wales

Ty Orbis is set in the beautiful rolling hills of Bronllys on the outskirts of the Brecon Beacons, Their philosophy at Ty Orbis is that every day, every young person has the right to feel fulfilled, reach their full potential and to receive the best possible education and care to carry them through life.

They specialise in providing intensive residential care, support and education for young people with ASC and associated emotional, social and behavioural difficulties. Their aim at Ty Orbis is to ensure that every student feels safe, secure, valued and respected in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Ty Orbis offers 52 week residential provision, respite services and day placements, for young people aged between 8 and 19 years of age.

At Ty Orbis every student has full access to the National Curriculum and benefits from an individual education plan written to suit their needs and ability. They believe that effective and meaningful access to therapeutic services, together with a calm environment enables students to be more receptive to learning.

They also recognise that a student's learning experience needs to be continuous. At Ty Orbis each student is engaged and challenged at school, at home and during offsite leisure activities. Life skills and independence are encouraged alongside sporting and adventure activities.

It is a quite remarkable facility and I was delighted to meet the young students and their team of wonderful staff.

My sincere thanks to Darren Jackson, Principal of Ludlow Orbis Education for coordinating the day and for hosting me.

With The Lord Lieutenant of Powys, The Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Shân Josephine Legge-Bourke LVO

It was a pleasure to meet Councillor Andy Lord, Mayor of Talgarth Town Council, and it was an absolute honour to be joined by the Lord Lieutenant of Powys, The Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Shân Josephine Legge-Bourke LVO.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with both the Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant and it was fascinating to talk to them both. I spent time over lunch with Darren, his staff and the Mayor. On the arrival of the Lord Lieutenant, we joined the children and the staff at the end of school assembly, followed by photographs and a tour of the facilities.

Looking on intently at the young people of Ty Orbis with
 The Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Shân Josephine Legge-Bourke LVO
Ty Orbis is a breath-taking location with extraordinary staff who are providing young people with a happy, educational and peaceful environment to both learn and enjoy life in. The staff’s passion and enthusiasm are infectious. My relationship with Darren Jackson is growing from strength to strength; his visionary outlook and forward thinking aspirations to change the perception of Autism are simply inspiring.
I was saddened that my time this afternoon with the Lord Lieutenant was brief as The Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Shân Legge-Bourke is a remarkable lady. We discussed a number of issues and I was keen to ask more questions and to listen to her honest and open responses together with her knowledge, wisdom and experience in so many areas. 

Finding Day 268 a tough day.
  A poor night's sleep and up
 at 0400 hours this morning
 and looking pretty shattered!

Today has been a long and tough day. Following on from yesterday’s BRIT Trustees Meeting, my mind was active with thoughts and ideas. With so much going on, I sometimes find it hard to switch off; particularly when preparing for another 10 days on the road. I woke at 0400 hours this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep so together with a long drive to Wales, a busy visit and walk this afternoon, despite being a great day in Brecon, this has been hard today.

It’s approaching 2300 hours and after responding to emails, calls, texts and writing the blogs and BRIT correspondence this evening, I am definitely ready for bed soon. I have been kindly gifted support for accommodation and supper this evening at the Lake Country House and Spa http://www.lakecountryhouse.co.uk/ in Llangammarch Wells, Powys.

Lake Country House and Spa in Llangammarch Wells, Powys

I’m grateful to everyone at the Lake Country House and Spa for looking after me and am gutted that I’ve missed dinner and what the hotel looks like downstairs!

I am ending Day 268 with 328 miles to go.

Looking forward to walking at Ceredigion College in their Aberystwth Campus, Ceredigion and Aberystwyth University, in Penglais, Aberystwyth tomorrow.

With kind regards,