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Kids Eat Free

Following Manchester Utd and England star Marcus Rashford’s efforts to challenge Government about feeding kids during school holidays, we decided to open up our cafe for Kids in Nechells to eat for free. Following our decision, we received an amazing amount of support to help us provide this service, including a large donation form the Warwichshire Royal Arch Masons, along with Pizza’s & Pasta’s from Gino D’Acampio’s Birmingham restaurant (brought to us by Eleni Constantinou) and food from Digbeth Dining Club (brought over by Jack Brabant).

Through these mazing people, and the hard work from our Chef’s, Charmaine and Devine, and support from our other volunteers too, we gave out over 310 children’s meals and 50 parent’s meals. All thoroughly enjoyed the food and went away happy (or were happy in the home, as some had take away!).

Thank you all once again. We all make a difference together.

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Covid-19 Response

During this difficult time, in the interest of keeping our community members and staff safe we have had to postpone all activities until the Government lifts its restrictions on social distancing.

In the meantime, we are still here to help you where we can. We have already distributed food to over 150 people, which was provided by Stockland Green School, the Real Junk Food Project, Reconnected, and several individuals. We have also been given games and activities for our children, from Southall Harries Insurance, Martin James Foundation, Barrows Forrester Estate Agents, as well as several individuals too.

During this time, Yousef will be working from home, so if you need help with your finances (debt and/or benefit advice) then please call him on 07775663302 – Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Alwyn is still mentoring from home, so if you would like your children to talk with our mentors over whatsapp, then please call or text Alwyn on 07972155963.

Please be assured that free@last is still available for you, should you need our help. If you need help with anything else, please call John on 07971000598 or Jan on 07815531013 to discuss how we can help you.

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Rotary Interact Group Give Money Away

Our young Rotary Interact group had great pleasure in giving away their first cheque to Time Out, an after school club in Nechells, that supports many local children. The Interact group has been set up to raise money and then give it away to other good causes, particularly ones that focus on young people. Here we had the President – Charisma, the Treasurer – Alex, and one of the founding members – Ethan, handing the cheque over.

If you would like to support our Interact group’s fundraising or would like to recommend worthy groups to receive a gift from the club, then please get in touch with John on 07971000598.

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Feb Half Term

We had an amazing February half term with our children and young people, even with the cold weather. Our primary aged focus was a holiday club looking at activities involving scientific experiments, ending with a trip to Birmingham’s Think Tank Science activity centre. The children enjoyed making volcanoes, magic painting and egg parachutes. The children all had a great time – even if it was educational! – and learnt new activities to try at home too.

The secondary aged young people enjoyed a trip to Waterworld and their normal youth clubs. It was difficult to offer more activities for them due to the capacity of our small staff team and volunteers, who were primarily working with the primary children. Our team, including parents and volunteers, have been awesome, thank you.

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Bre@kthrough Mentoring Activity Club

This year we began a new club for the children and young people who are part of our mentoring programme. Although 121 sessions are invaluable, they can sometimes be intense, so having spending time with the children and young people during an informal activity, particularly something they may not have done before, is a really good way to learn more about each other and see different ways that each person reacts and manages new situations.

Our mentoring programme is funded by Children In Need and we have developed an activity programme that includes archery, climbing, water sports, bouldering, bushcraft and survival and team building, plus many more. We have had a great start to the club, which will be continued once the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

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Christmas at free@last

Party Time!!!

We had an amazing family party at free@last to celebrate Christmas together. Santa came and gave out presents (donated by so many people, including @wearefreeradio Cash for Kids), and inside the awesome grotto made out of balloons by our lovely @candybubblesuk – we love this time of year and spending time together – the free@last family. Happy Christmas everyone ❤️

 

Christmas Day

We’ve had a truly wonderful Christmas Day, with 73 people having an amazing lunch, presents and hampers to truly enjoy the festive, family day at free@last.

It wouldn’t have happened with the awesome generosity and support of so many people, including Anthony McCourt, Spencer, Melissa, Rodney, Tony, Jon, Michelle, Des, John, Nikky, Paul, Darcy, Vaughan, Sarah, Cheryl, Marie, Lin, Anushka, Ravina, Bal, Sat and the Streets!! Thank you everyone ❤️

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Young Entrepreneurs

Our group of young entrepreneurs have spent several months learning how to make jewellery – earrings, bracelets, necklaces etc. – and having created some unique products we spent 2 days on a market stall on Sutton high street. The journey we are on to teach these young people the skills to run their own business and earn their own legitimate money isn’t just about making the products! The skills we worked on this weekend included setting the stall out (appearance and presentation of the products), how to talk to onlookers and potential buyers, what our unique selling points are, how to close a sale and income/expenditure. We also discussed how else we can sell the products and where online sales could play a part. All of this was useful time to catch up with the young people and discuss a wide variety of subjects and share breakfast together. Our special thanks go to Sarah for organising and spending the day on the stall, for Jason and Mark from Berts & Gerts for the stall and for the guys at Crucial Sauce for their help too.

 

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Decorations and Panto

We were given the opportunity to have a decorated Christmas tree in Lichfield Cathedral this year, to raise our profile further afield. The queens of decor were Cheryl and Sarah, who organised and made an array of free@last festive decorations, supported by the craft specialists Berts & Gerts, and helped by our little elves. Thank you all for your amazing hard work and making this wonderful.

Panto’s

This year we’ve been blessed with donated tickets to 2 pantomimes. The first was taking 24 from our secondary youth club to see a Christmas Carol at the Alexander Theatre and the second was taking 30 mum’s, dads and kids to see Youth on Stage perform Sleeping Beauty at the Dove House Theatre.

Both performances were delivered by amateur dramatic companies, but you wouldn’t think it as they were absolutely amazing, full of great acting, singing, humour and brilliant theatrical performances. We all had an amazing time and are deeply thanking to Chris and James for donating the tickets, and Richard for driving, thank you.

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free@last Interact Rotary Club

This week we were very proud to launch our Interact Rotary Club at free@last. This is a youth version of the long established Rotary Club, an international organisation that aims to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. over many years, Erdington Rotary Club have graciously supported free@last and they have now sponsored the establishment and continued development of our Interact Club.

We currently have 6 young people, aged 13 to 15, who meet bi-weekly, to discuss how they are going to raise money, and then who they are going to give it to! As an organisation, we are hugely proud that our young people are passionate about financially supporting other young people, adults and animals in need and they are looking forward to being able to give small grants away, particularly to other youth clubs in Birmingham.

The young people are enjoying the roles they have been elected to fulfill, and to learn the necessary skills to perform to the highest of their abilities. they are ably assisted by the lovely Pam Collins, who has volunteer to be the link person between the Erdington Club and our Interact Club, being present at both sets of meetings.

At the Launch event, Rotary’s District Governor, Bala Jaspal and Erdington’s President, Ann Wassall, presented our members with their pin badges and medals – President – Charisma, VP – Decrae, Secretary – Chantelle, Treasurer – Alex, Members – Mya & Ethan. These are very exciting times, which we are all looking forward to seeing where our Interact’s take us.

if you want more information about supporting or joining our Interact group, please speak to John Street, Pam Collins or any of our Interact members.

 

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Summer Residentials

We had 3 awesome residentials this summer, with 12 primary aged lads going to Preston Montford Study Centre in Shrewsbury; 11 teenagers going surfing in North Devon and 34 people, representing 11 families, camping in Tenby, South Wales.

The primary residential boys had so many things to do, see and learn throughout the three days away. Our children learnt the importance of listening, following instructions, respecting the countryside and its animals, how to communicate with each other, work in teams, be responsible for each other and for each other’s space. They also learnt how to trap mammal’s, identify species and how to set them free after. During the pond dipping session, they also identifying the different creature’s living in the water, and when they went into the woods, they learnt how to catch different types of bugs. The highlight of the day for the young people was building a shelter and starting a fire – an excellent adventure for all.

The secondary residential took us to the North Devon coast, to explore, breathe the fresh air, have fun and learn how to ride the waves on a surf board! We stayed at a retreat house on Coombe Martin High Street and after a long journey down we began our stay on the local beach. Some braved the sea whilst others didn’t! Our teenagers quickly made friends with the local young people, who showed us the local sights (a cliff top and the children’s park), which entertained them for an evening. Croyde Beach was the setting for our surf lesson and after a huge amount of coercion for some young people, all 14 of us were wetsuited and booted, heading towards the waves. It was a great lesson, which EVERYONE thoroughly enjoyed and 2 even managed to stand up on their boards.

We ended the day with fish & chips in Woolacombe and a visit to Ilfracombe, and on the final day we enjoyed a walk around Lynmouth and a visit to the ice-cream parlour. A very memorable few days, made possible by our 2 volunteers coming along, Sarah Birch and Luke Street – thank you.

The family residential was 4 days in the stunning Pembroke town of Tenby. The journey down was eventful, with 1 minibus clutch breaking and having to hire a van at Monmouth! When we eventually arrived, first things first, as this was a camping holiday, the challenge was to find a suitable space for 10 tents and 2 marquees! Having settled into our camp during the first day, we had a couple of wonderful days venturing onto Tenby’s famous south beach and then time on Caldey Island. There were 34 of us, from 10 families and everyone worked amazingly well together. On our last night the weather turned for the worst and camping on a cliff top, with no weather protection, meant that the wind and rain came pouring into our field. Within minutes the strong force of the wind had broken the poles on 1 tent, with 2 or 3 others on their way out, and the rain had seeped through into 2 others. At 9pm, in the dark and gale force storm we made the right decision to pack down and travel home. This whole experience really bonded the families as we created some amazing memories that will never be forgotten, and a real desire to go and do it again!

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