Tag Archives: amnesty international

A Fantastic Evening

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When I turned up to the fundraising evening which Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group had organised on my behalf, I didn’t know what to expect. Billed as an Indian food evening, taking donations for entry, I had no idea how the evening would pan out, or how many people might turn up. David, the organiser, advised me to bring some extra stuff to boost my third of the takings for the night.

I therefore arrived with my oversized handbag stuffed full of my remaining silk scarves, dressed in too few layers for the cold November evening, and being a little flustered after getting lost several times (as usual). When droves of people began turning up I couldn’t believe it. The excellent cook, Liz, whose house the gathering was held in, had made so many different Indian dishes that all looked amazing. I wish I’d remembered to take photos! For dessert there was some mango cream – the lightest thing you’ll ever taste – traditional homemade rice pudding with fruit in, and my favourite, mithai (Indian sweets). I think I ate about 3 huge gulab jamuns, and can’t recall how many barfi.

One of the women kindly offered to make an announcement on my behalf about the work I was fundraising for, and the scarves I’d laid out on sale on a table in the corner. After that, all the women started thronging round it, and I ended up making £70 just from scarves!

At the end of the evening, Dave came up to give me my share of the profits, and it came to £110 – again, I couldn’t believe how much I’d just added to my fundraising total. I only ever expected to get about £40 from the evening, and thought that might even be a little optimistic.

The following day I gatecrashed another local event with my raffle tickets in hand – this time an art exhibition. I think I probably made more money than the organisers did from painting sales! The profits from this weekend alone has now raised my total to £704.34, not counting the money I expect to get from sponsorship for my upcoming bungee jump!

Speaking of which, you can still sponsor me for this, or get more minute-by-minute detail on the day (1st December) here.

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A Busy Week

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As the title suggests, this week has been a bit jam-packed. Thus, despite my good intentions, I have again not come around to putting up this blog post as soon as I would have liked.

Anyhow, I received a call late on Thursday night last week from a lady I have been liaising with from Brigg Town Council, asking if I wanted to gatecrash another event (not quite her words) the following evening. I went along with bucket and fresh raffle ticket book in hand, and perched at the top of the stairs waiting for any unsuspecting attendees to walk in. My placement was clearly spot-on, as it enabled me to capture £46 from all the people who didn’t manage to sprint past me fast enough. What a fantastic and rapid way to boost my fundraising! I also succeeded in inundating all of these lovely people with flyers for my upcoming fundraising evening with local business Design Orchard. Looks like my efforts might be more successful yet!

The Saturday following this was devoted then to a pre-planned stall at Wrawby Autumn Fair, in the village hall. I was indecisively umm-ing and aah-ing about going beforehand, as I was meant to be at work that day, but committed in the end to the fundraising task ahead – and I am so glad I did!

I walked into the hall during the initial set-up expecting it be dead, and was shocked at the number of stalls that were already in place. I think I was the last one to be ready. I had a huge table (which I spent about 20 minutes re-arranging, much to my Nan’s annoyance – thanks Nan for the help by the way!).

My Nan, the ever-faithful helper

There was a real village atmosphere (or was that just me?) as I saw old faces from my primary school years coming in  and pretty much every one of them bought something from me. Even though the completion of some of the Christmas tree decorations was still ongoing during the 2 hours that the fair was open to the public, I managed to make £42.50! That’s over £80 in two days – enough for…about a month’s food in India? Or perhaps a quarter of the cost of my visa if you want to put it that way.

I was so pleased with myself, and the stall looked fantastic, as did all the decorations.

Some girl stood behind a stall

The professional touch…

After clearing up and taking the remaining stock home, I spent the rest of my week putting the finishing touches to the final few decorations still needing buttons/ribbons/wire. It may not sound like a lot of work, but such small things can take a very long time to get through, especially when you keep stabbing yourself with the needle. If I wasn’t self-employed, I’d be able to sue my boss for damages.

Just when it seemed that all was nearly completed, with only the final 20 or so pieces to finish, my poor, overworked sewing machine had a massive tantrum and started eating anything I put under its foot. Feeling confident, I pulled out my special lubricating oil and subjected every moving part I could see to rivers of the stuff. After this didn’t work however, and my machine continued to make a horrible clacking noise, I enlisted the help of my Dad. Together, we nearly dismantled the thing in an attempt to get at the inner machinery. Eventually I found the problem, smothered all the cogs in petroleum jelly, and it began sewing again like a dream. Pity it only took me a whole afternoon to figure that out.

Thursday evening then saw the completion of the final favour, which brings us to today.

This Saturday was the date I’ve been counting down to for over a month and a half, the one which began the entire crazed sewing project. The Humberside WI Christmas Fair. I therefore expected to sell as much of my stock as possible, and in the best scenario sell out, making a couple of hundred pounds in the process. I also had some silk scarves imported from India which sold like hot-cakes at the Wrawby fair.

Scarves imported from India, modelled by my mannequin

But I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of customer interest. Despite a great deal of footfall throughout the day, and the fair being open for six hours, I only sold 5 items from my stall, and made up the rest of my pitiful £34.50 profit from raffle ticket sales. In all honesty it wasn’t really worth me going, and I’ll now have to put the rest of my (mountain) of stock onto ebay or etsy (more to come on that). It’s ironic that I did much better on an event which only arose because I was already planning to attend this one. It wasn’t for lack of customer interest. I think the people who came to the fair were in general more interested in having an afternoon out than seriously purchasing goods, as several of the other stall holders also did poorly on sales.

Well, the experience has still served me a valuable lesson. I’ll now be focussing more of my attention onto selling raffle tickets – they’re easy to carry on me at all times and have a low mark-up price which encourages more people to buy. Furthermore, they don’t need to run out, as I can always purchase another book. 🙂

On a brighter note, my next upcoming event should be great fun. Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group have kindly agreed to hold a joint fundraiser evening for me, where some of the profits will be mine, and the rest Amnesty’s. It’s basically a curry evening where people pay to attend and get their meal. I still need to think of something to contribute, edible or otherwise…until next time!

Over-excitement

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Phew, it has been a while! Lots of things to update on – the most important being that I have a couple of new fundraising events coming up.

I met with the Amnesty International group and we’re now planning to put on an Indian food evening on November 23rd (a Friday I think) and split the proceeds, which will be fantastic! I’m not cooking though as I have no idea what to do with food. I might try to make some Indian sweets though, as they’re my favourite, and the chef always gets to lick the bowl.

I’m also now attending my village’s Autumn Fair on November 10th, selling the same Christmas tree decorations that I’ll be selling at the WI Fair on the 17th. Everything is happening in November! It’s going to be a chaotic month. I’ve attached some fantabulous pictures of the various works in progress, again as a photo-diary of how things are getting on.

I did a little presentation for the village’s WI group as well last week, which was far more successful than I’d anticipated. Handing out flyers for my upcoming fundraising events, and a sponsorship form for my (still-stupid) bungee jump, it seemed like everyone gave me a donation or said that they would attend one of the events. It feels fantastic to have so much support from my local villagers. I can’t wait now for each one to happen, and to see who turns up.

My raffle ticket book for the raffle (surprisingly enough) also turned up today. Time to start selling! I’m thinking a pound a strip. I’m still collecting prizes from businesses and other places – I’m very good at getting freebies – so I already have some chocolate boxes, a voucher for Roe’s Farm Dairy, a £25 treatment at Earth Energies, and £20 for Bengal Spice, where part of the evening is being held. I must keep going!

Looking at visas today also made me realise that the departure date is starting to get quite close now. Up until this point I’d been very good at keeping calm and pretending to think about other things, but now I’M SO EXCITED. My internet history list is becoming increasingly dominated by India-related sites. So much so, that google keeps giving me ads for shalwar kameezes and flight comparisons, and deals for mobile phone rates to India. Stop it, I’m already excited enough! As soon as I step off that plane I’m going to have to grab the nearest mehndi tube and find a saree shop to release all the urges that have been building up for the past 3 years. Sigh, still two months to go.

I also met my supervisor at the charity over skype last week, and she seems spot on. We’ve agreed that I’ll be staying with a family for the first two months on a probationary period. I’ve also had a couple of offers to stay from my colleagues at work who have relatives in Bangalore, and both my (Indian) bosses are going back to the city whilst I’m there! It’s a small world.

Anyway, I’m off now to go and watch a Bollywood film. It might give me a temporary fix.

Dressmaking

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I realise I haven’t updated my blog in a couple of weeks. To explain why, I’ve made a little photo diary of what I’ve been up to…

Basically lots of sewing christmas crafty things for a stall I’m now booked onto for the Humberside WI’s christmas fair. Can’t wait! I’ve been making little favours, or bags to put sweets/jewellery/gifts into, and lots of tree decorations. I got all my fabric scraps out which are no good for anything else as they’re too small, spent hours ironing them all out, and had loads of fun designing my own patterns.

The favours took the longest to make surprisingly, even though they only required hemming and a line sewing for the tie to go through. In contrast, the tree decorations look amazing and are really quick. I’ve probably only spent four or five hours on them so far and all I have left to do is stuff them and stitch up the gaps. That’s for about 50 as well, so on average each will be about 10 minutes to make.

I’m also super-busy trying to organise an evening with the local Amnesty International group in Scunthorpe, and still gathering sponsorship for my bungee jump. I got an article in the local rag last month too – nearly half a page spread! Hopefully people will be interested in what I’m doing and want to help support me.

Enjoy the pics. I’ll post some new ones up from the next thrilling event in the build-up to India!!!

Busy, busy, busy

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Phew! The last couple of days have been a bit manic. I finally gave myself a kick up the bum and printed out a  sack-full of sponsorship letters, and went round to almost every shop in my local town. Despite practising what I wanted to say before going in it didn’t make it any less nerve-wracking, and nor did it get easier even after the 50th one.

I had plenty of positive responses though, and a fantastic offer from one local business to put on an evening at their shop, where 10% of all profits made on the night would go towards my cause. Fantastic! Where can I find more people like this?!

I’ve also been trawling the internet for grant opportunities. Unfortunately the Royal Geographical Society only funds independent research, and not work affiliated to NGOs, and most other trust funds don’t sponsor individuals. I shall keep trying however!

In addition to this, I’ve made my list of people to contact to spread the word in the community, so that when I return I can raise awareness of human rights issues and have some positive local impact (hopefully). Brownies, guides, scouts, youth clubs, schools, women’s institute, the local amnesty international group…any more and I think I shall explode. If it all works out though I should have a great base for some human rights advocacy work.

Lastly, I got the job I applied for, so will soon have zero time (hence the sudden rush to get my fundraising organised) but a happy increase in monies. 🙂