Posts

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #14

Image
#14. Coins & Paper Currency This Guy Fox money is just one example of the resources we design for our workshops. To bring a topic to life, we believe in making it real for the children.   Who’re we kidding? Making these resources is fun, too!   When we get the nod for a new project, we put on our thinking caps and our scarves of imagination. We consider the project topic from all angles, and we ask ourselves, what do we need to do to bring this to life for a 10-year old? Props, activities, costumes, resources… what does this topic demand?   For example, to explore the history of Lloyd’s of London, we turned a classroom in Brick Lane into a 17th century coffee shoppe. Our volunteers dressed as ship owners who needed to insure their cargos; the children became underwriters, deciding which risks to underwrite and then negotiating the premiums.    Our facilitator, in costume as Edward Lloyd, sold coffee and rang a bell when it was time to announce the shipping news.   When the news was

History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #13

Image
 #13. Policies and Procedures (2000 to Forever) Okay, we’ll admit it. Policies and procedures may not be edge-of-your-seat stuff. We see you rolling your eyes... in fact, will you please nudge that gentleman in the back? His snoring is waking up all the other readers.   (If you really can’t bear to learn about our policies and procedures, then feel free to skip forward to Object #14 , which you might find more entertaining.)   Still here? Fantastic.   The fact is policies and procedures aren’t fun, but they are fundamental . They serve as constitution, rule book, encyclopedia and supervisor. They tell us what we can and can’t do, as well as how we do what we do.    They are as important to us as rivets are to an airplane.   We have a whole raft of policies now, but this wasn’t always the case. We collected them one-by-one, starting with our Child Protection Policy . That’s the biggie, which continues to develop as our work grows, or when new laws are passed.   Policy #2 was a Data Pro

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #12

Image
  #12. Sketchbook & Pencil (2004 to Present) What you see here isn’t just a sketchbook and pencil. It’s also a promise that goes to the very heart of what we do.   And what do we do, exactly? Thanks for asking.  Well. By 2004, we had stopped creating publications for children and had started creating publications with children. Initially, the publications varied, as did the topics.  We made a magazine and website about Elephant & Castle; a booklet celebrating Big Ben’s 150th birthday; pamphlets commemorating the 60th anniversary of VE Day; a children’s map of Southwark, as well as maps of Westminster and Waterloo.    Eventually, we gravitated to books. Since 2009, we’ve published books on a variety of topics – mostly financial literacy, the Law and history, but also a cookbook and a fox-opedia called World ABCs .   How we make those books is the fun part: We choose one class of children, usually in Year 4 or Year 5, and, with the help of volunteers, we all explore the topic

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #11

Image
#11. Collection of Guy Fox Mascots (2000 to 2020) What you'll see here are Guy Fox mascots in all shapes and sizes. Handsome fellow, isn’t he?! Each one has his own story.   Handmade Guy Fox (2000) Guy Fox started life as an ink drawing, but as early as 2000, we wanted to bring him to life in three dimensions. So, at some point, Kourtney took the tube up to Oxford Circus, where she visited the John Lewis Haberdashery Department and purchased fake fur, stuffing and thread.  On a side note, isn’t ‘haberdashery’ the best word ever?!    Now, we can’t tell a lie. Kourtney is no seamstress. She’d never made a stuffed toy in her life; she’d hardly even sewn a button onto a shirt. She didn’t know she needed a pattern. So we will chalk up this effort to the hubris of naiveté.  Over two winter evenings, with lots of trial and error and some very, very questionable sewing techniques, this Guy Fox emerged. We’ll give him points for a result that, even if imperfect, has its charms.   Upon close

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #10

Image
#10. Rubber Glove (February 2008) In late 2007, we received a call from St Martin’s Property Corporation, offering Guy Fox a donation of the coins from the fountain at Hay’s Galleria.    Hay’s Galleria is a warehouse building on the south side of the Pool of London. It was built around a wet dock, where ships filled with tea and other exotic foods were offloaded. The stevedores are long gone. The dock is now filled in, and the warehouse has been converted into shops, restaurants and offices; a curved glass atrium provides shelter from the weather. In the centre of the atrium, there’s a 60-foot kinetic sculpture called ‘The Navigators’. Created by David Kemp, it attracts the curiosity of locals and tourists alike. Every so often, the sculpture springs to life, moving and splashing water in the pool that surrounds it. And sometimes people throw coins into that pool. St Martin’s was calling to ask us if we would accept those coins, as a donation to our charity. Never let it be said that G

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #9

Image
  #9. London Children’s Map (January 2006) Winning the Guardian Award was an ‘honourtunity’; it was an honour , of course, but also an opportunity . And of course, it was the grease that got us unstuck! No excuses.  No more ‘ Big If ’!   During 2005, we spent a bit of time working ‘under the hood’ on the organisation itself. Lawyers at Winston & Strawn helped us re-form the Guy Fox charity into a non-profit social enterprise.   In November 2005, we moved into a basement office, which had once been a wine cellar. It had no heat; it was furnished with desks and shelves that had been donated by volunteers or that we’d found in the street; it was a cold, damp, dark space – but it was our cold, damp, dark space where we would make our vision a reality.    In between meetings with lawyers and negotiating our lease, Kourtney had completed the London Children’s Map . She showed the proof to buyers at Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral Shop, who all placed orde

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #8

Image
#8. Guardian Charity Award (2004)   Previously on ‘A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects’…    We were stuck. We won’t rehash it (you can read it for yourself here ), but in a nutshell:  We needed £5,000.   We’d tried everything we could think of – applied for grants, developed proposals, submitted pitches, we’d even spent a day at IKEA Croydon with a donation bucket – and we’d come up with nothing. In fact, we were slightly worse off because our train fares to Croydon and the donation bucket had cost more than we’d collected.   Frustrated and dismayed, the Board of Trust called a special meeting to discuss options. Their conclusion: It was time to call it quits.  Ding dangit.   We just couldn’t see our way over, under or through. We were all devastated.   Lori Bean, a good, good friend and smart cookie, took Kourtney to Wagamama; over a steaming bowl of chili chicken ramen, she gave her an attitude adjustment:  “Do you have to pull the plug right now? If the final decision is to clo