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A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #16

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#16. The Bulletin Board of Happy Things (2011) Whenever entrepreneurs ask us for start-up advice, our immediate response is, “Make yourself a Bulletin Board of Happy Things.”   The Bulletin Board of Happy Things was, of course, Piera’s idea.    After hanging a few bulletin boards in our office, which immediately gave homes to courier logs, calendars, postage rates, project timelines & deliverables, she decided that we also needed one that would be filled with inspiration.   That Piera, she’s a genius.    What goes on the Bulletin Board of Happy Things , you ask? Quite simply, anything that makes us smile! Cartoon portraits of our volunteers and supporters.  A coffee loyalty card, filled with stamps.  Letters from children. They’re our favourite, those lovely little notes and drawings, usually written in pencil, but sometimes in a glitter pen. And sometimes with stickers! An email from a lady in Australia whose 5-year-old loved our Economy Book so much, he took it with him everywhe

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #15

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  #15. Phone Fax Machine (November 2005) On a single day in November 2005, we got an office, a phone number and this phone (which is also a fax machine). It was a big day!   It was exciting – and still is – to have a phone number. What’s even more exciting is when people actually call us! A single phone call can change everything. And it often has. In fact, we’ve had a few phonecalls that have changed our trajectory entirely.   One such phonecall happened in February 2008. The caller asked to speak to someone in our Corporate Partnership Department. We didn’t actually have a Corporate Partnership Department. Truth be told, we didn’t have ANY departments – just two people in a very, very cold office.    Assuming it was a marketing call, we asked, “How may I help you?”    The caller, who was Patsy Francis of the Community Affairs Team at UBS, told us she’d seen our work and would like to arrange a meeting to learn more.    A week or so later, Kourtney found herself in a conference room a

A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #14

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#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

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 #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

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  #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

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#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

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#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