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YOU CAN MAKE £ FOR YOUR FAVOURITE CHARITY WITHOUT DONATING A PENNY

5 Dec

20

DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS

I really aimed to post this on Saturday as one of our weekly recommended charities that are worth supporting this Christmas, but a little thing called life happened to ruin that plan.

This is actually not a charity, more a way to help a number of charities. ‘Give as you live’ is a programme brought to you by Everyclick that enables you to make money for your favourite charity just by shopping online as you normally would.

You yourself don’t actually need to donate a single penny.

Hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of online retailers have joined the ‘Give as you live’ programme pledging to donate a percentage of its sales to your chosen charity, all you have to do is shop as you usually would. Basically this gives you the opportunity to raise money without actually donating a cent.

To get a better understanding of what ‘Give as you live’ was really about, I headed to Liberty’s in London’s West End to find out more.

Liberty’s is a high-end department store just of London’s Regent St. Over one or two glasses of bubbly the lovely Polly Gower’s CEO, Everyclick and founder of ‘Give as you Live’ told me all about it!

The lovely Polly told me that the Give as you Live programme is connected to all 220,000 UK registered charities and the programme unlocks an untapped, additional fundraising revenue stream that is free to all charities online. Participating charities can receive up to 90% revenue share and already more than 600 charities are raising funds through ‘Give as you Live’ with more charities being supported every week.

The Give as you live programme can be used with over 1,300 of the biggest online retailers, from supermarkets, travel agents, to dating sites. I decided to go and checkout and discover just how many stores where part of the programme and as promised all the big names were there. Every retailer that I used online was part of the programme… Some Examples are Tesco’s, John Lewis, Sainsburys, M&S, itunes, Debenhams, play.com, Boots, Mothercare, Topshop, Toysrus etc… honestly every single store I could think off is listed on the Give as you Live programme.

Another thing I learned from Polly is that Everyclick are able to provide your publication with a gift guide sharing the best-selling gifts this Christmas for all it’s readers and sites such as mumsnet are already a part of it.

Here is a list of products that seem to be pretty popular this Christmas, and here’s how much the online retailer will donate and your chosen charity will raise from the purchase of such items.

Product: Apple ipod 2 Price: £399.oo Raised for charity: £5.99
Product: Iphone 4S Price: £499.00 raised for your charity £7.49
Product: Amazon kindle Price: £89.99 Raised for your Charity: £4.45
Product: Ride on Dalek Price: £209.99 Raised for your charity: £6.30

In December 2010 £6.8bn was spent shopping online, if the same amount was spent on Christmas shopping this December 2011 through ‘Give as you Live’ a potential £170m could be raised for UK registered Charities.

The whole online shopping experience for you is no different, you spend not a penny more than you would if you didn’t shop via the Give as you Live site! Just by using Give as you Live to access your favourite online stores this Christmas you raise money for YOUR chosen charity. All you need to do is decide what charity you want the funds donated to? Mine would have to be the NAS 🙂

You can even make your own wish list and share it with friends and families.

So… If you still have Christmas gifts to buy and plan to do so online, please do it through ‘Give as you Live’ site making sure your chosen charity benefits this Christmas.

To shop or find out more go to www.giveasyoulive.com today.

Give as you live are also running a competition allowing you the chance to win a fantastic £500… to find out more click HERE

Lastly a big thank you to Polly and her team for a truly fabulous night at Liberty’s.

Update from Merlin’s Magic Wand & the NAS

24 Nov
An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

Image via Wikipedia

I thought given my recent post regarding the Merlin’s magical wand charity and the possible discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, I should share with you all the latest developments

Today Merlin’s Magic Wand Have made a statement on there facebook page. I visited the page only to discover that all comments have been removed and this has been left in there place.

In the light of recent conversations on this site and elsewhere we wanted to clarify the objective of Merlin’s Magic Wand – which is very simple. We know that there are many children facing difficulties of all kinds – illness, disability or social issues – who would benefit greatly from a day at one of our attractions, when they can just have fun with friends and family, and get away from everyday concerns. The aim of Merlin’s Magic Wand, through the provision of tickets and grants, is to offer this opportunity to families who might not otherwise be able to visit us.Unfortunately our resources are not unlimited. As more people have become aware of the work of Merlin’s Magic Wand, and the number of individual applications has grown, we need to explore new ways of managing these. We believe that in the future the best way to reach the maximum number of different children will be for us to increasingly work in tandem with specialist organisations – charities, support groups and educational and social services departments – who have direct access to those who would benefit most, and the communications channels to spread the word. More than this, given our aim must always be to give as many children as possible a magical day out, rather than the same children an annual outing – we also believe that working with partner organisations will better ensure this. Finally such partnerships will leave our small dedicated team more time to develop our activities into new areas – taking the magic out to those children who will never be well enough to come to us. We make no apologies for this. That said nothing will change until we have alternative arrangements in place and ALL eligible children should continue to apply through our websitewww.merlinsmagicwand.org, where full details are available.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to anyone who was confused by some recent communications, or who interpreted them as in any way discriminating against children with autistic spectrum disorders. That was certainly not our intention. The National Autistic Society is undoubtedly one organisation with whom we are in discussions, but with the express aim of making these tickets more widely available and certainly NOT to limit access for those with autism or any other issue. We would also like to reassure anybody that might be concerned that if children are fortunate enough to be allocated tickets as part of the Merlin’s Magic Wand scheme there is, and never will be, any charge for these.

We have taken very seriously all of the comments posted over the last couple of days relating to this subject, and we hope that this statement will reassure you all. If anyone still has concerns however please feel free to contact us direct offline on mmw.enquiries@merlinentertainments.biz.

Furthermore the National Autistic Society have also left this update on it’s facebook wall.

National Autistic Society

Hi all,

We’re aware some people have had questions about our involvement with the charity Merlin’s Magic Wand. We hope this will address those concerns.

Children with all disabilities, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can apply directly to Merlin’s Magic Wand for free tickets to Merlins’ 25 top UK family attractions.

The NAS is currently only exploring ways in which we can help Merlin’s Magic Wand reach more families who have children with autism.

The announcement by Merlin’s Magic Wand of our involvement was premature and once we have finalised precisely how the NAS will be involved we will let you know.

Both the NAS and Merlin’s Magic Wand want to reassure anybody who might be concerned that there never has been, nor will there be any charge for tickets allocated through the scheme.

Applications for tickets can be made through their websitehttp://www.merlinsmagicwand.org

Hope this helps clarify things and thanks for everyone’s patience.

National Autistic Society

Image via Wikipedia

So there you have it, Merlin’s should have thought twice before sending out such an email, they do not apologise and claim they did not mean to come across as acting in a discriminating way! Sadly they did and in my view, unless Merlin’s change the application process for all applications then they will be continuing to act to do so!

Watch this space!

Merlin’s Magic Wand helping children benefit from the magic, that is unless they have autism!

23 Nov
Day 255: Magic Wand

Image by amanky via Flickr

When you have a child on the autism spectrum life is that bit harder, no matter how much you dress it up it’s not easy! We as a family have been judged and judged again, Little man has often been left to feel his not “Normal” that he doesn’t deserve the experiences that other children have, he feels this because at the tender age of 11 his been discriminated against more times than I care to remember! 

 2009/2010 my son missed out on nearly every single school trip that his then mainstream school embanked on. Why? Well, he was either conveniently excluded on them days, not given letters, or just remained in school in the hope I’d never hear about it! Disgusting I know.

 It was the most stressful time of mine and my son’s life, we had no choice but to take the discrimination route and just as the Tribunal date neared we settled the case happy that the school had finally given up the lie! I remember my son throwing his whole self into brick walls and scratching his arms till they bleed when the head teacher called late in the evening to inform me my son was excluded the following day and would therefore miss the one trip he had so looked forward to for months! My child was labelled a liability and a health and safety risk.  

 Thank goodness for charities like Merlin’s magic wand, the charity that creates magic for disadvantaged children, especially those with a disability and young carers like my daughter. 

 He missed all his school trips but at least come the summer holidays we would have our trip to Chessington World of Adventures to look forward to! The Merlin’s entertainment group really were creating magic for children like mine. 

 Little man didn’t feel so different as he raced around one of Merlin’s attractions, smiling from ear to ear. 

 As a parent of a child who benefits from such an awesome charity I did my bit to donate and even considered over coming my fear of heights  by embarking on a sponsored skydive next year to raise some funds in the name of this awesome charity & the NAS.

 Lately I’ve been running some competitions here on the blog to win tickets to a number of Merlin’s attractions, It’s basiclly a sponsored competition isn’t it! However unlike many other companies and brands do, Merlin’s didn’t offer any compensation to the blogger, after all it’s free advertising to the brand and many bloggers spend time writing and checking each entry before drawing the winner. Many of the other bloggers I know refused to do this, they just don’t have the time to run a competition and the fact their isn’t really a thank you for doing so added to this (after all this wouldn’t happen in newspaper or magazine).

 Nonetheless, I didn’t vacillate when it came to such competitions and was happy to help, after all look how Merlin’s have helped my child and millions more like him on the autism spectrum. This was me giving them something back alongside my readers! So, why not!

 Yesterday I visited my Facebook page (A boy with Asperger’s) only to discover something that hurt and angered me!

 This is what I read…

 Dear Merlin’s Magic Wand Applicants,

 For those of you wishing to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for 2012, there has been a change in the way that Merlin’s Magic Wand will manage applications in 2012, for those families whose children are on the Autistic Spectrum or who have any Autistic related disability.

 This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.

 Our Charity has very limited resources and funds and unfortunately we are no longer in a position to be able to manage these applications as efficiently as we wish. Therefore we have had to put in the following process in order for us to continue to work with families of Autistic children.

 Applications from individual families will no longer be accepted. You will need to contact your local National Autistic Society Branch (NAS) in order for them to apply for tickets on your behalf. If you are not a member of your local NAS, you will need to contact any other organisation that you are a member of (incl Special Needs School) that specifically handles children on the Autistic Spectrum. They will be able to submit an application on behalf of all their members.

 The NAS are aware of this new procedure and the regional offices will be asked to contact the families on their books to see if they wish to take advantage of our attractions complimentary tickets.

 We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, this change needs to be made so that we can help as many children as possible and for us to continue our promise of giving children magical experiences.

 Thank you

 Hilary Birkinshaw Charity Manager

 Nicky Elliott Applications Manager

 The Merlin Magic Wand Charity

3 MarketClose/Poole/Dorset/UK/BH15 1NQ 

Fax: +44 (0)1202 667867

 This was posted on the wall by one of the admins I have appointed on the page.

 I read this three times and was utterly disappointed to learn that basically Merlin’s our heroes were kicking us in the teeth just like so many have and will continue to when you’re a family that consist of a child with autism.

 From reading this a number of times I am in no doubt that this is yet another act of discrimination against our children! How can it be interpreted any other way when it quite clearly reads, 

“This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.”

 Before going on to state that they will no longer accept applications from families of children with ASD directly and this must now be done via NAS or through application from a special school!

 As mentioned I fought a discrimination case and we come out the other side smiling, I’ve helped a number of families who also have children with autism who feel they are being discriminated against. 

It’s even harder when a group of children are being  singled out and treated differently than children with other types of disability especially when it is being done by a children’s charity!

Above Little man enjoying a trip to Chessington world of Adventures thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand in 2010

Here is Merlin’s promise which I’ve taken from the Merlin’s Magic Wand Website

Magical and memorable experiences

Unfortunately, many children, through circumstances which are not of their own making, are not in a position to be able to experience many of the things that most children take for granted, including trips to theme parks and attractions. 

This may be through difficulties in the home, or maybe because they have to care for a sick parent or relative. Sadly, sometimes children suffer abuse or have serious health problems which prevent them from having a normal life. 

We hope that by making available magical and memorable experiences, at one of Merlin Group’s many and varied attractions, Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity can bring some pleasure and improvement to the lives of some of those children.

 I do wonder if Merlin’s are fully aware of the laws surrounding disability discrimination. Surly the big guys at Merlin’s run this decision past it’s legal team?

 Here’s something they should have read…

 Service providers are not allowed to discriminate unlawfully when providing goods or services to people. Discrimination when providing services means:  

  • refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service, offering a service on different terms than you would to other people.

 So, yet again, because you can’t see autism it makes our children less worthy of a smile?

 Has Merlin’s ever considered the fact the reason the applications sent from families of children on the autism spectrum is so high is because there are a massive number of children with autism that actually benefit from this type of help? Autism is more common now than ever yet the misunderstanding and judgemental crap is still smacking them in the face with crap such as this!

 Merlin’s what were you thinking?

 From what I understand Merlin’s Magic Wand is a charity for disadvantaged children and that’s not only those with disabilities! Example… A single Parent can apply for help from Merlin’s simply stating how disadvantaged their children are simply because she is so broke, Merlin’s will then make the decision whether to issue the tickets or not!

 The point I’m making is, our children should be allowed to enjoy the things that children are meant to enjoy without having to fight tooth and nail to do so. 

The fact that Merlin’s are stating it is only the families of children with autism who need to take this new route of action is discriminating and god dam flagitious. Our children didn’t ask to be born with autism and we as parents spend much time and energy trying to install self-confidence into our child with autism or aspergers syndrome. I tell my son he is no different from other children, he just has some extra special ways, yet his not silly he knows that the world is a harder place to live in when you have a “Label” such as his! Its imperative that children on the autism spectrum don’t get left on the sideline, but receive the same opportunities as others their age.

 Not every family of a child on the spectrum are members of the NAS and sadly this may shock you Merlin’s but do you know how hard it is to get your child into a special school? Your changes will not affect my application as my son goes to a special school but only after one hell of a battle, one that almost killed me! Now your asking parents of children like mine who haven’t been as fortunate as me to win the battle with the education system, to battle  your application process. Yes, sadly I find this barbaric and have trouble understanding how you think your actions are even justifiable? 

 Merlin’s are not saying this to the parent of a child in a wheel chair, just to the parent of a child with autism… Why? Because you can’t see autism just from looking at the child, there is no physical disability so our children are sadly pushed aside.

 I ask would Merlin’s state this about a child’s race or religion? I don’t think so!

 They have more and less stated that they hope by taking such action the application number will fall and they can help more worthy children to have fun.

 Will, I be sharing this with my 11-year-old son? No, I don’t want him to feel rejected not by a charity that he is thankful to, not to one that he trust, I wont do that.

 Since making the discovery I have visited the Merlin’s magic wand Facebook page which has a wall full of comments from parents, advocates and adults on the spectrum. Sadly I have not read any statement given from Merlin’s. I await such a statement, I would of course like to hear why? and hear it from them!

 I didn’t receive the email about the changes, I don’t know why, maybe I will in the next few days, they obviously have a number of parents to upset given they have stated that half its applicants are families of children with autism. 

 I will finish the current competition I have running solely because I have opened it and it wouldn’t be fair on those who have entered to suddenly remove it, however, I won’t be running another competition on their behalf simply because I’m not just a mother who writes a blog I’m a mother to a child on the autism spectrum who writes a blog and it would seem that right now Merlin’s couldn’t give a flying f*** about that!

So, there you have it, Merlin’s Magic wand are bringing smiles to the faces of children all over the world, that is unless they have autism!

Please leave a comment and share your views, especially if your child or loved one will be affected by the changes. Like I always say, in order to raise a subject and get heard we need to spread the word, so lets do it!

Give the gift of a shoe box this Christmas

13 Nov
Christmas in the post-War United States

Image via Wikipedia

Christmas, a time for family, togetherness, gifts, mulled wine and mistletoe.

Parties, large dinners, chocolate and far too much pudding

I love this wonderful time of year and like many I’ve been guilty of taking the big C for granted.

You, see it’s not just Christmas for me and my family and it’s not just Christmas for you and yours, it’s Christmas all over the world, touching many a person’s heart, bringing smiles to billions.

I feel guilty when I stress about my Christmas list and how I still have to buy this, that and… Oh god that something else for uncle so and so! I have to step back and remember the point of Christmas, forcing myself to relax.

This year I’ve had Christmas on the mind since July what with Santa’s Little helpers and the building of the wish list, how could I not!

However there has been no stressing (well, not yet) I haven’t yet brought much but one or two of the children’s gifts, however there is one very special gift I’ve already prepared, “The gift of a shoe box”

That’s right… a shoe box! However it contains no shoes, (well, only a plastic pair) odd you may think? Instead it contains something so much better, It contains Christmas for a child I’ve never met and not likely I ever will!
This is me seeing the bigger picture, remembering what Christmas should resemble… The knowledge of knowing you’ve raised a smile for a child who without your shoe box wouldn’t have experienced the joy of receiving a gift on Christmas morning.

As part of the Samaritans Purse appeal ‘Operation Christmas Child’ I prepared a shoe box that was happily supplied by the lovely friendly staff at my local ‘Shoe Zone’ store. I filled it with treasures for a Little girl somewhere in the world who would have not otherwise felt the joy of receiving a gift this Christmas.

Before packing my shoe box with girlie delights, I wrapped the lid and the box in pretty pink Disney Princess Christmas gift wrap, and lined the inside with sparkly metallic tissue paper. I then placed the following things inside the box

One small doll and accessories

One floral headband

One pair of dress up princess shoes

One Disney princess necklace and clip on earrings

One small girlie mini note pad

One drawing pad

 One packet of hair grips

4 mini bags of sweets

One small packet of colouring pencils 

Before finally placing the lid back on and tying the box shut with some pretty ribbon (Only loosely as this needs to be checked by the volunteers).

I made sure I picked up an information leaflet from Shoe Zone that gave me all the required information, list of things I wasn’t allowed to give and some examples of the things I could! The leaflet also contained the necessary labels that highlight if your gift is for a boy or a girl and the age range the contents are aimed at. The label is then stuck to the lid of the box.

You must include a donation of £2.50 to cover the cost of sending your box to its designation. You can give this by check or cash placing it in a small envelope and placing it inside your box, but better still you can donate online which makes it easier for the volunteers who have to hand check every single box before sending it on. What’s more, if you do make your donation on-line you can track your box and find out just where it went, isn’t that awesome?

I first heard about the appeal on a popular forum used by many “mummy bloggers” and since reading  it, its been wonderful watching the Mummy bloggers come out in force and doing what they do best, raising awareness for worthy charities, just like this one!

The lovely mummy mummy mum has spread the word and encouraged others to fill a shoe box by running a competition (you enter by linking your picture of your filled shoe box).

Michelle twin mum has also raised the roof on this one and has all the parents at her children’s school on the job! Her post is fantastic and it includes some awesome pictures of her beautiful children filling shoe boxes.

It’s not to late to raise a smile by filling a shoe box, you have just a few more days to get a shoe box, fill it with New treasures and get it to your nearest Shoe Zone or Stead and Simpson store (check on their website for other drop offs) by the 18th November.

 

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If you really don’t have the time to shop, wrap and drop off, then why not select a pre-filled shoebox from as little as £11 on their website

It’s so simple, yet so rewarding, I promise, you’re feel great doing it!

So, have I inspired you? I hope so… every shoe box is another child’s smile…

ON CHRISTMAS MORNING!

ICT4Autism Set to make it happen

10 Apr

As promised here is a charity and campaign worth backing! And what better time to show your support then Autism Awareness month.

ICT4Autism a non-profit organisation is reasonably new charity that was recently featured on the UK news. It’s founded by Sally Hugget a mother to two children one with autism and supported by UK television presenter Paul Ross.

Sally is on a mission to make a real difference to the lives of UK autistic children by providing them with computer systems that have been adapted for their needs. This would mean the computers would feature certain impressive technologies like Large keyboards, trackball mice, and touch screens. Her aim is to provide at least 150 systems to autistic children in her first year. This is going to cost an astounding £150.000 which will be made up from donations, pledges, and fundraising events.

This Mother is an inspiration to many! Me included. Not only does she look after her two beautiful children that have special needs but she puts her heart and her soul into making things happen for our autistic children. She believes all children with autistic spectrum disorders will be able to reach great heights if given the chance! And I have to say I’m in complete agreement with her. ICT4Autism is going to change the lives of many autistic children within the UK for many years to come. If you’re looking to support a charity that is aimed at making the lives of autistic children more enjoyable with the prospect of a more rewarding future then ICT4Autism ticks all the boxes.

Look Into My Eyes, There’s A Person in There is a campaign Sally has created to run along side ICT4Autism. Photographer Phil Burrows the owner of Avant Photographic has created a wonderful campaign poster that not only looks fantastic but also gets the message out there. The campaign was launched to bring awareness and show society that autism is not as rare as people may think! Sally says the message is simple! There is a person behind those eyes. Given the right tools and encouragement they can go on to have fulfilling and rich lives.

Look into my eyes there’s a person in there is also launching a magazine called L.I.M.E (Look into my eyes ) aimed at parents of special needs children. This is due to be published in June by ICT4Autism. L.I.M.E will feature advice for parents of children with ASD, Fragile X, Downs Syndrome, cerebal Palsy and more. The magazine will be linked to its own Website which is still under construction. Keep a look out in the sidebar as I will add the link once it’s all up and running.

Want to learn more, receive updates or contact Sally? Then why not Join one of her fantastic Facebook groups or have a look at her blog, packed full of wonderful post that tell the story of a busy, Inspiring mum and her adorable children.

The Campaign poster remains the property of ICT4Autism & Avant Photographic.

Check it out… ICT4Autism


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