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Introduction to our Charities for 2017/2018

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Every year meetingsclub will personally donate 10% of its profits to charity, each member of the team will also donate a minimum of 24 hours a year to help the chosen charities and we hope to increase our fundraising at events and donations.

This year we have chosen Children with Special Needs Foundation and Smart Work Reading as our chosen charities

– Alison Jenkins, Founder & CEO meetingsclub

Children with Special Needs Foundation

Their aim is to raise funds to support individuals, groups and schools in their requests for equipment, holidays and tuition and to provide essential care for children with special needs in Surrey, East Berkshire and North Hampshire. This also includes assisting very talented children who are finding it difficult to reach their true potential without support.

Children with Special Needs was formed by Gordon and Ann Parris in 1995 when they were the Mayor and Mayoress in the Borough of Surrey Heath.  The inspiration for the charity was an amazing boy called Nick Ivil who has Downs Syndrome and made a lasting impression on Gordon and Ann and this is where their truly incredible journey to raise money for children with special needs began.

Nick is still very much involved in the charity and regularly attends cheque presentations and fundraising events. Nick is still an inspiration to everyone, both his parents are now involved with the charity, with Chris being the current Chairman.

The focal aim of the charity is to provide help to children with special needs, and to support their families, schools and clubs. They aim to avoid the cumbersome red tape and administration of other charities and organisations by identifying a need and where possible offering a quick and positive response. Small enough to be personal but big enough to be effective. The foundation is genuinely flexible and can provide significant and lasting financial or material help through many connections and the superb support of their patrons, benefactors and the tireless work of their committee members.  

‘Special needs’ can mean a child with a disability or a very special talent that would not be fulfilled without help. They are very conscious that they must also include exceptionally talented children in our definition of “special needs” and always try to keep a varied cross-section of recipients. None of the committee realised at the start how great the need is. The Home Counties is far from the leafy urban suburbs the media would have us believe and many families with special needs children are struggling to cope and feel they have no one to turn to.

Close friendships have been formed that last to this day, and what initially started as a charity to run during Gordon and Ann’s Mayoral year is still growing stronger day by day. 

There aim has always been to ‘put a smile on tomorrow, today’ and 20 years and millions of pounds on we remain true to that ethos.

What a great night at Runnymede!

Our first Christmas Ball at Runnymede Hotel was a huge success. Fabulous food, wonderful entertainment and of course over 200 of you, our greatest supporters!

With the help of the brilliant auction, tombola and raffle they raised a huge total of over £30,000 pounds. Nights like this are crucial to the work that they can do during the following year. Thanks also to the relentlessly hard working committee, Firebird Events, and Runneymede Hotel, who really do pull out all the stops for them!

christmas ball 2017

Without a shadow of doubt one of the best Woking New Victoria panto’s in years!

Shane Ritchie and the cast not only put on an awesome show, but were also absolutely amazing with their special children. Here’s a message from one of the parents, who came along to the panto on Friday Night. This why the work that the CWSNF do is so important.

“I just wanted to thank you all again for another fabulous time last night. I think this must have been the most exciting Panto ever!! Normally Rosie gets so anxious about going to theatres and cinemas but, because she has been to the same thing and sees many of her friends at the same place, she is able to manage her anxieties much more and even coped with the amazing dinosaur and 3D bugs! Which if I had taken her to, on my own, she would have run out of the theatre. This just goes to show me how all your fundraising and organising efforts have really helped to improve my little girls life – allowing her to enjoy things that others take for granted in a mainstream world. We absolutely enjoyed every minute of it and were able to laugh as a family so much (which is quite rare).

Please pass my thanks on to everyone who was involved and fingers crossed for another one next year. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.”

robin hood 2017

Smart Works Reading

Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to women in need. They give women the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools they require to succeed at interview and start a new chapter of their life.

At the core of their service is a dressing and interview appointment at one of our Smart Works centres.  During her visit, each woman receives a high-quality interview outfit (theirs to keep) tailored to their taste and style by our Smart Works stylists.  This is followed by dedicated one-to-one interview training with an experienced recruitment, HR or coaching professional.

This short intervention has a significant impact as our clients start believing in their own ability to succeed.

‘I felt valued, cared for, even loved, helped to look fantastically dressed and to feel proud of my life experience and abilities.’

The success and impact of Smart Works is driven by the skills of their volunteers and the quality and range of the clothing in our dressing room.

All of their service delivery is done by highly skilled, trained volunteers who dedicate their time to helping our clients succeed. Their reward is seeing the impact of unlocking a woman’s confidence, and finding out that she has gone on to succeed at interview and move on with her life.

The high quality stock is donated from other working women or comes new from retailers, allowing them to build strong partnerships with companies that share our vision of supporting women.  Their dressing room is beautifully set out, full of high quality clothes and gives an immediate boost to anyone who enters.  It is one of the reasons our service has the impact that it does.

After visiting Smart Works, 59% of those clients we were able to contact went on to get the job.

The Smart Works service is open to any woman who has a confirmed job interview and is referred to us.  They work in close partnership with a wide range of organisations who refer clients to us.  This includes JobcentrePlus, Work Programme providers and numerous charities.  It is vital to them that those women who most need our service are able to access it.

Smart Works Reading

In October 2017 Smart Works Reading celebrated another great milestone – two years of bringing our fantastic service to the Thames Valley. The occasion was marked by a fundraising ball, which brought together volunteers, supporters, retailers, referral partners and Smart Works friends to celebrate our success – and which raised over £5,000 to help them continue their work in the future.

See more here


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Past Charities

During our launch year we chose to support two wonderful causes, the Beyond Food Foundation and Fight For Sight, both had meant a huge amount to myself and the team. We were so pleased with the help of our very generous clients, family and friends to have raised over £13,000 at our first Charity Ball, amazing.

If you would like to know more about these two fantastic causes, just click on the links below.

Fight for Sight

Beyond Food