Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Derby Kids’ Camp seeking more volunteers to help children facing challenges

A Derby charity is urgently seeking volunteers so that it can provide a much-needed break to children in the city and county who may be living in poverty or facing challenges at home.

Derby Kids’ Camp is appealing for help with this summer’s event, which will see around 320 primary school pupils head to the Peak District for a week of team-building, fun and making memories.

Ben Riggott and his wife Laila – a former primary school teacher who now works with ethical Early Years equipment provider Cosy – spent last summer leading fellow volunteers at Derby Kids’ Camp and the couple are urging others to follow their lead.

Ben, who is part of the senior leadership team with multi-academy trust Embark Federation and the brother of ex-Derby County player Chris, said:

“Derby Kids’ Camp gives children the chance to be, well, children.

“It does incredible work. Laila and I heard of their achievements through patrons Peter and Amanda Ellse, whom we have known for years. They encouraged us to volunteer, and it was extremely humbling.

“The charity does, though, rely completely on volunteers and that’s why we’re making this plea for more people to get involved.

“Volunteering gives you that feel-good factor and for those wanting to work with children say, as teachers, it is a great thing to have on your CV.”

Last year was a big year for the charity as it celebrated its 50th birthday and was announced as a recipient of the King’s Award for Voluntary Service; the equivalent to an MBE and the highest award given to local voluntary groups in the UK for outstanding work done in their local communities.

Teenager Lily was part of the volunteering team who joined in the 50th anniversary celebrations and she spoke about what Derby Kids’ Camp means to her.

The St John Houghton Catholic Academy pupil said:

“My parents have been volunteering for Derby Kids’ Camp for more than 30 years and I kind of grew up on camp.

“I’ve always been keen to volunteer and help make a difference in the lives of these young children. I like making them happy and find that it’s much better being on camp than being at home staring at my mobile phone all the while; I get to meet new people and make friends.”

Reliance on volunteers – Derby Kids’ Camp is 100 per cent reliant on volunteers – which means the charity is only able to run to its full capacity if there are enough staff to cover the six weeks of camp.

Laila added:

“We were told that one year a week had to be cancelled because they just didn’t have enough volunteers, which meant up to 60 kids missed out on a holiday when they may have desperately needed one.

“After experiencing its impact on young people and seeing the charity’s work first-hand, Ben and I decided that we just had to help out.”

Many of the children who attend Derby Kids’ Camp are living in poverty or have suffered bereavement. Their week at Derby Kids’ Camp – where they get to take part in craft activities, cave climbing and swimming – gives them the chance to try out new activities and explore new surroundings.

Children stay in cosy tents that are equipped with comfortable camp beds, complete with bouncy mattresses, snuggly duvets and blankets, and the site has a fully-equipped kitchen with electricity and running water.

Volunteers are supported by an experienced team and opportunities can range from being part of the welfare team, to helping with catering and medical. Fundraising events take place throughout the year, too, and Derby Kids’ Camp will have a team running in the forthcoming Derby 10k, raising vital funds for 2024.

Chairman Chris Edwards, who has been at the helm for 17 years, emphasised the need for more people to help out as demand for Derby Kids’ Camp grows.

He said:

“There is a growing need to support young carers and over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in these children needing a break.

“Since covid, we are seeing a rising number of children with social issues such as anxiety, and children with special educational needs. We have also extended our reach since covid by offering breaks to children in the county and are seeing more young people joining us from areas such as Chesterfield, Belper and Alfreton.

“It is great to see Kids’ Camp growing. Over the last 50 years, the charity has welcomed an estimated 15,000 children to camp.

“We have had fantastic support over the years from volunteers who return year after year – many often bringing their own children with them – and also businesses. We are always, though, looking for more help to cope with the demand and welcome new volunteers.”

Members of the public can register their interest in becoming a volunteer here: https://derbykidscamp.co.uk/volunteer-application-pack/.

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