Joe” is an angel, he lost his mom when he was only 6 and he had to take care of his father who had paralysis in both his legs and was very depressed because of that (…) He’s a strong boy, but he was not surrounded by the best people at the time. Sometimes he escapes you know? to meet those friends but it’s happening less now, I think he’s starting to understand how damaging and dangerous it is for him (…) I think your organisation, Ben, you and the rest, have helped a lot, I mean, being involved with people who don’t know about his past, who doesn’t judge him based on things he’s done or who doesn’t feel pity for him has been great. He has a lot of energy, Oh God, believe me! and he is competitive by nature but now all that’s been redirected to something healthy. Hopefully, after this finishes he’ll keep working hard on other sports or maybe he’ll continue with this in the winter, if we find the resources of course, he’s definitely not bothered by the cold (Laughs)”

– The name has been modified to protect the identity of the young person

“This was an incredible experience; I was able to learn team management and liasing between parents, other project officers and the Water Sport Center. I had much fun. It was great!”

“I like everything about the project. I found sailing challenging, but everything was really great and I think everyone should come. They will for sure like it!”

“It has been a great experience, especially on the logistical planning which has been very exciting. Seeing the kids and how their team evolved as a result of the activities is also a great experience.”

Volunteering at RJ4All was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the various programmes run in the community while also having the chance to engage in a variety of tasks – from researching and designing workshop activities on community cohesion through the arts to testing/evaluating e-learning modules to paddleboarding. Working with the team at RJ4All has been a wonderful learning experience, largely due to the support and enthusiasm of those involved – thank you to the team for such an amazing opportunity!

I joined RJ4All immediately after graduating from my Master’s program. I joined the organisation to gain experience in researching social policy, engaging with public-facing organisations, and working within a team. During my time with the organisation, I had many opportunities to develop my skills, both in areas in which I had intended to work and in areas which surprised me, such as graphic design! I have worked on some fascinating projects for the organisation, many of which are doing a huge amount of good for the community, and it has been very rewarding to work on material promoting these projects. I greatly enjoyed my time with the organisation, and I feel that it has helped me both to gain new skills and self-confidence, and to develop a better understanding of what I want from my future career.

Having the chance to work with RJ4ALL helped me a great deal. Having just moved to London with no job in line, I was looking to grow my skillset and gain experience in the third sector, as that is the line of work I have wanted to be in since going to University. Facilitating and implementing the programmes that were available to young people in Southwark was a great opportunity for me and has provided me with the confidence to go on and become a full time member of staff at a disability charity in North London. I think the springboard provided by the opportunities at RJ4ALL helped me obtain this position and I am grateful to those who supported me through the last three months and helped me build a foundation here in London.

I love working with young people, as I can see the results of what we do. One case that stands out to me was a young girl with cerebral palsy, who was shaking with nerves at the start of our activities week in Feb 20 half term. Not having the same physical abilities as others in her group, she was apprehensive about engaging with them, but clearly wanted to join in as she came voluntarily. She decided to start out on a canoe after encouragement from one of volunteers. Almost immediately her confidence grew, and she was eager to try something a little more difficult. Initially, she was adamant she would only get in the boat with the volunteer she had built trust with. However, quickly she joined all activities and workshops, building trust and relationships with many of the group. This continued throughout her sessions and she stood out as the most improved by the end of the workshops. The end result for this girl was ultimately the aim of our project; to build skills, trust and resilience for our participants through education and the application of the Good Lives Model. A short video on our Summer Activities Fund project explains how we build resilience through sports 

I particularly enjoyed the restorative art project, there, we discussed the definition of community. The children pained a flag that represented their community. This brought a few interesting topics, for example, we had a 10 years old boy who was really affected by Brexit due to his best friend (from Poland) going back to his country. The definition of community for him was a place that allowed every country and every person to stay together.

In the same activity, we also had a 14 years old girl who painted an LGBTQIA+ flag and defined herself as ‘bi’ and explained how some people, including other children in her school and her family, have made fun of her, or have not taken it seriously, this opened a great opportunity for her to freely express herself and for other children to understand how words can hurt. After the session finished, she thanked us for giving her the opportunity to express herself as she has continuously felt like she has to live hiding it.