OK, so it’s my turn to write an entry for the blog. Over the last few months we have been talking a lot about the future of the charity and how we want to approach the next 5 years. But we haven’t talked much about these ideas and this vision on the blog. As many of you who read this are supporters of Chennai Challenge in one way or another we know how important it is to keep you updated. So please consider this an overdue update.
In February one of my entries talked about Future Forecasting. I mentioned the First50 and that we had been thinking about what direction we want to take the charity. Let me begin by answering some questions. The First50 is a celebration of the last 6 years – we have now taken 50 people to Chennai on one of our annual projects. When we realised this we got quite excited and decided to hold an event. Invitations have now gone out to the 50 alumni of Chennai Challenging to THE event of the summer. We will be holding a celebration dinner with the super mega-team that is the First50 and we can’t wait! Be assured that during June loads of photos will go up to celebrate this date. Owen (my brother and the designer of our logo and flyers etc…) has also designed a logo for the campaign. Have a look around his website at his work for us and many others. As a part of this campaign we will also have a fundraising challenge, which we will release details of later on – so keep your eyes peeled. However if you fancy helping us to get trending on Twitter ask us about #first50!
So, that is this year. What about next year? And the year after that? Well, it is our hope to continue to expand what we do as a charity, and as discussed in the Future Forecasting blog, to begin to look at how we can more effectively support people here in the UK – the people who join our team. We challenge all our team members to raise a minimum of £1500 in order to come to India with us. It’s not cheap to get there, and we want to be able to financially support projects like the Fort rebuild or the provision of a new toilet at the community centres. However we recognise that sometimes the people who would most benefit from the project simply do not have the resources or the support to raise that sort of cash. We have been discussing how to tackle this as it is so important for us that noone is excluded from being able to attend due to money. Our two pronged approach to this is to investigate running a project with year 11s or 6th Formers in schools where they might be able to afford a little bit more. The project will have a profound impact on the young people we take from these schools, and if we are able to ask them to raise closer to £2000 each we could use the excess funds to subsidise places for those less able to raise the funds. Of course this is early days, and we don’t have solid plans yet, but we are in the process of thinking further into this idea.
I have also recently met with London based charity Only Connect. Only Connect are a charity that work with offenders and ex-offenders to try to build their confidence and rehabilitate them through social interaction and development projects. Again nothing is confirmed, but we are really excited about the prospect of building a relationship with them and maybe taking some of their members to India. This is another way that we hope to develop the services we offer to people in the UK.
Obviously we are still passionate about the YMCA and Oasis and the incredible poverty relief and community development projects they run. We are still passionate about Chennai and its people. And we’re still excited about visiting our friends in South India. But to begin to see a bigger, more strategic future for our little charity is thrilling, and I pray that we will continue to be led by compassion and love as we take these first steps towards growth.
In order to assist with this growth we will obviously need more people to help us along the way. Are you interested in being a trustee? Do you think you have the skills to help deliver one of our projects as a Project Leader? In 2014 we will be taking a team of people who are interested in joining us as Project Leaders on future projects. If you’re interested just drop us a line. I fact if you want to get more involved or find out more about anything else we’re doing get in touch. You can go via the Contact Us page, or just send us an email direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.