• Promoting Good Trustee Recruitment- please fill in survey and support!

    21% of British adults are interested in joining the board of a charity, yet there are currently 90,000 trustee vacancies in the UK. This is partially down to poor recruitment practices on the part of charities; fewer than 8% of vacancies are advertised as charities choose to recruit form their own limited network of staff, volunteers and personal connections.

    We are working with Getting on Board, which champions trusteeship in the charity sector and social enterprise Cause4 to launch a joint project to explore how the sector can build better, more diverse boards.

    You can help by:

    - Filling in our survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TrusteeRecruitment

    - Coming to our roundtable in January 2017 if you would like to talk more about these issues - more about this and a fuller explanation of the campaign can be found here: www.gettingonboard.org/news

    Thanks for your support!



  • Flamingo participates in the 2015 Global Partnership Summit

    Flamingo Creative’s Founder and Director Katherine Sparkes spoke about connecting Creativity, Innovation & Technology for Sustainable Solutions to a world audience.

    Katie Sparkes represented the Flamingo Creative as a panelist at the 2015 JCI Global Partnership Summit at the United Nations. The summit, held annually, brings together experts on development, technology, sustainability, education, and health. This year, the theme of the education forum was "Collaborating for a Sustainable Future," with the goal of discussing the importance of educating and empowering the next generation.

    Attended by more than 500 people, this high-level discussion about the benefits of investing in education and empowerment for the future generations was one of many vital conversations that took place. The panelists at the UN event emphasized that young voices not only deserve to be heard - young people need to be listened to and their views must be taken into account.

    Other panelists included the Senior Advisor at UN Global Compact, Fred Dubee, Rachel Steinberg, Assistant Director for Civil Society Partnerships, U. S. Fund for UNICEF, Ronald K. Chitotela, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport for Zambia and the UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi.



  • Science is set to change lives for Ghana’s schoolkids

    We believe education is the best route out of poverty, so we’re delighted to be working with Lightyear Foundation on their science lab-with-a-difference project in West Africa.

    Lab_13 is their scheme to ignite passion, stir up curiosity and mix ideas to create future industry leaders, and it’s being launched in Ghana this month.

    It’s not about learning science out of textbooks but by getting hands-on and doing experiments to find out how things work.

    Organised by Lightyear Foundation and Ignite! and run by a team of passionate scientists (including two from the UK) and a student committee in Ghana, Lab_13 paves the way for youngsters to step up and lead their nation’s science industry via a journey of exploration and experimentation.

    The idea is simple – empower students, teachers and communities by showing how local, cheap and easily accessible materials can be used to bring the high school curriculum to life. All activities are led by the curiosity and questions of the children, so they learn through doing, questioning, imagining and testing.

    More than 230 pupils in Ghana will get to use the dedicated science lab at Agape Academy in the Bosomtwe District, and British pupils can take part too via special video link sessions.

    This is the first Lab_13 outside of the UK so it’s wonderful to help this exciting idea grow and develop.

    And who knows where it could go – all those inquisitive minds finding out about the world via hands-on activities will surely become the next generation of passionate scientists and lead the way in all sorts of arenas.



  • Back to school – British kids help others across the globe go to lessons

    UK youngsters have been packing not only their own school bags to go back to classes for the new term, but also putting together equipment packs for kids in less fortunate communities.

    Children in Weston-Super-Mare helped out at a School in a Bag (www.schoolinabag.org) event at the Bucket & Spade pub, helping their counterparts in countries such as Romania, Uganda, Kenya and Cambodia attend lessons.

    The special backpacks contain things like pencils, maths tools, notebooks and a lunchbox, so that kids have all the things they need when they get to class. Simple but hugely effective, they open up education to youngsters who might not otherwise be able to go to school. This is a vital part in giving them a route out of poverty and to a happier, healthier and more prosperous life for them, their family and their community.

    According to UNICEF figures, 20% of the world’s child population will never attend school, so initiatives such as this not only offer practical help, but also symbolise hope for a brighter future.



  • Be a trustee; be happy

    In today’s fast-paced, consumer-driven world we are often reminded that happiness is not to be found in the things we own but in the connections we make with others. And I absolutely believe that this is true.

    As today is the UN International Day of Happiness, I’m thinking about the things that make me happy. And it turns out I am happiest when doing something for others.

    A review by the NHS found that volunteering has a positive impact on self-esteem, depression, stress, emotional exhaustion, our ability to cope with illness and general life satisfaction.

    A great way to volunteer is to become a trustee for a charity. It’s something open to all ages and backgrounds and with over half of all charities currently with a trustee vacancy, it’s very much needed too!

    Trusteeships can complement and add value to life in all sorts of ways, helping you to develop new skills for personal and professional development, giving you experience of other communities and cultures, and bringing about positive change for all involved. Being a trustee is great for teamwork, meeting new people, learning skills, visiting different places and embracing opportunities.

    I’m a trustee for two charities - one local and one international. Through my roles I’ve learnt a huge amount about teamwork and professional development and both have given me a host of unique and varied experiences plus new networks of high level contacts.

    If you decide to become a trustee, and I hope that you do, then the personal and professional rewards are high – just as much as you give, you’ll get ten-fold in return.

    The time commitment is not unreasonable and your responsibilities are clearly defined, so you really should not worry about over-stretching yourself or doing something wrong.

    And if you think that you have nothing to offer, think again! We all have skills and experience that we can use on a trustee board to make a difference and help others. From legal and finance experts to people who can take a photo that tells a story – charities need all sorts of people to help them thrive.

    Interested? Why not contact your favourite local charity and see if they have a trustee vacancy? Or have a look on www.do-it.org.uk and use their trustee search. For more guidance or if you have questions, www.gettingonboard.org runs a signposting service – a 30-minute phone call and a follow-up including details of four possible appointments that could help you bring more happiness into your life, and the lives of others.

    by Katherine Sparkes, Director at Flamingo



  • Get your kit off – and support Project Fair Play

    Football is one of those sports that has the ability to appeal to everyone. Whether you’re a kid kicking a worn-out ball around the park, a keen fan in the stalls every weekend come rain or shine, or an international sporting hero with feet worth millions – football ignites passion and forges communities.

    We all have our favourite teams and players, but sometimes we can ignore the rivalries and banter to come together and be united in our passion for the beautiful game.

    This is why our Project Fair Play campaign is inspiring so many of you to get involved – it uses the sport to help people at home and away and gives all footie fans the chance to lend their support.

    We’re calling on people to donate any unwanted footie shirts – whether that’s last season’s kit or tops the kids have outgrown. It doesn’t matter what club or how out-dated they are, they will be put to good use just the same.

    Already we have had thousands of donations, but we want to beat the total from Project Fair Play 2010 when we collected a staggering 20,000 shirts, so we need more! It’s a really easy way for you to get involved in a fantastic project without having to put your hands in your pockets.

    Project Fair Play will take the shirts directly to disadvantaged youngsters in Brazil’s favelas (slums) so that they can feel a real part of the World Cup excitement. There are beneficiary projects in Parada de Lucas, Santa Teresa and Rocinha favelas, where dozens of kids struggle to get clean water each day and often don’t have access to education.

    British youngsters will also benefit, as some shirts will be recycled for cash for the Wheelchair Football Association, which governs powerchair football in the UK and works to give disabled youngsters access to the sport.

    We’re really excited about giving kids in Brazil and in Britain a sporting chance at life and ensuring they can be part of the wonderful football community that we all love.

    All you have to do to be part of the project is drop off an unwanted footie shirt, but if you want to go the extra mile then you could have a shirt amnesty day at school or arrange a collection at your workplace.

    We’re also really keen to get local football teams involved – perhaps you have just invested in new kit and want to send the old shirts to a good home? Or maybe you have current shirts that the mud just won’t wash out of – we can recycle these and raise money for the project.

    Next time you’re having a five-a-side match with your mates after work, or heading down to the ground on Saturday with the kids, please think about what football means to you and how you could share that passion with disadvantaged kids. www.projectfairplay.org.uk



  • International Disability Day

    December 3rd, is International Disability Day. It’s a celebration, created by the United Nations, to honour the one billion people worldwide living with some kind of disability. That’s 15% of the global population!

    Today is about promoting an understanding of disability issues and the rights of people with disabilities. We firmly believe that positive impact comes from the integration of those with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of our communities.

    To mark International Disability Day, we’d like you to introduce you to five of our friends from the international community, all of whom are affected by disability in some way.

    Joseph for example, lives in Bangalore, Southern India. He helps care for his grandson, Rahul (12) who has autism and cerebral palsy. Before Rahul was born, Joseph had very little experience of learning disability but, inspired by the lack of adequate provision for children with special needs in India, he set up the Balajothi Centre for the Disabled.

    Fela in Madagasgar was diagnosed with polio at the age of three. Her battle with the disease has given her the strength to help others who are handicapped. She pioneered the adoption of a law in Madagascar recognizing the rights of handicapped people and providing assistance to nearly two million disabled persons across her country. She founded her own organization, Centre Sembana Mijoro, to provide educational and professional assistance for handicapped children and young adults.

    Here’s a link to all the stories from India, America, Brazil, Madagascar and Canada.




  • Flamingos on the run!

    It was great to see our Flamingo runners out in force at the Bristol Half Marathon this weekend. The team donned pink feathers and flamingo masks, which although not particularly aerodynamic for running did look amazing and allowed our supporters to easily see them in the crowds.

    As they put one foot in front of the other for mile after mile, there was plenty of time for chatting and reflecting on running; why we do it and what it means to people.

    It turns out that running is so much more than just pounding the streets for the sake of being active. It is also a fantastic way to connect with other people and take time to appreciate the beautiful environment you find yourself in, whether that is the city streets of Bristol or far-flung corners of the countryside.

    Running, particularly in big events such as last Sunday’s Bristol Half Marathon and the Great North Run, can be incredibly emotional too. People who are running to raise money often write who they are running for and why on their shirts, and as you chat to fellow runners you get a real sense of how much we all go through in our lives and how we can work through difficulties together.

    And let’s not forget that running does wonders for the body and mind. The personal challenge and commitment of training for something like this is amazing for mental wellbeing and de-stressing after a hard day at work. Runners often say the best way to clear their head and work through the problems of the day is by pulling on their shoes and getting out for a few miles.

    If you haven’t run a race before, or even run at all, it is never too late to start. There are all sorts of training apps and programmes to get you going, and before you know it you too could be crossing that finishing line, grinning and weary, to collect a medal and collapse!

    Why not combine the joy of running with a direct way of doing good in your community? We love Good Gym (www.goodgym.org) which helps you get fit and transform your home town. You can also register to be a guide for a blind or partially sighted runner at www.guidedogs.org.uk/events/volunteering/guide-runners.



  • Little Learners

    The latest from The Flamingo Foundation...

    Introducing 'Little Learners' - creating a global community to help disadvantaged children access and engage with education at home & away.


    We create multi-sensory Culture Kits for primary school children. Designed to tackle xenophobia head on, the kits enhance children’s understanding of different cultures at an early age.

    The UK has been fast-tracked along the road to multi-culturalism over the last couple of decades so it’s really important that our future leaders are educated about different cultures so they are able to live with both understanding and empathy for others.

    Unfortunately the level of access to an interactive range of educational tools on global and UK cultures varies dramatically by school across the UK.

    Our Culture Kits bridge this gap with engaging and interactive activities – they’re also great for kids with extra educational needs and learning disabilities.


    We believe that access to education is the best route out of poverty. Little Learners overseas works to make schooling accessible for all.

    This year we are focusing on two key projects. One is aimed at tackling rural poverty in Kenya and the other tackling social violence in Brazil – where kids as young as 7 are part of armed gangs. We will be giving these children access to education which they would not otherwise have by building new classrooms, providing text books, training teachers and creating a safe environment where everyone wants to learn and has the chance to do so.


    Kids all around the world should have the opportunity to learn and grow together – and in doing so, help each other.

    To do this, we link up participants in our ‘Home & Away’ projects using the latest technology to unite children around the globe via:

    - Skype link ups

    - Participating in educational sessions together through Google Hangout

    - Video diaries and messages

    - Photo exchange

    Our Little Learners all over the world are learning and growing together and these activities unite children from different global communities to be able to see, hear and cultivate new friendships. The aim is to help them see outside their immediate community, and we want them to dare to dream about other possibilities for a life they could lead.



  • Football - A universal language

    They say that sport brings the world together, and it certainly helps integrate street children into education and the open community.

    In Rio, and Brazil in general, football is a religion, and it truly unites the nation. With Hall of Fame legends like Pele, Romário, Zico and Ronaldo among their sporting greats, and five World Cups to their name, it’s no wonder the street kids want to emulate their heroes from such a young age and play for the likes of Fluminense and São Paulo.

    This morning’s project was a visit to a shelter for street children called Casa Jimmy. Located up on the hills in the favela of Santa Teresa, it isn’t a home for them to sleep in, simply a respite centre open three days a week. It's where the youngsters get food, a wash, clean clothes, some much needed TLC and also to take part in a range of educational activities.

    Today we were running football workshops. The moment you mention football you just watch their little faces light up.

    We were lead outside to a small patch of grass where we could do some drills. We asked whether or not we could use the big basketball court which was on their land. We were told no, as the fences were broken allowing several dangerous dogs access to the area and because of this it also needed to be cleaned up somewhat. Something which the project couldn't afford to do. Such a shame, considering this space was theirs.

    Despite our tiny token pitch and inflatable goal posts we'd packed in our luggage, before we knew it the children were running around passing the ball and shooting for goal, celebrating when the ball went in the net as if we were highly paid footballers playing in a stadium.

    Many world footballing stars began on the streets, learning their skills and pitting them against each other as they dreamt of playing on the world stage.

    It is the love of the sport that unites everyone in Brazil, and the excitement of the upcoming world cup in 2014 – Brazil’s first hosting of the competition since 1950 – is building day-by-day. Who’s to say whether we met some of Rio’s future stars during our visit.

    As our time in Casa Jimmy came to a close, we were met with the biggest bunch of high fives and hugs from everybody. And, as we waved goodbye to the children, we were also waving goodbye to an unbelievable experience that – with the right level of funding – could be a pivotal part in providing a better way of life to these children as the world’s eyes turn to Rio for the next World Cup.



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