2016 marks the 20th anniversary year of Red Balloon, a charity that supports the recovery of severely bullied children who have self-excluded from mainstream education. The charity gives these young people their lives back by raising their self-esteem, building their confidence and encouraging them to value themselves and take control of their lives. Whilst interning at Red Balloon, Alexander (also known as Alex), focused on fundraising.
Alex has a degree from Cambridge in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and is fluent in English, Iraqi and Jordanian Arabic and Spanish. While studying at university, Alex undertook an internship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan, and volunteered as an English teacher working with refugees.
In June, Alex reported on his “learning curve” over the first six months of his internship, and on how privileged he has felt:
“To be able to get involved in all aspects of the charity, from teaching both politics and English, writing fundraising and awards applications and attending fundraising events, to taking charge of social media, reviving the blog, and getting stuck into the organisation of the inaugural Cambridge Children’s Charity Week.”
Fundraising activities have included a picnic for children, staff, parents and trustees; a Carol Concert; coffee mornings; a student play; organisation of the 20th Anniversary Dinner in London for over 60 guests, and a whole host of sponsorship activities, for individuals and organisations.
Alex’s manager, Carrie Herbert, the founder of Red Balloon, reported on the difference Alex’s internship has made to the organisation and to her personally:
“His role has provided Red Balloon with more bandwidth for fundraising applications, another pair of hands to network, to talk to politician’s advisers, to help respond to incoming calls regarding bullied children and to represent me at receptions and meetings that I cannot attend. We now see the need and have taken the steps to set up a dedicated Development Office at Red Balloon. His internship made it clear this was the next logical step we had to take.
Alex’s help, dedication, enthusiasm and ability has made him the ideal intern for Red Balloon. He has, at the drop of a hat, turned his attention to whatever is needed … We are indebted to him and will miss him when he leaves, but we are also indebted to the Rank Foundation for this opportunity.”
During his internship with Red Balloon, Alex has, amongst other task, assisted in the organisation of the meetings for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Bullying for which Red Balloon is the Secretariat; assisted the Centre for Social Justice in the organisation of the Red Balloon Round Table meeting and production of the report, Bullying and Self-exclusion – Who Cares?
Alex has also assisted in the production and direction of a short film about bullying, with fellow Rank intern, Jonathan Green, from TrueTube. Alex is particularly proud of the film-making, and has greatly enjoyed working with TrueTube.
Commenting on the launch of the film, Stronger to coincide with this year’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Week (in November 2016), Carrie Herbert said:
“I am delighted and thrilled with the film that TrueTube has made about the issue of bullying and self-excluded children. Hannah beautifully shows the stress and torment suffered by a thirteen-year-old who is forced to leave school as a consequence of systematic and severe bullying. With the right help and support, such as that given by Red Balloon, as the sixteen-year-old Hannah describes so well, young people can find themselves and emerge as confident and positive young people ready to face the next chapter of their educational career.”
Alex’s ambitions include studying for a Master’s in International Relations, after gaining experience working for a Member of Parliament.