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Derek Wise writes: “Why I Became a Trustee of Red Balloon”

November 6, 2013

I came to Red Balloon-Cambridge looking for an opportunity to support a cause very near to my heart – that of recovering children who have been so severely bullied that education in school becomes a nightmare for them.

The reason was that I, as a father, had found myself dealing with a situation where my son had been so badly bullied that the school in which he had been was now unsafe. So I decided to change my job and relocate to another country.

We came to Cambridge, UK because the schools are good and the support communities are strong. But, even here in England there are thousands of children bullied so badly each year they no longer attend school and slip through the cracks of all other support systems.

As a trustee of Red Balloon-Cambridge I am honoured to be a part of a team entrusted to protecting the safety, education, and happiness of children in Cambridgeshire and helping them recover and return to mainstream education. We spend our time considering how to improve the quality of our provision, how to find ways around the barriers which bar entry in the programme and to make sure we are growing and learning as we support those who provide the excellent education and therapy offered at the Centre.

Besides oversight and administration we also try to take on the crucial role of fundraising and awareness raising. Many of our students are not able to get full funding support from the local authority or their schools. Some need intense counselling along with a safe educational environment.

Although the need to help is great, the funding to make the provision possible is unfortunately not there by default so we have to fight to help these children. So, as a trustee, we organise events, donate of ourselves, tell our story, and try to give people the opportunity to support a programme that touches their hearts as well.

This year I have done what I can to be a walking billboard for Red Balloon-Cambridge: organising fundraising events at work, collecting money at a bake sale, running in the mud and cold, and even wearing silly costumes to work. Each time I knew the money I raised would be helping a student have time in a room with a trained counsellor, have a one to one maths skills lesson in a safe environment or to prepare for, take and pass GCSE exams that otherwise would have been impossible had that child remained at home under the duvet. To miss out on schooling because of bullying is a sad loss to them as well as society as it may well end their education and probably inhibit their future potential and success. I’d wear a silly costume any day for that.”

Derek Wise
Executive Director (Platform as a Service)
Jagex Games Studio

Please support the work of Red Balloon Learner Centres by donating now

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