We love having Me2 Club as part of our Connect Reading family! Shaun Polley, Chief Executive Officer, took some time to answer our questions and tell us a bit more about the charity.
Me2 Club tackles the isolation felt by marginalised children (aged 5 to 19 years) with wide ranging additional needs and disabilities, regardless of a formal diagnosis. Only by recruiting and training passionate volunteer ‘befrienders’ can we ensure ‘Inclusion for All’ within mainstream leisure activities.
Why did you join Connect Reading?
As a local charity that has recently expanded into Reading being part of Connect Reading has the benefit of putting a spotlight on our work and means that we have the support of a larger community.
What was your biggest challenge last year?
Our biggest challenge over the last year isn’t one unique to Me2 Club as we’ve had to adapt to rapid changes in the funding landscape. COVID-19 has really impacted the charity’s income and we’re always looking at how we can be creative and innovative to meet this challenge.
What have you learned?
I’m fortunate to work with a highly skilled, passionate and resilient team who are all committed to making a difference to the lives of local children. This year has really reinforced that for an organisation to be successful, how vital it is to look after the people working and volunteering there.
What has been your biggest creative triumph as an organisation?
We knew from speaking to our families that we had to react quickly to move our support online so that children could continue taking part in fun social activities. We also had to be inventive to support those children who were not able to take part in our online projects, and for them we sent out numerous craft and sensory activity packs. Our online support has been really effective, and we were recognised as a finalist in the UK Youth Inspiring Hope Awards because of our work.
What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Definitely getting children back to the leisure activities they benefit from and enjoy! I only joined Me2 Club in June 2020, while we were still in lockdown, so I’m also looking forward to getting the chance to meet children and families in person and hearing their thoughts about new ways that Me2 Club can support them.