chairman's report

Well, what a year! I said let’s make 2017-18 a great one and you did. Our funding turnover increases again on last year’s figures. This is in no small way related to our fundraising efforts and fund raisers and many supporters, both past and present. To mention a few, the GNR “Team Kayaks”, Individual fundraising marathon running, and many fund-raising opportunities and events mainly organised by Kimberley Elliott. Again, no “Core funding”, but again a very successful year.

Our collaborative working too continues to expand and in the last year have worked once again with Autismable, Your Voice Counts, Inspire South Tyneside, and Paddleability/Active Northumberland; Kayaks have also been “Cited” in published research with Autistica and Newcastle University Department of Psychology and are once again are involved in ongoing research projects there too. We also work with our local “Parent Carer Forum.” I have also been appointed Director of Autismable and “Director” of Spectrum Enterprises”, a company who aim is to encourage adults with Autism into supported self-employment. In addition, we are hosting the “All About Me” course delivered by Autism in Mind, Sunderland. Collaboration continues within the borough too, with a short film made highlighting difficulties that some of our young people face managing their money. The local branch of Santander has been instrumental in highlighting this issue.

As ever, during the Summer Kayaks took part in South Tyneside’s Summer Parade, the theme being Magic, Monsters and Myths. All of our members made a huge effort and a massive impact on the day. Thanks to all who both organised and took part. This was complemented too by our Summer Fun day. We were delighted to welcome along the Mayor, Cllr Ken Stephenson and Mrs Cath Stephenson, Mayoress.

Once again, I am also delighted to announce that we have another new “Patron”. Mr Colin “Man in the big pink Dress” Burgin-Plews, in addition to Dr Shobha Srivastava and Rev Ian Davies. Colin is passionate about raising “Big issues”, highlighting them and helps by raising awareness by fundraising. He has run the Great North Run 17 times, and we are proud that he will be highlighting our Charity in particular, and the work that we do. 

This year, 123 members attended the Calvert Trust Kielder in March, for a 2-night adventure activity residential break. Our largest yet. We took 14 people to Snowdonia in July for a Young Committee and Volunteer weekend. Amongst other things, the aim was to encourage leadership, team building, self-confidence and communal living. This was a great success.
The following month a group of 36 stayed at Thurston O.E.C. near Coniston for a four-night, 5-day week of outdoor activities. This was an enjoyable and challenging week for those involved, some of whom had never been away from home by themselves ever before.

 We were nominated again in the “Community group of the year” category in “The Best of South Tyneside” awards 2018. 10 of the Committee attended, and although we didn’t win, it was a pleasure to congratulate all those who did, and support the winners.

We are delighted to have had such interest from our parents and carers in becoming a Volunteer for Kayaks. Consequently, we now have a large contingent of parents “wearing the black shirt”; helping out, delivering wall climbing, keeping our children safe and organising charity nights. 

Kayaks was founded on a “two-fold” need. To allow our kids to socialise without judgement, essentially with other children like them. The second was to empower parents by information giving, advising, supporting, advocating and sign-posting. By the requests for help and advice, it was obvious that we could not meet demand on Saturday afternoons. Out of that need, K.O.P.E. (Kayaks Outreach Project Enterprise) was born. The realisation and reality, is that our parents need time to discuss in depth and at length, some of the issues affecting them and their families. KOPE is a way of “redressing the balance with a bonus”. Not only will there be the advice and information service, but using available research we were able to demonstrate that those who care, often forget to care for themselves. To that end, KOPE is also developing the “wellbeing” side of the service, Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, Craft classes, Exercise, Drop-in sessions, coffee mornings, Adult ASD diagnostic referrals, home visits and benefits advice too. Exciting times are ahead. KOPE is based at Trinity house social centre, Laygate. Lorraine Temple leads on this service. 

As a result of publicity and awareness our referral rate has massively increased. Our service is available to any family in the “North East of England”, affected by Special Educational needs and Disability. Spread the word, tell other people because in the world that is Special Educational needs and Disability, “You don’t know, what you don’t know”. 

Finally, I would like to thank our members, our supporters, our volunteers, our young committee and the Kayaks committee, without whose massive contribution “behind the scenes” The Kayaks would be dead in the water.. Thank you.