"My name is Jennifer Wood and I am the Founder and Director of Hands Up! Education in Action.
Where did Hands Up! come from?
My idea for Hands Up! came all the way back in 2009 as an outcome to my Masters dissertation. The project started off small; one staff member working full-time across multiple sites, delivering Life Skills sessions to vulnerable children.
Over time, the project grew. The staff team continued to grow along with it, and the charity was officially registered with the Charity Commission in 2014.
Nowadays, we have 6 fantastic local staff who work full-time across numerous sites in Nakuru, including a juvenile remand home, street child centres, and a slum school. I have established the setup in such a way that we can keep our overheads low; our monthly outgoings cover the absolute essentials such as staff wages and resources, but do not require full office access or buildings. We work with more of an 'outreach' approach, but have long-term relationships with our partner sites to ensure our provision is consistently working towards and hitting our initial objectives.
Our main objective is to provide education to vulnerable children, and my staff are doing an excellent job at this!
Over the years, my staff have worked with hundreds of children across various sites, offering support and guidance, demonstrating skills which will support them through life, and providing counselling where needed. Now, our main delivery comes in three parts:
- Academic Support
- Counselling and Guidance
- Life Skills
Becoming A Trauma-Informed Charity Project
Since establishing the charity, I have also founded an alternative provision in the UK, offering trauma-informed intervention and academic support to children aged 6-16 who have been excluded, are at risk of exclusion, have special educational needs, or who have social and emotional issues. Due to the success of our trauma-informed approach in the UK, I am now working towards supporting Hands Up to become a trauma-informed charity project.
Becoming trauma-informed means that our work is grounded in an understanding of the impact of trauma, and our ethos is built on 'connection before correction'.
Running a charity voluntarily alongside an all-consuming full-time job can be challenging at times, but I am so lucky to have a passionate team in Kenya on whom I can rely. I am also lucky to have met a very caring sponsor who has supported us during the last few years as we hit a stage of financial difficulty. I am so grateful for this support.
We have managed to run entirely from donations since 2009, and can only continue to operate due to the big hearts and financial support from our donors. Due to the increasing cost of living in Kenya for our staff and the cost of resources, we do always need more sponsors. I am always so grateful for any donation of any size; you can be sure when you donate to Hands Up! that your donation is going directly into the work in Kenya, and that no UK staff or fundraisers are paid a penny for their role.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us to get to this stage, and I hope to be able to continue providing this much-needed service to needy young people in Kenya."