At the first Armchair Adventure Festival we raised a whopping £9,600 for the NHS Charities Together Fund in support of their COVID-19 emergency relief appeal. Thank you so much if you were one of the amazing people who donated! As well as other things, your donations helped provide smart devices which patients could use to contact their loved ones from COVID-19 wards where visiting wasn’t possible. What a brilliant and important thing to have funded!
After the festival we got straight to work on planning the next one and by early summer we were “eating out to help out” as we discussed who we could raise for now the NHS wasn’t in such a tough situation! We were also wondering if anyone would ‘come’ to an all weekend virtual festival when the country wasn’t in lockdown. Sadly, we shouldn’t have worried as with the second lockdown it looks like on the weekend of the festival you’re going to have the choice of watching us or reminding yourself that you still can’t bake bread. Still, at the time, we did go ahead and choose a new charity to support at the next festival and that charity is COCO – an international children’s charity.
COCO is a small a charity based in the North East of England with the goal of creating a world where all children, everywhere have access to a quality education. Their current focus is on rolling out their pioneering Schools for Life programme in East Africa and last year they positively impacted over 21,000 people. They’re a small charity which makes a massive difference and right now they need all the help they can get.
Since, the outbreak of COVID-19, COCO has lost £130,000 in event income. More than a third of the charity’s annual turnover. This comes at a time when their beneficiaries need them more than ever. COCO has gone from helping to develop sustainable, quality education opportunities, to providing emergency aid. In some cases, schools have had to step up their role in the community to provide meals for children whose parents can’t afford to feed them at home. In other cases, they’re having to stump up the cash to support individual children who have lost a parent due to COVID-19 and can’t afford to go back to school. It’s an incredibly tough time for the charity and those who it supports in East Africa.
Through adapting how they work and making staff and overhead cuts here in the UK, COCO have been able to keep up their level of support in East Africa but now they need our support to try and tackle some of the unfolding challenges which a COVID-19 world presents. So if you’re going to come along to the festival we’re asking if you can chuck a couple of quid in our tip jar. All of the money in the tip jar goes directly to COCO and helps provide brighter futures for people in East Africa.
Specifically we’ll be raising money to support families in Bwayi, Western Kenya. The situation in Bwayi has turned from bad to worse as a result of COVID-19. Many women in the area work on large fruit picking plantations. They start at 4am, work 14 hour days and then go home having made 40 pence. It averages out at 2.8p an hour. It’s just enough to buy very basic food for their family so it’s better than nothing and many women spend their entire lives on the plantations trying to make enough money to survive.
COCO has teamed up with a local organisation to provide sustainable agriculture training to women in the area. They provide a few tools, some seeds and the knowhow for women to grow their own food at home. The women do the same job as before and work the land, but now they do it for themselves. Women who have benefited from the project are able to grow enough healthy, nutritious food for their entire family and they are even able to sell surplus at local markets. On average it results in a 300% increase in income and the additional money means they can afford to send their children to school. COCO have been rolling out this training as fast as they can but since COVID-19 hit the area the situation has gotten more urgent. The plantations have been forced to close and now the many women who haven’t already had the Sustainable Agriculture Training have no income whatsoever. This lack of income is having some truly alarming impacts in the region, including a rise in teenage pregnancy, which is associated with young girls having to sell sex to feed their families.
Every penny we raise for COCO throughout the weekend will go towards funding Sustainable Agriculture Training in Bwayi and it only costs £70 to raise enough money to train one woman and change the lives of a whole family.
Please donate if you can. Donating is entirely optional though, we get that this is an incredibly tough time for everyone! If you can’t afford to donate, you’re still very much welcome and please enjoy what will hopefully be a corker of a weekend!
If you can donate here’s the button!
And don’t forget to sign up for your free front row seat here.
Contributor: Matt Bishop
Matt’s one half of ‘The Sidecar Guys’ and when he’s not hosting the Armchair Adventure Festival or trying to sell you his book about riding around the world on a scooter and sidecar, he works part-time for COCO! That’s why we know they’re a good bunch who are well worth our support.