For the first two years of university I worked in a family run jewellers six days a week in my small hometown. It was great, my bosses were kind, and I earned lots of money which allowed me to do many things I otherwise couldn't have the following semester. But in the summer of third year I was faced with different prospects...
Since 2010, 32 refuges for domestic abuse victims have been shut down. Victims now outnumber refuge beds 3,262 to one. Refuge, one of the largest women and children's refuges in the UK, has reported an 80 per cent cut to their services since 2011. All of this has placed incredible strain upon these services and left victims with fewer options.
I have a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy which basically means I have exceptionally weak muscles all over, so I can't walk, am totally dependent on an electric wheelchair and need 24 hour care support to live independently, but I don't want to be seen as anyone special and I'm certainly not looking for sympathy.
Kamal Aftab, who has died aged 33, was a youth mentor, fundraising champion and optometrist. He was also my younger brother. Originally from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, Kamal died at Leeds' Saint James's University Hospital on the 7 August 2015 after a six-week battle against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. My brother's passion was simple, but vast: it was the service of humanity.
There are certain realities you have to face when you have a cancer diagnosis. Life is never going to be quite the same again. Chemotherapy saps your strength and energy levels and the radiotherapy is sore long after you leave the unit, but worse than the treatment itself, for many women, is the hair loss.
I'm not an expert on running a charity. But I am a businessperson and an entrepreneur. Every day I learn new things from other businesspeople - and I go out looking for new stuff to learn about running a successful business. I absolutely know there are millions of things I still don't even know that I don't know. But what I do know is that if you look at Kids Company from a business point of view, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
It's been an extraordinary experience; difficult, hot, cold, lonely, funny, emotional and mentally and physically exhausting in a way I couldn't have imagined. But crucially also hugely rewarding, not just for myself, but also in the raising of the money for Walking With The Wounded, which I hope will only increase (£18k to date). And, thankfully, only truly scary once or twice...