The History of SKIP
In 1999, a small group of healthcare students from Cardiff University began to develop a project, working with children in an orphanage in Belarus. They were shocked by the conditions they found there, but also aware that there were simple contributions they could make that would help improve the children’s quality of life. Each summer they would send out groups of students to provide manpower to support the care programs and recreational activities of the orphanage, as well as raising funds to supplement staff wages and the development of facilities at the orphanage.
It became apparent that the students had the capacity and perseverance to drive the development of such a project, and the orphanage as well as the students flourished through this process. This realisation drove the initial creation of SKIP (Students for Kids International Projects); a vision where healthcare students throughout the UK would learn to develop projects in conjunction with local overseas collaborating organisations, aimed at improving the lives of children and their communities.
In Autumn 2002 the concept was presented at a national medical students conference at the University of Birmingham. From that day the first official branch of SKIP was born, and they began to research the development of a new project that would try to meet the ideals and evolving ethos that was SKIP. A few months later a group of students from the University of Birmingham went to Zambia to begin to research suitable projects. That summer, in 2003, fifty volunteers travelled to Kanakantapa, Zambia to assist a local organisation in developing two community schools.
It was at this stage that the ethos of SKIP began to thrive. It became less of a concept and more a set of moral and ethical codes by which projects should attempt to run. The projects sought to be sustainable and to integrate with the local communities, empowering them to support the health, welfare and education of their children. At the same time, we also began to focus on encouraging multi-disciplinary teamwork, personal and professional development and a greater understanding of international health amongst our student volunteers.
In late 2003, SKIP became an officially registered UK charity and in 2004 alumni of the schemes in Birmingham and Cardiff collaborated to develop a National Committee. By the autumn of 2005, the first SKIP National Conference was held and new branches were recruited to begin the development of their own projects. Students from universities across the country began needs assessment trips and pilot projects over the coming two years and by 2007 SKIP had several established projects taking place around the world.
SKIP grew faster than anyone expected.
In Autumn 2007, the SKIP Trustees were created; a governing body and supporting alumni who had several years experience and knowledge that could be utilised to guide and support the national committee, branches and projects as well as to make difficult and complex decisions about the charities growth, ethical behaviours and critical events.
By 2008, our constitution was revised and a new system of bylaws was launched where all branch, national committee and executive board members would work together to develop and govern them. From naïve and humble beginnings, SKIP has emerged with a stronge sense of identity and unity and a firmer system of morals and ethics than ever before.
To date SKIP has continued to grow in both size and enthusiasm. We currently have ten active branches reaching and positively impacting on the lives of vulnerable children across Africa and Asia. We hold General Assemblies each year at which bylaws and national policy are debated and laid down, as well as two Big Weekends, where training and information sharing between projects occurs.