Little Wings for Big Flyer
13 January 2014 at 10:10 am
Within two years, recruitment company highflyer Kevin Robinson has turned his dream to help sick children into a reality. Robinson is this week’s Changemaker.
After a successful business career predominantly in engineering and manufacturing sector and later building up his recruitment business, PKC Recruitment, Robinson reached a point in 2011 where he thought it was time to give back.
Speaking to staff at The Children's Hospital at Westmead revealed to Robinson a need for children with cancer – and Little Wings was born.
Using two donated planes that are flown by volunteer pilots (including Robinson who has his pilot licence) and putting his own capital forward to get it off the ground, the charity transports ill children from their homes in rural NSW to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Looking forward Robinson will be focusing on corporate sponsorship to gain $500,000 for Little Wings to boost its flights from 180 in 2014 to 300 in 2015.
Robinson won the Start-up Not for Profit Executive title in the Westpac Community Leaders Awards 2013 for leaders who have set up an organisation dedicated to community service.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
Little Wings has short, medium and longer term goals as funding increases. Our broad goal is to improve the health and emotional outcomes for seriously ill children and their families, who live in rural and regional communities across Australia.
However, starting at state level with an initial focus on children being treated for cancer, has allowed Little Wings to build a model for scalability.
Short to medium term – five stages – may overlap:
1. Increase number of flights available to rural children receiving cancer treatment and attending The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
2. Extend service to rural children receiving cancer treatment and attending the Children’s Hospital at Randwick.
3. Extend service to rural children with other serious illnesses receiving ongoing specialist treatment within Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
4. Extend service to allow transportation of specialist clinical nurse consultants to regional communities to support the hospitals’ outreach programs for children.
5. Extend service to other NSW hospitals providing specialist paediatric care to seriously ill children living in rural and regional NSW.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
Having had a successful career, and raised four great kids, I felt that it would be rewarding to do something for the community.
After exploring a few options, I met with the team at The Children's Hospital at Westmead in 2011 and learned about the plight that many families from regional NSW face with seriously ill children.
Having learnt to fly at the age of 16, I could see an immediate need for a suitable flight service to help children and families in regional NSW.
From that point I have worked to develop a service that meets the specific needs of these families, which we can proudly claim we are well on the way to achieving.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Little Wings started as an idea in 2011, with the goal to complete one to two flights a week, to help families during cancer treatment at The Children's Hospital Westmead.
Using my spare time as a pilot, and hiring aircraft, I hoped to help a small number of families across NSW.
What I didn’t anticipate is the huge personal reward that is felt when helping kids with cancer with service.
The inspiration I received from not only helping these kids, but also the very tangible way which we help the entire family, at a time of their greatest need, is today my driving force to succeed.
Helping these kids and families has been the inspiration for Little Wings to establish a professional flight and ground support service reaching to the borders of NSW.
Our goal now is to complete 180 flights in the year ahead, increasing to 300 flights the following year.
A significant difference to the 30-40 flights a year I was thinking about in the beginning.
I consider my greatest achievement to be …
Since completing our first flight in September 2012, we now have two dedicated aircraft, a dedicated ground support people mover, and we completing flights three to four days a week.
Knowing that we are making a significant and very real difference to these kids and families, and we are delivering the service we hoped for is something we are extremely proud of.