Blog Archives

New Camden ZoneOver the past few months, we have been working on a number of projects reaching out into the community and partnering with local people and organisations to improve the lives of Camden children and young people.

Axis is the new Camden-commissioned mental health service for 16 to 24 year olds across the borough. We are delighted to be part of a consortium supported by Catch22 that will deliver the service over the next two years, bringing together experts in community, mental health and youth work.

Axis will operate across Camden as well as out of its base in the old Post Office on Finchley Road, at a building called The Hive. It will support young people alongside local partners in different parts of the borough. For more information about the service, click here.

North Camden Zone is a piece of work funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation and Locality focusing on how to bring people together to make sure that North Camden is a great place to grow up for every child.

North Camden Zone was born out of the belief that if local families, residents and services work together we can improve the life chances of local children and young people. So far, 200 local people and nearly 50 professionals have given their opinions on how to improve the area, including what they can do.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’re hoping to open a pop-up shop in Swiss Cottage at the old Me Love Sushi site will provide a physical space for people to pop into, share their ideas and meet others who are getting involved. Whilst the Zone has been convened by The Winch, it will be owned and developed by the community.

If you’d like to find out more or get involved, email or have a look at the Zone’s Commonplace site, where you can comment on what you think is great about our area, or what you’d like to help improve.

Throughout the summer the library will be hosting a series of four meetings entitled "Parenthood: A Piece of Cake?!" which have been organised by Wrap a Hug. The meetings are aimed at pregnant women and parents of all ages. Topics covered include baby wearing, aromatherapy, traveling with children, and doulas. Entry is free for all sessions. Read about the meetings offered below and for more information contact or call Azzurra at 07928513877.

Summer at the Belsize Community Library is filled with exciting activities for both parents and 0-5 year olds! The full summer programme will begin on Tuesday 14th of July and end on Wednesday the 12th of August, but there will be some activities available before then as well. Whether you are interested in participating in the summer activities with your child, volunteering at the library or making a donation, we encourage you to get involved in the library this summer. Take a look below to learn more about the activities available and don’t hesitate to email or call 020 7078 7483 with any questions.

Before July 14th:

Parents Workspace with Crèche, a supportive programme that allows parents to get some work done in the library while their children are looked after, will run every Thursday from 10-1 for £6 an hour until the 16th of July.

From July 14th:

unnamed (2)In April we sent out surveys to the parents and children who use The Winch. We received responses from 35 parents and 35 children and the results truly highlight the value of being a part of The Winch family.

‘Fun’ was cited as the best thing about the Winch by most of the children. Three quarters of respondents said they had learnt new things such as cooking, dancing, knitting, games and maths. Some also talked about learning to communicate, socialise and respect adults. As a result of being at the Winch, 82% said they had made a new friend and 70% said they were happier. Half of those surveyed said they were now more confident.

Of the parents surveyed some had been sending their children to The Winch for as little as two months and others as long as ten years. Indeed some parents had been involved with The Winch as young people themselves years ago. Parents were generally pleased by the care given to their children and also appreciated our focus on building up character strengths and focussing on individual needs. 90% of parents said The Winch had helped their child be more resilient and all parents said their child was more confident and empowered. One Mum said “The Winch has taken away any concern we had about our after-school child care, providing a safe environment, lots of fun and great values from a fantastic team.”

When asked how The Winch has helped them, many parents said that The Winch has allowed them to better manage work and child-care in addition to providing their children with a safe environment to learn, engage, and have fun. The Winch goes further than most in supporting parents in all aspects of their lives so it was rewarding to see that all respondents said that we were either good or excellent at providing consistent, long term support. When asked to describe what The Winch meant to them in their own words, one parent responded “Everything – my support network – my child care - a safe place-my community place.” Indeed 44% of parents said they would approach The Winch for general support (compared to only 15% saying they would go to other services e.g. charities, CAB). 61% said they came to The Winch for a sense of community compared to 54% saying they would go to family and friends for community. As another parent described it “The Winch is a part of our family life, it’s an extension of our family without it we would all be lost.”

When asked to rate the Winch out of 10 (with 1 being low and 10 being high,) 50 percent of parents gave a 10 out of 10 rating and all gave a rating of 6 and above, with the average rating being 8.9. The impact of our holistic approach was captured by one parent’s comment “When we first came to The Winch, I was an isolated single parent, single child family on benefits. Now I am employed and we enjoy being part of a larger community and circle of friends.”

summer_give-1Our mission is to help each child succeed, regardless of their circumstances, by giving them the opportunities and support they need to thrive. In order to do this, we depend on the generosity of individuals and organisations to support and sustain our work.   Personal donations made this week (by 5pm on June 5th), will be matched by the Childhood Trust if made on The Winch’s section of the Big Give ‘s website.

The Childhood Trust Summer Give is a new match funding initiative run in partnership with the Big Give, which aims to fund project supporting London children during school holidays. We have already raised £10,000 in pledges from supporters. Our goal is to raise an additional £20,000 during this week’s online giving phase. This, in addition to the pledges from supporters and the contribution from the Childhood Trust, will combine to equal our total target of £40,000. This funding will be used to fund our summer play scheme. Up to 60 local children attend every day, and over 100 different children participate throughout the course of the summer. Children who attend the play scheme participate in a range of different activities including sport, arts and crafts, and day trips. The funding will be used to pay for trips, staff and additional activities that would not be possible without funding. It also allows us to provide targeted one-to-one support to those who need It over the Summer. Please visit here to find out more and donate.


P1270153The Winch’s own ‘Cradles to Crawling’ Project won the Team Up Award for Best Overall Project for 2014-2015. Team Up is a volunteering program dedicated to promoting and improving the health, fitness and wellbeing of Londoners as part of the Olympic legacy.

Developed in February 2015 with the help and support of volunteers from Team Up, Cradles to Crawling is a project designed to work with isolated first-time parents, (primarily mothers), with the intention of supporting them in giving their babies the best possible start. After the first 12 weeks we have connected with 10-12 local mums and the group is growing, mainly through word of mouth. The women come from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances. It includes young parents and parents living in homeless hostels.

We have created a warm, welcoming, safe environment in which the mums have the opportunity to feel part of a community, share experiences and form friendships. The parents can talk about whatever is on their mind, everything from sleep and weaning to issues with partners.

One mother who attends the sessions said that she “love[s] attending Cradles to Crawling” and that when she is there “time flies.” She particularly enjoys group discussions about topics that she experienced with her older son. These enable her to share her knowledge with new mums, improving her confidence in the group. Moreover, in a survey issued by coordinators of the program, respondents rated Cradles to Crawling as being more helpful in providing support and advice than either Children’s Centres or other mum and baby groups. All respondents also felt that Cradles to Crawling had improved their confidence in looking after their baby.

We are excited about the project’s success so far and are looking forward to helping it continue its positive impact on parents and children in the North Camden Community. If you would like to join or know someone who may benefit, please come along - the group meets every Wednesday morning from 10:30-12:30. Email for more information

photoCohort 4 of The Company began in April of this year. This is our 4th group of young people taking part in the programme.

The Company is our self-employment programme for young people aged 18-25 in the London borough of Camden. Young people approach us with a business idea, and we provide a 12 week incubator course to support them in focusing their idea into a coherent and structured plan, and this runs from Tuesday – Thursday 11am until 4pm. We provide business workshops / office space / business mentoring / seed investment (at the end of the 12 weeks) / access to specialist subject experts & emotional and personal development support. At the end of the 12 weeks after securing investment, we continue with our support package for up to 3 years.

Cohort 4 has a range of different business ideas. We have a freelance boxing academy / corporate & team building workshops / a self-published book & freelance photography. Currently, the group is getting ready to approach the panel in the next couple of weeks, to apply for their seed investment to get started. They have worked hard over the last couple of months to understand and focus their ideas into structured and formulated business ideas.

Our programme works with some of the hardest to reach young people in the borough. As well as a self-employment programme, we are also supporting these young people to overcome obstacles that they may face in their personal lives. We provide ongoing emotional support in the form of Promise Work which means that young people are allocated a Promise Worker, who works through any presenting issues the young people may be facing in their personal lives.

We also aim to aid in their social and personal development, and help them to form positive peer relationships with one another. We go on a residential at the beginning of each Cohort with an organisation called Tall Ships. This residential takes place on a boat for 4 nights, and the voyage this year went in April. The trip encourages team building skills, where the group have to work together to sail the boat each day (with it being overseen by 3 skippers). This year the group performed extremely well, forming close relationships with one another and were each awarded a certificate for their skills in working together. One of the young people who took part said it was “one of the best things that I have ever done”.

Reece OkezieReece Okezie is a full time youth worker at The Winch who has been working with young people aged 11-25 for the past four years.

Reece decided to become a youth worker because he himself benefitted from youth clubs and had experienced first-hand the positive impact of youth work. In fact, Reece was first introduced to The Winch through Paul Perkins, our CEO, who was Reece’s youth worker when Reece attended St. Mary’s Youth Centre.

Reece is a Winch Promise Worker and primarily works with young people one-to-one in addition to leading a group of 6 youths. As a Promise Worker, Reece adopts threefold approach: face-to-face support, partnership work, and impact measurement. Promise Workers work in a bespoke way alongside children to develop character strengths and wellbeing, while maximising their impact by connecting wider support services. Reece also mentors in local secondary schools on Mondays, leads football at The Winch’s After School Club, and is a key member of our outreach team. The outreach team goes to wherever young people hang out especially in evenings and weekends to tell them about our services and other useful organisations.

Reece’s favourite part about working at the Winch is that he is working within his own community (he lives 2 minutes away from The Winch) and he loves seeing how The Winch brings together people of different ages and backgrounds who otherwise wouldn’t know each other. In addition to working full time at The Winch, Reece is also earning a degree in Youth and Community Work at the YMCA George Williams College. When asked to give advice to anyone interested in becoming a youth worker, without missing a beat and with a smile on his face Reece answered, “Do it!” On that note, take a look at some fun facts below and get to know Reece a bit more:

Nickname: R.O.

Favourite colour: Gold

Favourite artist: Michael Jackson

Favourite meal: Anything Nando's

Favourite film: The Avengers

Favourite actor: Denzel Washington

Favourite London neighbourhood: Swiss Cottage

Favourite place visited: Orlando, Florida

Pet peeves: Pets

Dream job: Part-time Youth Worker/ Part-time Avenger

Dream home: New York City


We have a number of different rooms available for hire, including general meeting rooms, rehearsal space, dance hall and party space.  Previous users include the Central School of Speech & Drama, refugee and BME groups, religious and local authority initiatives, voluntary, educational, dance and martial arts clubs, community agencies and dramatic associations. Contact us on or 020 7586 8731 for further information on booking and rates.

PaulFirst and foremost, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed and came along to the launch of 'Whatever It Takes', a report commissioned by The Winch with support from Camden Council to explore the capacity for partnership working as part of a children's zone approach in North Camden.

I realise we've made something of a song and dance about this report. I'm also mindful that partnership working-including in its most powerful and transformational form-has been about for far longer than we have. I've been reminded that we're not the first organisation to articulate a vision for partnership working, nor for tackling child poverty. These are important points.

The reason that we believe this report adds something valuable to this agenda and that The Promise Partnership is an exciting development is quite simple. We believe that a children's zone that is community-led, developed alongside local families and young people and in partnership with the local authority and other partners, hasn't been done before in this way. The evidence from piloting this approach since December 2011 and more intensively since November 2012, with the appointment of our first Promise Workers, gives us great cause for optimism. However, we share it in order that it stimulates debate and catalyses action: it is simply another step.

There is a great deal of excellent policy thinking, research and conceptualising around children's zones: we want to learn from that, reflect on it and road-test different approaches on the ground, in the real world. This report is born of those real-world experiences, whether from the perspective of a teenager, a mother, a GP or any number of others. I hope you'll enjoy it.

A few words introducing 'Whatever It Takes' at our event on Monday 21st October:

"The launch of The Promise Academy at The Winch was driven by a very simple question. Can we do more? Are there approaches or organisations or systems that are doing better to beat poverty and its effects? We’d had a couple of heartbreaks-as I’m sure many of you have-and we were searching for answers. We struggled and searched and asked lots of questions. So we made a promise to children in our community to support them from cradle to career, and do whatever we could to enable them to flourish. That’s the promise that has led us to this point and the production of 'Whatever It Takes'.

In developing our children’s zone approach, we started with where the families we work with currently live: primarily in Kilburn, Swiss Cottage, Belsize and snippets of other wards. We formalised more of our partnership working in particular with schools and our experience and observation so far suggests there is good reason to look at broadening the approach.

Working on the ground, we started to better understand two key things. The first was the centrality of the relationships we held. With children and young people, of course. But also our relationships with parents and grandparents, with cousins and friends. Not only that, but we held relationships with doctors. And social workers. And teachers. We were even friends with some lawyers.

Indeed, we’ve been particularly struck by an ongoing conversation facilitated by the Social Research Unit and the Lankelly Chase Foundation focusing on young people experiencing multiple or severe disadvantage. What creates those ‘therapeutic relationships’ or ‘working alliances’ that make a difference? How do we capture, understand and foster them? Perhaps relationships are in fact platforms we invest in to co-produce outcomes with young people, rather than an often glossed-over part of the process?

The second thing we realised was that, in the simplest form, it takes a village to raise a child. This is the core assumption of a children’s zone: that we need to think about the context and culture in which a child is growing up. How does she relate to her neighbours? How does he relate to the local shops? How does she observe the environment and members of the public?

It is best articulated in Save the Children’s summer report on children’s zones, citing the work of Bronfenbrenner on ‘ecological systems theory’. In short, how does a child interact not with one service or system, but a series of complex and interrelated systems which shape opportunities and outcomes? How do these systems interact to threaten or protect children? And how can we intervene meaningfully in them?

The question we have asked-of ourselves, of families and young people, of partners-is how do we bring together these themes of on the one hand the relationships we hold, and on the other the systems which engage with the ecology around the child? What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? And how should we go about moving forward? There is no shortage of committees, strategies and taskforces focused on tackling this issue: what might make this different?

The work we've been doing at The Winch: piloting the Promise Worker role since last year, developing thinking around research and technology, building broader impact measurement processes and now the publication of 'Whatever It Takes', adds to a growing body of evidence-based praxis which we hope you will join us in developing, critiquing, improving and ultimately making meaningful for children and young people in our community."

The report above includes both our summary reflections on 'Whatever It Takes' as well as the report itself. You can download a copy here. If you don't want the combined document, you can download the summary reflections here or the 'Whatever It Takes' report here. To get involved in The Promise Partnership, start off by answering a few questions.

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