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SusanSusan Olivacce is a full time Promise Worker and Deputy Play Officer at The Winch, working with children aged 4-12.

As a Promise Worker, Susan provides one-to-one support to eight children. Moreover, she acts as a child advocate while working with partnership services such as schools and social services in addition to connecting children and their families with wider support networks. Ultimately, Susan and all of The Winch’s Promise workers help children and young people to develop character strengths, ensure wellbeing and maximize impact. Working with a younger age group, Susan feels it is important to develop trust and positive relationships with the parents of the children as well.

As a Deputy Play Officer, Susan works with Kim Mabbut, the Play Development Officer, to run After School Club as well as the holiday and half term play schemes. After School Club picks up children from three different schools, George Eliot, Holy Trinity, and Swiss Cottage Primary (drop ins from other schools are welcome to attend as well) and offers games, arts and crafts, sports and other opportunities for children to learn through play from 3:30 to 5:45 pm. The holiday play schemes offer additional educational and fun activities during the school holidays such as as day trips and projects from 9:15am to 5:45pm. As reliable childcare systems, both After School Club and the holiday play schemes allow parents to work full-time while ensuring that their children are engaged in a positive, fun way. While working as a play officer, Susan particularly enjoys seeing and participating in the children’s role-play. Impressed by the children’s imaginations, Susan elaborated, “There are no limits, children are superheroes and a doll house can become a fantasy island or a castle.”

Before joining The Winch team in March of 2014, Susan worked in nurseries and children’s centres.  Being the youngest of seven children (and becoming an aunt at the age of 6,) Susan has always been passionate about connecting with children and knew from a young age that she wanted to work with children as a part of her career. In fact, her work experience while she was a young person was at a school.

As a Promise Worker and Deputy Play Officer, Susan feels that the most important qualities to have are patience, compassion and the ability to truly listen.  In the future, Susan hopes to see The Winch expand its impact by reaching out to accommodate more people and continuing to provide top-notch support.

Get to know Susan a bit more and take a look at some of her favourites and fun facts below:

Favourite colour:  Black

Favourite artist: Jill Scott

Favourite food: Anything apart from bananas

Greatest Fears: Polystyrene and worms

Favourite place visited: The Caribbean

Favourite film: The Emperor’s New Groove

Favourite actor: Morgan Freeman

Pet peeve: Bad manners

Favourite T.V. show: Daredevil

Nicknames: Sues, Susie, Susie Q

CaptureThe Winch has had some fundraising success in the last couple of months. In July we got the good news that we have been awarded funding from BBC Children in Need for the next 3 years to help us to continue running our after-school club and holiday play schemes, which are attended by up to 60 children every day. We were also awarded £28,000 from Natwest's Skills and Opportunities Fund for The Company, our business development programme for 18 - 25 year olds.  Furthermore Marks and Spencers created a new kitchen for the Winch on their Spark Something Good Day on July 29. A team of volunteers stripped out our old kitchen and installed a new one – all within 24 hours.

On 21 August, Bank of America Merrill Lynch created a fantastic party to mark the end of the Summer Holiday Play Scheme.  Not only did they provide the food for the party but also a team of volunteers who prepared, cooked and served the food for the children and their families.  They also face painted the children and organised games for them.

From 1st - 5th June we took part in the Childhood Trust's Summer Give and raised over £20,000! The money was used to plan exciting trips and activities for the children attending our holiday playscheme, as well as running additional activities for young people. Thank you to everyone who took part in the Summer Give by making a pledge or donating during the online phase.

Family Fun Day Poster 120915

iphone uploads 1739 (2)Whether through group or outreach sessions, school visits, or The Company, our goal is to engage young people in the North Camden community and provide them with continuous support. Survey responses from 67 young people (ages 11-25) confirmed the dedication of our team, the varied interests that The Winch caters to and the overall importance of The Winch in the lives of young people.

“Helpful, fun, family” is how one young person described The Winch.  Another described the support as “sensational and inspiring, ” while another cited his/her trust in our staff as making The Winch “a second home.“ When asked to rate The Winch out of 10 (with 1 being low and 10 being high,) the young people gave an average rating of 9. Moreover, 50 percent of young people said that they would look to The Winch for advice, information and guidance as opposed to the 22 percent that would look to school and the 2 percent that would look to council.

According to our survey, the most popular session for our 11-18 year olds are group sessions (e.g. cooking, music, football etc), followed by school based sessions (e.g. self-directed learning, female empowerment group etc.). One young person, for example, referred to The Winch as a “young people space” where “everyone can go and feel comfortable.”

The overwhelming majority of young people credited The Winch for helping them to build confidence and self-esteem, with a young person saying The Winch “developed (his/her) character.” Moreover, The Winch aims to engage young people in political dialogue to educate them about their rights, and in the words of a young person instill in them “how [they] as young people can change the world.” Perhaps most poignantly, nearly 40 percent of young people reported that without The Winch, they would have nowhere else to go.

We were pleased that feedback from our young people mirrored the feedback from the parents and children and that parents, young people and children alike value The Winch’s role in the North Camden community.

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