Blog Archives

img_4782On August 19th, we marked the end of our Summer Holiday Play Scheme with a family barbecue at the Winch for the children and young people who participated in the program and their families. We had a beautiful day filled with lots of sunshine, food, dancing, playing and fun! We couldn’t have made this awesome event happen without the help of the John Lyon’s Charity and some wonderful volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch who have sponsored the event for two years running. We are incredibly grateful for the generous support that helped us say goodbye to summer and kick off the school year in style!


In December of 2015, The Winch commissioned an independent report to learn exactly what impacts and benefits we have on our community. The evaluation consisted of surveying children and young people who access our services, their parents, our volunteers and the professionals who we partner with.

Impact report

Based on this report, The Winch has had widely successful impacts in the Camden community. All of the people asked had positive feedback on their experiences, with nearly all saying that we have positively impacted their lives. The report also found that without The Winch people felt they would struggle much more, with many saying that if The Winch closed they would have nowhere else to go.

The report described Camden’s population as hugely diverse with 36% of children living below the poverty line, so there is a high demand for an organization to provide a safe environment with secure, trusting relationships. The Winch works to fill this demand by focusing on three areas to support young people: providing information, guidance, and support. By providing this support, we improve mental health and wellbeing and enable young people to achieve educational success. This is all done by working with our children and young people from an early age, building strong, trusting relationships, maintaining long-term support, and providing a safe, secure environment.

The report praised our ‘Promise Work’, which is our approach to supporting children and young people who face numerous and intricate needs. The young people asked for this report all stated that having a Promise Worker changed their lives for the better and increased their ability to deal with difficult situations in their lives. They also  mentioned that it has helped them form calmer, more sustainable social relationships.

The Winch has a large number of volunteers, most of which volunteer at least once a week. All volunteers surveyed felt that their work was meaningful and made them feel more a part of the community.

One of the reasons we commissioned the report was to find out different ways that we could improve our work. Some of the main suggestions were to repair the building internally and externally, expand where the charity reaches in the community and for the staff to receive ongoing training in issues affecting children and young people.

Other recommendations include applying to the Big Lottery Fund for more funding and exploring how to develop other areas in the Winch in order to meet more need. The Winch is in the works of preparing plans for these changes.


Jo McMillan is the Office and Buildings Coordinator here at The Winch. She works with every person in the building and ensures that everything runs smoothly.

Jo came to The Winch two yearJos ago and has been the mother hen since. She is responsible for building safety, which means insurance, fire safety, cleanliness, risk assessments, and fixing the broken things. Jo also manages the reception desk, keeps track of the interns, and hires out the rooms.  Between dashing around from place to place getting everything done, she works out possible ways for the building to run better and tackles any surprises that may come her way.

About five years ago Jo began youth work at her local church and fell in love with the role. However she also has lots of experience working in administration and management and so wanted a job that truly combined both. After watching a video on The Winch’s website that showed how this charity impacted the lives of the people in the community, she wanted to become involved. One of the things Jo enjoys most about The Winch and this area is the great sense of community that is felt with its members. Parents and children of all types are brought together to form lasting, sustainable relationships. Relationships form between members of The Winch in addition to relationships between staff and members. Also, there is a strong sense of family between the staff, which Jo loves. She says this is the first place she has worked where she truly loves each member of staff and feels a part of a family.

Despite immensely enjoying her job, there are some difficulties that come along with it. One of which is that since The Winch is such a small charity there is not always a set budget. Also it is challenging filling in the reception timetable with the number of interns and volunteers coming through The Winch. Jo is always in such a high demand that she is constantly running back and forth all over the building trying to be in two places at once. Apart from fulfilling the buildings wish list, Jo also hopes for more funding to offer better service, reach more people in the area, and to have better spaces.


Being Jo, though, she doesn’t just wait for more funding to be available, but also fundraises for The Winch in her spare time. On Sunday 25th September she'll be running the Ealing Half Marathon to raise money for The Winch. If you'd like to sponsor her, go to to find out more.


Here are some more fun facts on our Jo!

Favourite color: Pink

Favourite food: Chicken

Greatest fear: Falling/ Heights

Favourite place visited: Las Vegas

Favourite film: The Notebook

Favourite actor: Ryan Gosling

Pet peeve: Winch Family leaving dirty dishes in the sink

Favourite TV show: Eastenders

Favourite hobby: Going to the gym or live music events

Cause for the most laughter: Internet memes

One unknown fact: She’s met Beyonce


The Big Lottery Fund is supporting the Winch for the next four years to make a long-term impact on 10-19 year olds in North Camden.  The Big Lottery grant will enable The Winch to provide a careful mix of activities and opportunities for young people to improve their achievements at school and employment prospects.  These activities include:

  • Transition groups for 10 to 12 year olds ensuring vulnerable pupils keep up in their move from primary to secondary school.
  • Group and mentoring sessions for 11 to 16 year olds focussing on empowerment, relationships, rights and self-esteem.
  • Open access activity sessions including; drama, fashion, music, textiles and sports.
  • A youth leadership offering to increase citizenship and volunteering activities
  • Trips and residentials for 11 to 19 year olds to widen horizons and expand experiences.
  • Enterprise and employment programmes for 16+ year olds
  • Intensive one to one support for those at risk of mental health issues, sexual exploitation or anti-social behaviour.
  • An emergency phone line to provide assistance on homelessness, immigration and benefits.
  • Parent support groups and courses to aid parents and carers to parent their children.

The above activities are to have a strong partnership focus through information-sharing, referrals and joint work with local schools (including George Eliot, Holy Trinity, Haverstock, Quinton Kynaston and UCL Academy) and other organsiations.

Recruitment for the next cohort of The Company is currently OPEN.  Our enterprise initiative provides group and 1:1 support to young people who have a business idea and need guidance in areas of both personal development and self-employment.  The program runs from Tuesday until Thursday 11am until 4pm for 10-12 weeks, starting Tuesday September 27th. There are limited places available, so if you are an 18-25 year old with a business idea, and want to join a collective that will inspire you, then please get in touch!


During the program you will attend business and personal development workshops with the rest of the group (usually between 8 and 10 people) and will gain confidence and build positive peer networks.  The program includes two residential trips, as well as a number of other educational and practical visits. At the end of the program, there is an opportunity to pitch your business to a panel for up to £2000 in seed investment, with further opportunities to hot desk at The Company office-in The Winch building when their businesses are up and running.


We are also looking for business mentors who can share their life experiences with an ambitious young person. The role of a mentor is to provide advice and support, helping to point their mentee in the right direction. The Company is always looking for more volunteers who are keen to pass their wisdom on. We are currently recruiting mentors so if you’re interested in getting involved please contact Fran Taylor at or call her on 07539 576 203.

For the first time ever The Winch is holding a celebration for all the young people who have ever taken part in The Company, our enterprise programme for young people aged 18-25. We will be celebrating the most recent graduation of entrepreneurs, as well as welcoming back some older faces. There will be Caribbean food (catered by one of our very own Company businesses) as well as free drinks, speeches, certificates, displays featuring some of our businesses products & services (with the opportunity to buy) as well as networking. It will be a great community event. Young people, friends and family, partner organisations, funders, journalists and people from the local community will all be in attendance. The event will be held on Thursday August 4th from 7pm here at The Winch. If you would like to attend please respond to or call her on 07539 576 203.

Srabani Sen 1Srabani has an extensive background in non-profit work. She has been a board member for more than twenty years for a number of different organisations, as well as a CEO for a diverse mix of voluntary organisations.

Srabani has dedicated her career to transformational work.  She's worked to change media views on the debate about alcohol issues, to champion the issue of diabetes and worked with various family and children organizations.

Srabani was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2013 Birthday Honours in recognition of her work with to improve the lives children and families throughout in the UK.

We are beyond excited to be working with this gifted and successful woman here at The Winch!

Frankie Taylor is from North West London and is the programme coordinator for The Company

The Company is the self-employment programme powered by The Winch, helping ‘hard to reach’ 18-25 year olds to reach their full potential by learning skills for starting their own business, as well as receiving emotional support & furthering their personal & professional development.

Outside of The Winch, Frankie is a retro fitness & dance instructor and conducts freelance drop in classes, private & corporate sessions, and also performs at events & festivals.

Her interests include cooking, puppies, photography, yoga and dancing! She is enthused by 80s music, film & clothing, and Japan!

Life Motto: “Have fun forever”

We surveyed the generous people who volunteer with us and the results reveal: volunteers at the Winch felt that their work was meaningful, they feel closer to the community, and they want to keep coming back. Regardless of what activity volunteers were doing or who they were working with, each of the 20 volunteers we polled expressed their wishes to come back to the Winch. When asked why they initially volunteered at the Winch, volunteers said, “I liked the idea of a small charity that works with children,” and that, “It has a clear mission and obvious positive impact to the people it serves. Getting to see children come in each day, as well as see how passionate each member of the staff is in creating the best possible program for every child has been very meaningful.” These responses are reflective of the Winch’s value to improve the North Camden community for those growing up in it.

Volunteers varied in backgrounds and duties. Their ages ranged from 20 to retired, and their volunteering amount ranged from a single event to over ten years’ worth! About 65% of our volunteers come to the Winch once a week, but there is definitely no minimum time requirement. Volunteering activities included fundraising, event planning, working on reception, assisting with children or infant activities, and helping with catering or cleaning. The most popular activity was working with children. “Regardless of what I do each time I come to the Winch, I can see a direct effect I have on the youth there. Their presence around the building is a testament to the work that the Winch does,” said one volunteer. Over 75% of our volunteers had an increased awareness in the community as a result of volunteering. In addition to benefitting the community, volunteers also feel that their work has made them stronger as individuals. A majority of the respondents said that volunteering increased their communication, management, and personal skills.

Much of the success in our volunteering is due to our volunteer coordinator, Page Victor. “We love creating a welcoming environment for all our amazing volunteers because we know that we couldn’t do what we do without them. To put it simply, we love having them,” says Page. Our volunteers continue to come back because they have been inspired during their experience. “As a result of volunteering at The Winch, I have been inspired to do more community work and volunteer in other projects,” said a recent volunteer. Over 50% of our volunteers became more aware of other volunteering opportunities from being at the Winch. Our volunteers feel valued for their time at the Winch and are encouraged to continue volunteering more around the community afterwards. Our volunteers help us take further steps to achieve our goals, and for that we are grateful.

Lucy TelferLucy Telfer is a part-time Library Manager in charge of the Belsize Community Library. She works with kids of all ages, parents and Belsize residents.

The Winch took over the operation of the Library in 2012 and have offered various services ever since. As a library manager, Lucy is in charge of making sure all the day to day activities are run smoothly and efficiently during the opening hours of the Belsize community Library on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s from 10:00-6:00pm. Having joined The Winch a mere 10 month ago, she fell in love with her role and organization. She found the variety and number of services offered as well as the staff at The Winch to be incredible. She lived in the local community and had grownup hearing about The Winch because of its history so Lucy appreciated the opportunity to get better involved with the community by helping support families.

The Belsize Community library currently offers many services such as Rhyme time (in four different language), story time, parent support classes, author’s event and so much more. Choosing a favorite is difficult. She takes pleasure in watching different members of the community with different cultural background and socioeconomic statues enjoy the space and different activities provided. She believes that people often underestimate the benefits of the rhyme time session in terms of language, growth and development for the children under 5’s.

One part Lucy finds challenging about her position is having patience, patience in having to wait for funding in order to get an idea with a great potential off the ground. With the reduction in funding from the government, funds are becoming harder and harder to get. To combat this trend, Lucy and The Winch leadership team came up with a great idea- launching a Crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary funds needed to keep the library open and even potentially expand the service offering.  With the money raised, Lucy plans on looking more widely at the activities that the library can offer for different age groups such as space for language classes, knitting groups, tea and cake time and so many more activities. When asked what she would say to someone interested in donating for the campaign, she looked up nostalgically and replied, “I would tell them to think back to the time when they could knock on their neighbors’ door and ask for support for pretty much anything. Over the years, that community and spirit has changed. It is our responsibility to glue it back together and making the smallest changes in the community such as donating to keep the only free, public space in Belsize open will hopefully bring back the spirit.”

Want to learn more about this indomitable women named Lucy? Then please keep on reading to look at some fun facts and get to know her a little bit more

Nickname: Lucy Locket

Favourite Color: Green

Favourite Meal: Spanish omelet

Greatest Fear: Sea

Favourite Film: Dirty Dancing

Favourite Actor: Jack Nicholson

Pet Peeve: Sound of people eating

Favourite Hobby: Collecting music from all over the world

Cause for the most laughter: People dancing off beat.

Name one thing about yourself that people don’t know: First ever job at 14 years old was at a shooting range in Surrey