My Experiences of The Winch: A Place for Parents

As part of a series of firsthand accounts of the Winch and our work within the community one of our mums speaks about her experience of first coming to The Winch and the services on offer.

"My first contact with The Winch was one of the 'Connecting Parents' sessions that was nearly a year and a half ago.

At the time I was in emergency accommodation. The coordinator of Homestart got in contact with Page (at) The Winch who introduced me to a session at Belsize Community Library. We did a mood board about our expectations for the future. Meeting Page for the first time I was like wow, she’s got such a warm smile and a lovely attitude and I was instantly captured by her kindness. I was a little intimidated because I didn’t know anybody else but Page encouraged me to keep coming.

Page told me about a Wednesday session called ‘Being a Parent’ at The Winch done in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre. At the beginning I wasn’t sure whether to attend or not, I was a bit intimidated because my experience was really bad and I didn’t really trust anybody. I was really reluctant to join these kinds of activities because I didn’t want to start whining and make everything even more kind of sad but I completely changed my views around this. The group was really powerful because it let me share my own experience and I developed from someone taking from this group to wanting to give something back because I saw the effect that a conversation over coffee with supportive people can have for someone in a bad place and I wanted to give that to someone who needs that experience like I did.

Through the group we also realised we were all scattered around Swiss Cottage and now we had a way of coming together in a protected safe environment where we could share what was going on. It also meant outside of sessions we had a group of friends we could rely on in our local area.

Through ‘Being a Parent’ I also learnt a lot. In terms of parenting skills we shared a lot of knowledge, a lot of personal direct experience that I have to put in practice myself because that cause was very much practical rather than theoretical, so they taught as many skills, how to cope from the stress management, to the tantrums, to potty training.

Engaging with Page and The Winch has been great for my son because he’s still very little, he just turned three so whatever I feel he feels, he’s still very much a sponge but when I saw him playing with the other children, I finally saw that he’d started building his own identity, started feeling connected as well not just with mum but with other children, definitely I saw him more present to himself let’s say.

I hope that my son will continue to attend The Winch during Primary School and even though our being a parent group has finished we all continue to meet outside of The Winch and support one another. The Winch as a parent gave me the chance to meet with other parents when I was feeling isolated, which gave me a way of coping with the past."

Click on the link here to learn more about our groups and programmes for parents and how to get involved.


My Experiences of the Winch: Something Positive for Young People to Do

As part of a series of firsthand accounts of the Winch and our work within the community one of our young people speaks about his experience of first coming to The Winch and the work he now does supporting his local community.

"I first encountered the Winch when I was about, I’d say about 12, 11? I used to come to like, all the football sessions and stuff, when we had the old football pitch, all the tournaments and stuff. The Winch was always the best back in the day, cause we had that massive adventure park, the massive football pitch both of which are now a lot smaller unfortunately. There was the music studio as well where like 30 plus kids used to come, drop bars and which kids are still using today.

And then later down the line Paul (former CEO of The Winch) became our youth worker at St. Mary’s. When he moved to the Winch, me and a friend of mine moved to The Winch as well to see what it was all about. My friend started his gap year to become a Youth Worker and I joined The Company (a scheme teaching young people to become entrepreneurs). I enjoyed that a lot, and then started up my business which was like a football coaching thing, like a little soccer school, and then from there, got on to do the gap year scheme with St. Marys and been working with The Winch in the area ever since.

The Company was great in terms of the help and support because it was like four days a week and we had mentors as well as Winch Staff. I think The Winch helped me in terms of my public speaking before the gap scheme I’d never ever done public speaking I just hated it and then went on residentials, done practices, met with coaches and it started to build my confidence. I still coach or lead football sessions regularly and I have got my basic coaching qualifications.

Because when I was growing up I had youth workers and just him being in the community and being around. People got to know him and they start building trust with him and stuff like that. So from there you build relationship with everyone like different areas, even rival areas people are like “aw yeah that’s Jason” or “aw yeah that’s Emile”, “that’s Reece” and if you have a good reputation with the young people they start to trust you more and then they can talk to you, confide in you, and then tell you things they said they’d never tell like a different youth worker or a teacher.

For example I now work with The Winch in mentoring a group of local boys and we’ve built a relationship with them over a long time, so they feel they can trust us and like being around us, and then with the football stuff it gives them something to do which is crucial. I remember there was another group of young boys we used to chill with like when we was younger and they stopped coming to football and because of that they got involved in like gang activities and ended up in prison. So sometimes just being engaged and having something to do is enough and it shows the importance of what The Winch does."


You can find out more about The Company and the businesses our young people have set up here.


The Big Give Summer Challenge Starts Today!

We have teamed up with the Childhood Trust for the Big Give Summer Challenge 2018 to help fund our team of sessional play workers for our holiday playschemes. As the UK’s biggest match funding event the Big Give is an exciting opportunity for us to make the most out of the support we receive – donations during Big Give week will be doubled by the Childhood Trust - so can have twice the impact!

Our playschemes offer a variety of enriching and thoughtful activities to children and young people aged four to twelve in the local community. This year over 60 children will attend our summer playscheme where they will be able to explore, play, be creative and learn in a safe and nurturing space.

We have made our playschemes accessible and affordable to parents to ensure that those most in need are able to access our support and offer free places where needed. This means that every parent can be reassured that they have access to a safe and stimulating environment during the school holidays. Many of the children that come to our playschemes are from single parent working families, suffer from food insecurity or have no one around to care for them when school is closed.

Our playschemes offer a range of play and educational activities that support childrens wellbeing and development. For example children attending playschemes can join in on cooking sessions where they learn how to make healthy and nutritious recipes; art sessions where they learn expressive skills; physical activities and sports are also a large part of the day. On top of the activities we provide we offer trips, clubs,  healthy meals and snacks, advice and guidance to parents and practical support in order to give the best start that we can to the children and young people who come to us.

Important Questions

When: The Big Give Summer Challenge starts today: Monday 11th June 2018 and finishes this Friday 15th June.

Where: Please click on this link to be redirected to our Big Give Summer Challenge Giving page

Why: The Winch needs to raise £15,000 through the Big Give this summer to help fund our amazing playscheme staff

How: Match funding means that every donation that we receive before we hit our target will be matched by our partners the Childhood Trust: so when you donate £20, they donate £20 and we receive the £40 total!

Help children and young people in your local community this summer. Give through the Big Give and help us save our Summer by sponsoring a playworker! #sponsoroursummer



The Winch is pleased to announce that we will be working with Thornton's Budgens Community Supermarket in Belsize Park to raise money for our Belsize Community Library.

Our library provides an important service to the local community, where people of all ages and backgrounds can access the facilities, information and support. We hold events and clubs that bring together families and children from the local community. With your support this fantastic work can continue.

Shoppers at the store can opt to have 1% of the value of their shop to go to Belsize Communtiy Library and the fantastic work that they do! Please note that it is only at Thornton's Budgens Belsize Park that this scheme is valid.

Friends and supporters can pop into Thornton's Budgens, Belsize Community Library or The Winchester Project Swiss Cottage to pick up their own keyfob donation card.

Please support this fantastic opportunity to give back to your community while you shop!


On Saturday 12th May The Winch will be hosting a Five-a-Side Football Fundraiser, combining our love of the great game with our love of introducing new people to the work that we do for children and young people in Camden (and bringing out our competitive side to boot!). There is still space for a team or two so get in touch if you and some pals would like to join us. Teams must be between 5-7 people and players must be aged 16 or over. Have a look at the poster below for further details or get in touch with for any further questions or to sign up your team!

We are also looking for some volunteers for the event- if you're a budding photographer, keen communicator or a robust referee we would love to hear from you.



On March 19th, the North Camden Zone brought residents and professionals together for the England’s Lane Hack. They came up with brilliant ideas for changes to improve the residents’ lives. The Hack showed how important it is for people with lived experience to be part of ideas for change.

Read the full blog on the event on the North Camden Zone website