My Experiences of The Winch: Promise Work

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 our Promise Work.

"It was around March 2013 when I first engaged with The Winch.  When I first met my Promise Worker. I was with the job centre and it was very bad at the time. I was frustrated, couldn’t keep control of my emotions and felt depressed and I wasn’t enjoying the courses which the job centre provided. It was probably one of the worst years I’ve ever had in my life.

I started to meet with Promise Worker on a regular basis, I live locally so we met either for coffee somewhere or here at The Winch and it was a big help to have her around at the time. I was depressed at so many points and they told me about these character strengths and what not and you know how I could work on it and it did help after some time. You know we talked about how we can build on my character strengths and all that kind of stuff. We got to a point where we were really looking at my grit, self-control and what I can do to improve my weaknesses.

I feel much better than I did way back then and after time I got into doing other activities, like a table tennis tournament and playing outdoor tennis which helped make everything more fun and helped me to feel happy again. That’s not to say I didn’t have tough days, some days I’d turn up and I’d be completely angry about something and I couldn’t control my emotions but my Promise Worker was always there and would always listen. She helped with practical things too, like my passport application which I needed to find a job and motivating me to get my tennis coaching qualification.

I’m in a better place now and was confident enough to apply for store detective/security guard role which I’ve held for the past few months and passed my training with excellence. Though I don’t meet with them as regularly anymore, The Winch was very helpful at that time in my life and it’s a great place to go because people care and they’re honest."

Click here to learn more about our Promise Work.


My Experiences of The Winch: A Place for Families

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 three children have been attending the Winch since my youngest who is now in year 3, had started reception. I remember us all feeling anxious about the new place and new people. This was soon eradicated by the warm welcome we have received as well as the excellent work that has been observed, which has gained my full trust.

Over the years, the Winch has become more of a family and less of a childcare provider to us. This is because the Winch staff have been there for us in every aspect of our lives. As a lone parent with a history of domestic violence and mental health struggles, Winch has always provided great council and practical help. They have attended court with me to face my fear and to stand up for myself. They have attended school meetings with me when one of my children struggled at school due to bullying. As well as celebrate when I had graduated from university. Most importantly, they made me feel I was never alone and for someone like me, this means a great deal more than words can describe.

The children absolutely love the Winch just as much as I do. They get to be stimulated regularly with all the different activity clubs available, such as the Science club, football club, Art club, Reading club, Chess club, Drama club and many more activities available that they can pick and choose from.  As well as planned activities and outdoor play area that the children enjoy.

During half terms and school holidays, the Winch organises trips and activities that are age appropriate, fun and affordable.  This gives comfort to those of us consumed by parent guilt as we have to work, and the children feel to have had a productive and enjoyable break that they rave on about after pick up.

As well as building the children’s confidence and life skills, the parents are also provided with opportunities to bond with the Winch as family, as well as parent skills building, as the Winch provides family dinners that involves parents, children and staff, as well as monthly parent meetings with guest speakers that tackle topics that affect families.

The Winch has such great relationships with different local schools and organisations that offer children an opportunities that would not otherwise be accessible to them. For example, my daughter has been recommended for a tuition scheme offered by a local independent school, which my daughter absolutely loves and benefits from immensely.

Most important quality that puts my mind at complete ease is how the Winch shows children respect and unconditional care. Conflict resolution abilities of the Winch is one I myself have personally gained a great knowledge from, which I apply myself now personally and professionally.  They children feel safe, loved and happy. A parent could not ask for more.

I really could go on about the great qualities of the Winch and how much it means to us.  I just could not imagine where I would be today had I not received the support and care we as a family have received.  The Winch goes above and beyond of duty of care. It shapes young minds and supports struggling parents. The Winch makes a real difference and I hope it is allowed to continue to do that."

Click on the link here to learn more about our services for parents or here for afterschool club and playschemes.


My Experiences of the Winch: Growing my Aspirations

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 as a young person joining The Company programme.

"I joined the Company when I was 24 because I was trying to get work at the time, and I was with a Camden apprenticeships program and the Winch got in contact with them. The woman who was running the program at the time, Nina put me in touch with a (youth worker from The Winch) and it just went form there really.

I can hardly remember now, when I first met them but I explained I wanted to make music my living. They did a great job of convincing me to join The Company because normally I’d be reluctant with these sort of programmes when they sound like school, I didn’t want to be in that sort of a situation, because my school experience as a kid was bad, and I didn’t want to go back into a situation where I felt like I was in that environment again. They did a great job of explaining how The Company was different and encouraged me to pursue what I was passionate about, making music my living.

The Company taught me a lot I didn’t know but I also learned a lot about myself – it helped me to develop as a person. Like I did things I never knew I could do before, like sailing a boat around the English channel but then I also learned about audiences and how to target them, learned to be more strategic about where I sell music and where I perform. Now I’m almost 30 and And I definitely feel like I’m in a better place because of my experiences here at the Winch on the Company. My music career hasn’t taken off but I have a job which I enjoy at a law firm and five years ago, I couldn’t imagine that would have happened.

Things like The Winch need to exist. They help people, they help young people achieve what they want to achieve, like me. There’s a lot of young people out there who are unsure of what they want to do, or they might have an idea but they just don’t know how to go about it and things like this definitely put it into perspective. One big thing for me is I’m not a suit and tie guy, I don’t see myself being 35, and there’s nothing wrong with this, but I don’t ever see myself being 35 and in an office job stuck behind a desk and I feel like when I was younger, I was being pushed to that. I’ve been pushed to that, and there’s a lot of young people out there who maybe are a bit unsure, they might have an idea, they might want to try something out before they’re ready to settle into a career.

The Winch give you the path, like obviously you have to do it yourself, obviously, no one can hold your hand. The Winch give you that first step there and the opportunity  for me to try and make a career out what I love doing and pick up skills to support myself along the way."

To find out more about The Company and how you can become a Company Associate click the link here.


My Experiences of The Winch: An Alternative to Gangs

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 as a teenager and how it offered him an alternative to joining the gangs in the local area.

"I first came to The Winch from young, like three, I live here so I was always passing The Winch. I went a little bit when I was younger but first started properly going around like 14 or 15.  It was really a place to hang out, speak to staff, play football. I value that because it kept me occupied, it was always an option for me and my friends to go to. I remember like there was a Friday night group with all the young people that would all be around here, so there was me and like all my friends downstairs in the basement, so it kind of went from there.

I still meet with (my youth worker) now, we go to the gym now and he comes to watch my rugby games and I remember I’ve helped him out a few times because I did my work experience here so I helped him out with some youth work with like coaching football and then we done like outreach in our area where you go around the area but you’re speaking to young people. It felt good to be supported, like when I was injured as well, he gave me support, like building my confidence and stuff. My relationship with (my youth worker) has helped a lot because he’s done a lot for me like, keeping me active, playing football, like I was bad at football but he still kept me on the team and playing with all my friends and stuff so like yeah just making me feel a part of something.

With The Winch I feel like I’m always going to be here, I know when I get older I’m not always going to be popping in and out but I will just say the usual hello and stuff, like I done the work experience here and I might do it again but with me with my future I was thinking about going to uni  and I want to get onto a sports placement in like New Zealand and Australia, as like a student but also working but working on what you want to do with sport.

In the local area there was some arguments when I was growing up and trouble with the older generation. Youth workers (and) The Winch always did a lot to stop us from following their path because back in the day there were gangs and I knew people that were there in the gang like family members or friends and like we’d hang around with. The Winch (was) good at showing us there was an alternative to that life."

Click here to find out more about our services for young people aged 11 to 19.


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.