#whampforgood

I’m really excited to tell you about a new #whampventure that I hope lots of you are going to get involved with.

Last night @SarahReardon and I met Paul Perkins, who is the director of The Winchester Project (aka The Winch). The Winch is a charity that focuses on kids and young people. It is based in Swiss Cottage (on Winchester Road, thus the name), but works with young people from all over this part of NW London and beyond.

You can read much more about how it helps people on its website, but very broadly it has three streams: “Play” for kids aged 4–12, “Youth” for 12–25 year-olds, and “Sport”, which cuts across all age groups. The Youth stream is about engaging with young people and helping their development in all manner of ways through workshops, training and general support.

The Winch is not a new charity – it’s been going for more than 30 years. But that doesn’t mean that it has everything figured out. Like all charities it relies on support from the wider community, both in terms of money and time.

That’s where we come in. I hope! I’d like to make The Winch our WHampstead charity for 2010.

I am absolutely NOT about to ask you all to dip into your wallets. Although of course any donations would be more than welcome. What I am asking for is your time. Yes, that’s a bigger commitment than money, but also a far more rewarding one and it’s up to you how big or small you want that commitment to be – whatever it is you can guarantee it will be warmly appreciated.

There are two big areas in which people can get involved. One is volunteering to work directly with young people. The other – and I can’t stress enough that this is at least as important – is volunteering to help on the administrative side. This covers everything from PR to fundraising to design to planning to… well, the list really does go on and on.

Maybe you have a talent for negotiating sponsorship deals from blue-chip corporates; maybe your company would like to offer a young person a supported work placement; maybe you’re really interested in Health & Safety issues (someone must be?!); maybe you’re a fantastic events organiser. These are the sorts of skills they need. Or maybe you want to get involved on the sports side – The Winch is especially keen on promoting sports for girls at the moment, so maybe you’d be interested in supporting that.

Between us I reckon we must have an enormous range of personal and professional skills that we can bring to the table. So let’s do it. Let’s show that the buzz of having a community extends just a tad further than drinks at the Alice House and grumbling about the Jubilee Line.

What next? Well, I guess have a think. Have a think about what you might be interested in doing, what contacts you have that might be useful, what sort of time commitment appeals to you (if it’s volunteering for half a day at a one-off event that’s fantastic. If it’s seeking to join a working group on fundraising that’s fantastic too). Oh, and follow @the_winch. In January, it’s holding an open day. Come along to that; meet some of the other volunteers. Most importantly meet some of the young people. Between now and then drop me any ideas you have (DM me to get my e-mail if you don’t have it already). Or of course contact The Winch directly – you don’t have to go through me, I’m simply trying to get the ball rolling and am happy to help coordinate some of this to the extent that that is helpful. In the meantime Sarah and I will be finding out a bit more about the precise, pragmatic ways in which the whampcommunity may be able to help. So there’ll be more information to follow.

I hope that’s covered the basics. A few FAQs:
I really don’t think I have anything to offer, but I’d like to get involved?
Great. You may well have more to offer than you think, but at the very minimum being prepared to help out at events would be great. Have a think about your work skills and your personal interests and how those might be relevant in running an organisation or in motivating and inspiring someone.

The whole charity thing isn’t my scene. Are you going to be banging on about this for ever now and will I be ostracised for not being interested?
Hell no. The whole #whamp thing is supposed to be fun – a way to meet people locally and be sociable (and eat and drink). I know not everyone is interested, and that’s absolutely fine. Nor will I be constantly going on about it. From time to time I’ll promote events or maybe ask for more specific help but there’s no way I expect everyone, or even a majority of people to end up getting involved. All other whampness will continue as normal!

Is it ok just to make a large anonymous donation but not spend any time on this?
You bet. Go to the website, or just send ’em a cheque.

What about a small donation?
See above. Everything is extremely welcome.

What happens in 2011? Are we just going to walk away?
Obviously not. For the moment I’m thinking the idea of a charity to support for a full year is a good concrete one. It’s very likely that at the end of the year we just continue the relationship and anyway volunteers can do whatever they want to do! We may add another charity for 2011 if any of us are still doing the whole Twitter thing. But I’d like to think that some of us will be so involved with The Winch by then that it won’t even be a question.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. All thoughts, feedback, comments welcome.

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