Green fingered women wanted

The West Hampstead Women’s Centre, which occupies the Old Kilburn Library on Cotleigh Road, is looking for volunteers to help with its community garden.

Daffodils? The WHWC’s garden is already sprouting!

Every Wednesday afternoon you can not only do a bit of planting, but then learn how to cook with what you grow. I think it sounds good – but sadly I don’t fit the demographic.

Anyway, for more information e-mail Sarah, go to Facebook, or see the poster below.

The Winch: A time for new dreams

Some more recent arrivals to West Hampstead Life may not be aware that I actively support local youth charity The Winchester Project. You can read a bit more about the genesis of that support here.

If you’d like to know more about the excellent work The Winch does, then I would urge you to go along on December 1st to hear about a “Time for New Dreams”. This would be an excellent opportunity to find out how you might be able to support the organization (whether financially, or by giving your time, expertise, or opportunities through your network), and to learn how it’s moving forward.

Hope that I’ll see lots of you there! Click the pic for a larger version and more details.

Contact the Elderly needs you

A guest blog by Charlotte, who needs your help:

My friend Kathleen recently turned 100.

“What’s your secret?” I asked as we tucked into tea and cake at a special party to celebrate her landmark birthday.

“I always eat wholemeal bread,” came the reply.

Kathleen is one of nine elderly people I really enjoy chatting to and spending time with on a monthly basis at our local Contact The Elderly tea parties.

Once a month myself and other volunteers pick up lonely elderly people in the North West London area who are unable to leave the house by themselves and take them to a tea party.

The parties take place at volunteer host’s houses between 3pm and 5pm – where guests are given tea, sandwiches and cakes and get the chance to chat. Our elderly friends really benefit from this social interaction and it clearly makes a massive difference to their lives.

It is also a lovely experience for the volunteers too, who not only get to enjoy tea and cake, but also all the amazing stories from years gone by.

Kathleen was born an only child in Dollis Hill in 1911 and worked for many years as a teacher in Willesden and Harrow. She has endless stories about travelling the world. In 1936 she made her first visit to Hamburg and then travelled on to Berlin where the Olympics were being held. Since then she has visited most of the European capitals, as well as the USA, Canada and Japan. It is a real privilege to spend time with her.

We rely on the goodwill of our drivers and also the hosts who throw open their homes to elderly guests for the tea parties but with nine elderly members now and not enough volunteers we are struggling.

We are now looking for new voluntary drivers to help pick guests up and also hosts willing to arrange a tea party perhaps once or twice a year.

Many of our guests are frail so any host home would need to have easy ground-floor access, a downstairs toilet available and a space large enough to seat around nine elderly guests comfortably. There will also be about five volunteers in attendance.

If you can help then please email or call 0208 208 2021

It’s business time at The Winch

Whatever the eventual outcome of the election, it is unlikely to remove the need for organisations like The Winchester Project – the charity that #whampers have been supporting in 2010. Back in late March, I posted director Paul Perkinsappeal for Admin & Support help. Now, Paul is back with a new request – this time for help under the banner of Business & Enterprise.

An abridged version of his e-mail appears below. If there’s any way you can help, do please contact him directly.

Dear Friend,

Our work at the Winch continues at full throttle. As well as seeing our Youth team grow and taking on new placement students and volunteers, we have recently run another successful Play Scheme over the Easter holidays, for which we had around 50 children. It’s busy work, but in the holidays the building really comes alive with activity, laughter and energy. It’s a great time to be around.

Following on from the Admin & Support drive, I’m delighted to say that we’ve had an opportunity to meet with many of you who are able to give your time and energies in the office and other areas.

Perhaps, though, that wasn’t for you and you’d be able to offer more through Business & Enterprise. There are a few starting-off suggestions in the attached PDF, but there are a couple of reasons we’re asking about this. One is that charities such as ours depend substantially on grants from statutory and private sources, and whilst we welcome this we’re keen to reduce our dependency on these streams, in part by developing our own social enterprise activities. That’s also about sustainability, and with the risk of cuts on their way from central and by extension local government, we want to develop as a more self-sufficient, sustainable voluntary sector organisation. Secondly, it’s not only social enterprise which you might be able to help with but pro bono and in kind services and expertise – whatever it is you do may well add value and have relevance to our initiatives here – services and skills which can be contributed on a pro bono or in kind basis.

If you’re not sure whether the skills you have, or an idea which has popped up, fits with this area, don’t hesitate to drop me a line to talk it over.

In the meantime, thank you once again for being part of what we’re doing at the Winch. The work, time, insight and energy which you give makes a real difference to the children and young people we serve and, ultimately, our wider community.


Paul Perkins
Winchester Project
21 Winchester Road
London NW3 3NR
Tel: 020 7586 8731

The Winch Needs You!

As many readers will know, the whamp community is supporting local charity The Winchester Project this year under the banner of #whampforgood.

Already, many of you have helped out in lots of different ways, whether by volunteering at the recent open evening, producing films (more of that later), or giving money at some of our events. As some big changes happen at The Winch, it’s time for another call to arms. Time to see whether you might be able to help. To that end, here’s a message from Paul, the director of The Winch:

Dear Friend,

Time whistles by, and unfortunately it’s been slightly longer than the week I promised for sending out a list of the different ways in which people can get involved at the Winch. We’ve managed to distil all the possibilities (or all those we could think of) into 8 areas and will be sending one out at the beginning of each week. Do have a look and see what appeals, and of course if not for you it may be that someone else you know has been looking for a certain opportunity, or has an idea, or what have you. I’m keen that M4th [the open evening] wasn’t simply a nice evening (although we enjoyed it immensely!) but that it’s a foundation we can build on. Thank you once again for being a part of it.

This week, we’re focusing on ‘Admin & Support’. This is the bread and butter of running any organisation which is crucial but pretty unglamorous. Ultimately, we need phones answered, photocopying done and wherever possible, resources contributed (or sponsored!). There are a good few suggestions for what shape this can take, but even simply having more people around – if only for a few hours a week – can free other staff or volunteers up to do other things. It’s a really easy point of contact and and can be ideal as experience on the CV.

In the meantime, here is a write-up of the evening done by the Ham & High, and you can read the article which featured our work in the Camden New Journal. On top of this, we’re excited to say that we’ve been contacted and are in talks with a couple of individuals who are interested in supporting our plans for the future of the building, potentially on quite a grand scale. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on this.

Thanks for being part of what we’re doing at the Winch.



If you are new to @Whampstead or the blog and have NO idea what any of this is about, then why not watch this short film made for The Winch by whamper @hollycocker

An Introduction to The Winch from Holly Cocker on Vimeo.


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.