Whampgather raffle prizes

If you’re coming to #whampgather this Thursday, you’re in for a treat. It promises to be the biggest and best yet. [if you have a ticket and realise you can’t make it, do please let me know].

Regular whampgatherers know that the evening falls into two sections. Before the Raffle, when we exert considerable pressure on you to buy raffle tickets because, y’know, whampgather is still free and you get discounts at the bar, and because it’s for a really good cause… and After the Raffle, when the music gets a bit louder and the crowd is a mixture of people sobbing that they didn’t win a prize and other people rejoicing in their victories.

There is of course also a transitional phase – The Raffle Itself – when you get a chance to hear my booming voice coming at you through loudspeakers, as if I didn’t have enough of a God complex already.

What can I win? What can I win?
As always, the raffle ticket sellers will have the final list of prizes, but if you’re super eager, here’s the list as it stands (in alphabetical order)

Bake-a-boo – afternoon tea for two
Feng Sushi – sushi-making masterclass for four people (and the chance to eat some!)
Guglee – £50 meal voucher
La Brocca – dinner for two during the Game Weekend (7th/8th December)
Oddbins – three bottles of wine
Rococo Chocolates – truffle making workshop for four people
Tricycle Cinema – 11 (yes, eleven) seats in the box, for any regular cinema screening
Waitrose – a mixed case of wine
West End Lane Books – three of the latest signed hardbacks AND a £30 voucher
The Wet Fish Café – £60 meal voucher
Yi-Dao Clinic – 1hr massage (Tuina, deep tissue, aromatherapy or holistic)

Where does the money go?
We are raising money for local youth charity, The Winch. We have supported The Winch for the past few years in a variety of ways, and our fundraising efforts so far have pulled in something over £2,500.

At the last whampgather we were able to raise enough to ensure the drama programme continued for another term. I went to see the results of this, and it was so obvious how much this has benefitted the young people involved.

This time, we’re focusing on a different strand of The Winch’s work – its Youth Forum.

The Forum supports 20 young people, eight in the 13-16 age group, and twelve 11-13 year-olds. It is aimed at anyone who wants to develop leadership skills and have more of a decision-making role. It focuses on developing character strengths, and the sessions are built around a healthy meal that the young people cook and eat together.

To date, the focus of the decisions has been on shaping what the kids would like to do at The Winch, and the results have been eclectic – from restarting the music workshop, to enterprise stall ideas for the local Swiss Cottage Fair, to planning a weekend away together. The team leaders also work with sub-groups to develop new areas of activity for the charity, e.g., more sports sessions, music workshops, holiday activities etc.

The Winch works with kids from all over Camden, though it naturally attaracts more young people from the immediate area and the Swiss Cottage estates in particular. On the surface it looks like any other youth club, but its involvement in the lives of young people goes far deeper, especially with its “cradle to career” philosophy, which ensures continuity of support for those young people who face particularly complex and difficult lives. Having been fortunate enough to be involved with the organisation over the past few years, I can honestly say that supporting it has a tangible positive impact on kids who may not have had the priveliges and benefits that many of us have had.

When the raffle ticket sellers come round on Thursday, please buy one or two tickets more than you might otherwise, and we should be able to raise a record amount this time. Joanna from The Winch will also be around during the evening, so if you want to learn more about the organisation, do seek her out. You can also of course read more on the website.

Ride 100 miles for The Winch

Local cycling enthusiast Eugene has had a great idea that will get you fit and raise money for The Winch. Let me hand over so he can tell you all about it.

The weekend before last, I took part in the Ride London sportive – a 100 mile ride on most of the Olympic road race course. Now, if you’re quick, you can enter the ballot for next year’s event. We’re trying to get a Team Whamp together to raise money for local youth charity, The Winch.

[Ed: after helping put together not one but two league-winning football teams, I think a cycling team is the obvious next step for my career in sports management].

What with the who now?
At the beginning of the year, Boris Johnson and Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan announced Ride London – a two-day festival of cycling in the capital. This consisted of

  • A festival in Green Park, a freecycle for 50,000 people followed by a cycling grand prix featuring Britain’s Olympic women’s cyclists on Saturday 3rd August
  • A 100-mile sportive on closed roads open to both individual and charity teams on the Sunday that included some of the tough Surrey hills from the Olympics
  • A 140 mile cycle race for professional cyclists on the same course as the sportive but with three loops of Leith Hill

I was lucky to get a place on the sportive as late as May by riding for Help the Hospices, a charity that works to help local hospices raise money to fund their operations.

Eugene leans into the corner

I was far from a professional cyclist. I had cycled to school and university but then came a time I drove far more than I cycled. Once I moved to West Hampstead I realised London is a smaller city than I thought and I started commuting on a 13-mile round trip to work thinking that would be quicker than the tube during the Olympics. That was my Olympic legacy; a short experiment becoming a first choice commute. I did not renew my annual travel card.

I signed up. Then I got a place in the ballot. “What have I done?” I thought. After all, 100 miles is a big psychological barrier and my longest round trip had been 25 miles. I also had to do it in 9 hours, including stops and using a heavy mountain bike. I trained and put slick tyres on.

I changed my commute to take in more Hampstead hills (Swains Lane, Highgate West Hill) and did long rides on Saturdays. Sometimes I’d use parts of the route. You do need to put in some training if you want to make the recovery easier. Unfortunately, that also meant cutting back on certain foods and alcohol, before giving them up entirely in the month before. No-one said this kind of glory comes easy.

The peloton
If you win a place in the ballot, you are told in February, which gives you enough time to train. A month before you get confirmation of your time. There were 15,000 cyclists in this year’s event, so we started in waves from 6am to 8am.

I confess I panicked when I read that slower cyclists would be diverted onto shorter courses or taken off the course if we did not reach certain points at certain times. This was so they wouldn’t interfere with the professionals. There were Tour de France stage winners in this race – including Peter Sagan, the winner for the past two years of the green jersey for most consistent finisher.

My start time was 7.40am, and I had to get to the Olympic Park an hour earlier. I’m sure Chris Froome doesn’t have to endure this. The course goes down the A12 before turning onto the Limehouse Link. Cue cyclists of all shapes, sizes and ability, shouting “WOOHOO!” echoing off the tunnel.

We passed Tower Bridge, Embankment, Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square and St. James. Once past Piccadilly, it was smooth riding to Chiswick Bridge. Although we were able to use both sides of the road, we tended to keep to the left out of habit. After Richmond Park, we went through to Hampton Court. This was the first hub where you could get your bike looked at and refuel. There were three such hubs and multiple drinks stations with food.

The first major hill was Newlands Corner – I was keeing up a reasonable pace and worrying less about being pulled off the race by the “broom wagon”, which sweeps up the stragglers. The Surrey locals were out in force cheering us on; Union Jacks were everywhere and people had tables offering cyclists drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

I reached Leith Hill – the one we feared. Yes, the hill is steep, you have to grind out a low gear and climb patiently. There was no shame in getting off and pushing (though I didn’t). The descent was scary through the trees but there were so many bikes that people took care.

Finally, we got to Box Hill, which still had some of the inspirational graffiti from last year’s Olympic road race. It’s a smooth road with lots of bends and not as tough as Leith Hill. From the summit, there was a series of rolling hills before Leatherhead and the final hub. It was downhill all the way to Wimbledon, by which time I admit I was in pain. I guess that’s what happens afer 90 miles. By the time we crossed Putney Bridge, the top of the the Houses of Parliament was the most welcome site all day. I turned through Admiralty Arch and, yes, I sprinted down The Mall and met some friends in the pub for a drink.

How do you help?
The grand plan is to make this the annual cycling equivalent of the marathon. The ballot for 2014 has opened and already a few whampers have put our names down. The ballot closes when there are 80,000 entries and there are 20,000 places.

If you think it sounds like a long way, well, even Boris did it – if he can, you can!

Enter the ballot for Ride London 2014 here.

London has improved as a city to ride in but, according to the Times, there were 122 cyclists killed on London Roads in 2012. Ride London could popularise cycling in ther capital and make it seem normal – and we can raise money for charity. Only force of numbers will mean better cycling infrastructure and more consideration given to cyclists by town planners and other road users alike, hopefully reducing fatalities.

Eugene raised just over £2,000 for Help the Hospices, and his Just Giving page is still taking donations.

The Winch got Bare Talent

You all know that we raise money for The Winch. At the last Whampgather all the money we raised from the raffle – which was just shy of £600 – went to support the youth charity’s drama group this term.

On Tuesday night I joined the Mayor of Camden, some parents and Winch helpers, and saw the group’s end-of-term production in one of the theatres at Central School of Speech & Drama.

We were treated to a Winch version of Britain’s Got Talent complete with nasty judges, entertaining advert breaks, and some fantastic performances by the young people. There was singing, dancing, comedy and a grand finale performance of the Harlem Shake.

You could see the confidence of the performers growing even while on stage as the nerves dissipated. They knew most of the audience members, but the stakes were raised by having the Mayor, replete with the chains of office, in the front row.

Aside from keeping us entertained, these drama workshops are enormously important in giving kids self-confidence as well as building their team skills such as listening. Even getting some of them to sit down for a couple of minutes was a challenge at the start of the term apparently, yet here was a controlled performance that the young people clearly enjoyed as much as we did in the audience.

A huge thank you to all the local businesses who donated raffle prizes and to all of you who bought raffle tickets at whampgather. You made it possible for the hardworking and committed staff and volunteers at The Winch to give these kids a creative outlet and an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills that will benefit them enormously as they go through life.

Support the Winch and win great prizes

Tonight’s whampgather (The Alliance, Mill Lane, 7.15pm, ticketholders only I’m afraid) will once again be raising money for The Winch. Specifically, its drama programme Drama Massive.

Each term a slightly different group of 8-14 year-olds attend the weekly workshops, and they create and perform a piece at the end of term. Last year’s Robin in the Hood explored topics such as poverty, wealth, law, and politics. The play was set in contemporary London with Robin using BBM to gather people to protest against the cuts.

Central School of Speech and Drama offer studio space, but the charity needs funding to keep working with its drama facilitator, Rebecca. The broader aim of Drama Massive is to instil confidence, creativity, focus and team work.

Rebecca explains:

“The work we do, whilst fun, is also incredibly important. Drama helps develop social and emotional skills such as self-confidence, team work, conflict resolution, speaking and listening whilst also providing a safe creative space in which young people feel empowered to question the world around them and express themselves. Many of the young people that come to The Winch lead complicated and difficult lives – the process of creating theatre as part of a team can help them to express some of those stresses safely, whilst giving them a place where they consistently feel included, valued & listened to.”

It costs £900 to fund a term of Drama Massive. If everyone coming tonight buys five raffle tickets, we’ll cover that in one night. You’ll get to help provide kids in the area with a chance to do something that’s great for their social development and that’s fun – something that doesn’t always play a big part in their lives.

AND, if the do-gooder in you isn’t moved, then let me appeal to the greedy… because by entering the raffle you’ll have the chance to win some great prizes:

  • A ticket to see Edgar Wright (director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) introduce cult classic An American Werewolf in London at the BFI next month. These tickets sold out in 15 minutes, but thanks to @NxNW6 (who’ll be going with you) you can get your hands on one.
  • An easter egg from Cocoa Bijoux
  • Tea for two at Bake-a-boo
  • A £50 voucher from Guglee
  • A £50 voucher from Feng Sushi
  • A £50 voucher from West End Lane Books
  • A £50 voucher from The Gallery
  • A £50 voucher from The Wet Fish Café
  • A three-course meal for four from Spiga
  • A £60 voucher from Mill Lane Bistro

Also, everyone who buys a raffle ticket automatically gets a FREE easter egg courtesy as a little Easter treat from me. Really, what more incentive do you need?

If you want to find out more about The Winch, check out Ann Kenney from the charity will also be coming along tonight, so you can also speak to her.

See you later!

Cake and consultation for Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day this Friday – arguments aside about whether 50% of the population should probably get more than 1/365th of the days – it’s a day that highlights inequality at both global and local levels.

West End Lane solicitors, Karina Leapman & Co. are supporting Oxfam to raise funds on the day:

“On 8 March, we are selling home made baked goods from outside West End Lane Books on 277 West End Lane and handing out vouchers for 20 minute consultations with a family law solicitor for a minimum donation of £20 towards this cause between 11 and 22 March 2013 (for a limited number of people.)

Millions of women and children live in poverty, where hard work is not enough. We want to take some time to remember these women and help them empower themselves to come out of poverty, receive healthcare, education and food. Surely these are birth rights!

Come and join us, buy a snack for your coffee and make a donation.”

Read more about Oxfam’s “Let’s Get Together” campaign.

Get spinning for charity

Fancy tackling a three hour spin class – all for charity? I thought so. Read on dear friends, read on.

Long time #whamper (well, ok, technically Willesdener), Esther Foreman is doing an Arctic hike for the MS Society in April. Esther, who has MS herself, is a trustee of the MS Society which is based in Cricklewood.

The trip involves travelling over 250 km in the frozen wilderness of northern Norway and into Sweden. The group will be camping in temperatures as low as -20°C and experiencing gruelling 14 hour days.

Aaaanyway, while you can of course donate cash in the usual way, you can also get involved in a more active way. The Virgin Active gym in Cricklewood is sponsoring a 3-hour spinathon on Sunday March 3rd from 10am to 1pm to help Esther raise the funds she needs. It costs a minimum of £10 to secure a bike and you don’t have to be a member of the gym to take part (you can also use other gym facilities such as the pool and steam room while you’re there) and there’ll be fruit and water provided.

It’s basically a three hour spin class with five instructors to keep you on your toes, or pedals, or something. And all for a good cause. There may even be prizes! To take part, head over to Esther’s donation page and everything is explained there.

Winter coats for people who really need them

Chilly isn’t it? Expect you’re digging out that winter coat from the back of the wardrobe to keep you nice and warm as you trudge from your centrally heated house to the hot tube to your heated office and back. Because for those minutes that you’re outside, it’s cold and you want to be warm. Makes sense.

Now imagine that it’s just as cold but you don’t have a centrally heated home, in fact you don’t have a home at all. Nor do you have an office. You’re pretty much outside most of the time. But you want to be warm. Makes sense.

Hands On London is trying to help. For the second year in a row, it’s organising Wrap Up London. The idea is that you donate a winter coat for homeless people and those living in poverty. Maybe you have a coat that’s no longer in fashion, maybe it’s not as smart as when you bought it, maybe you simply have too many coats in your wardrobe, or perhaps your son or daughter has grown out of the coat you bought them a couple of years ago. So give it to someone who really needs it.

Hands On London’s second annual coat collection campaign will take place from Monday 5th – Friday 9th November. It aims to collect and distribute 10,000 coats to London’s most vulnerable people via more than 80 different shelters and charities.

There are a few ways you can give your coat: at major tube stations next week between 7 and 11am (see website for full details), or, more conveniently for some, you can drop it in to Paramount estate agents on West End Lane during its office hours (Mon-Thu 9-7, Fri 9-6.30, Sat 10-3) right through to November 14th. Help keep someone warm this winter.

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

Charitable thoughts

Cancer Research UK is looking to form a fundraising group in this area but needs your help. As a Fundraising Group, you would decide to organise what fundraising events you want, how often you want them and you will be supported by Cancer Research UK every step of the way. It might be a gala ball, a dog walk, an abseil, a quiz night, a bike ride event, a golf day or a lunch party – whatever it is, it can be a great way to have some fun while raising money to fight cancer.

If you would like to get involved, or find out more details please contact Sophie at or visit the website.

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.

Good food for a good cause

Last night saw 40 people, including quite a few #whampers, back at The Wet Fish Café for the second supper club. This time there was a Sicilian twist to the gastronomic experience, but a very local twist to the evening overall as we raised money for #whampforgood cause The Winch.

For a review of the evening, let me hand over to Jo Hodson, a veteran of the November supper club:

“Another fun evening at The Wet Fish Café!. This is such a simple idea that works so well – André and his team put on a three course meal with three different wines and all the guests sit at long tables and enjoy the evening.

What makes these evenings so good? Well for a start, André and his team create a relaxed and convivial atmosphere – it’s like going to a perfectly hosted dinner party. The restaurant is beautifully lit and the long tables mean the the diverse but always interesting guests are encouraged to mingle. The wines were expertly introduced by Victoria Curatolo, a very glamourous Sicilian, whose family-run vineyard, Villa Tonino, supplied the wines for the evening.

The menu this time was built around the wines; crab with avocado and a chilli and red pepper sauce – a perfect balance of texture and taste. I’m no wine buff but even I could tell that the wine served with this (Grillo, Villa Tonino, 2008) further enhanced the flavours of the food leaving a nice lemony tingle on the tongue. This was followed by fillet of beef with pink peppercorn jus, cheesy mash (divine) and broccoli, washed down with a lovely smoky red wine – Baglio Curatolo, Villa Tonino 2006. Finally, and in my opnion, the pièce de resistance – almond tart, marsala mascarpone and raspberry – melt-in-the-mouth pastry! The fruit and nut flavours of the Marsala Riserva Superiore served alongside went perfectly with it.

It was a really pleasant way to spend a Monday evening – the atmosphere, food and drink alone would have led to that but it was all rounded off nicely by a thank you from Paul of the Winchester Project a local charity who were benefitting from the night. All in all everything combined to leave a very nice taste in the mouth.”

There’s a very swish video of the evening here

(Photo: James Leigh)

The Wet Fish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Whampcarol success despite the cold

Tuesday night was #whampcarol night. Clear skies meant a cold night and, with the bridge still closed due to the flooding, West End Lane was eerily quiet with minimal traffic and surprisingly few pedestrians.

Undetterred, the band (the magnificent @eastlondonbrass) arrived and together with @helenstone, @gitfinger and my fellow mince-pie maker @SarahReardon, we set up our stall. Even before we’d started playing, people were generously giving up their small change to the two charities: The Winch and the band itself, which works with kids in east London.

As the cold fingers worked their way through Christmas classics there was a regular stream of donations.

The Holly & The Ivy, “live” from West End Lane (thanks to @gitfinger).
Listen! We had both sides of the road covered so no-one could miss us and despite the quiet evening the hit-rate was high. A small cheer went up when the first £5 note was pushed into the collecting tin, but it wasn’t to be the only one. After almost 90 minutes playing and with the temperature dropping we decided enough was enough and we’d leave the people of West End Lane in peace. We hurried to the Alice House to defrost, taking our table and of course instruments in with us. One table started chatting to us and suddenly we were offered £60 to play two carols right there. The bar manager very graciously agreed we could, and our pot was £60 bigger. Thank you very much indeed to that generous man. We raised just shy of £250, which was outstanding for such a quiet evening. Already there was talk as to how we could make next year’s bigger and better. Thank you to everyone who took part, and especially to all the people who gave money. We really appreciate it.

Photos courtesy of @gitfinger and @helenstone


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.