West Hampstead cyclist rides Tour for charity

The Tour de France peloton hurtles through London on Monday afternoon, after its foray into Yorkshire this weekend. Yet, one intrepid West Hampstead resident already passed through last Monday on the third stage of his attempt to ride the entire 3,664 kilometres from Leeds to Paris via some of the toughest mountain roads in Europe.

Monty Wates

Monty Wates is a trustee of the William Wates Memorial Trust. In 1996, William Wates, Monty’s younger brother, was killed while travelling abroad aged just 19. The Trust raises money, which it gives to hand-picked charities that work offer young people opportunities, otherwise unavailable to them, to fulfill their potential and stay away from a life of crime. The Winch in Swiss Cottage is one of the charities the trust supports, and it recently received a grant for £60,000 over three years for its Promise Worker project which supports children who need it through the complex and often overwhelming labyrinth of social services that they encounter.

Since 2004, the charity has held the Tour de Force – a fully supported ride of that year’s Tour route a week ahead of the actual race. Most participants ride a “taster”, a few stages of the event. But some – around 30 this year – are what the charity terms “lifers”; the foolhardy few who dare to take on the entire course.

Monty himself has been on a taster or two but despite being intimately involved in the charity he hasn’t before committed to becoming a “lifer” before. He confesses that he’s not really a cyclist although of course he has been doing some training! His personal target is to raise £50,000 for the charity.

Follow Monty’s progress on Twitter @fullmontytour and track the whole Tour de Force. And if you feel moved to donate to the cause you can do so here, or text “WILL19 £10 (or whatever number you want to!) to 70070.

Good luck Monty!

Support your local charity by partying on Camden Beach

Photo credit: Stuart Leech

Photo credit: Stuart Leech

Just a hop, skip and jump away from West Hampstead this August you’ll discover the Roundhouse’s Camden Beach. Think 900 square meters of the finest sand, rooftop gardens, beach huts and deck chairs… if you can’t get to the beach, the beach is coming to you.

If you fancy being the first to dig your toes into the sand then why not head to the Camden Beach Opening Party on Friday 25 July and enjoy an unforgettable night all whilst supporting your local charity?

The Roundhouse has played host to music legends such as Paul Weller, Prince and Elton John. What fewer people know is that the Roundhouse is a charity that improves the lives of over 3,000 young people each year by providing space, mentoring, equipment, projects and performance opportunities to unlock their creative potential. 45% of these young people are from the local area, and 60% of these young people are facing a social and economic disadvantage.

“I was working in a chip shop four days a week with no clear idea on how to access jobs within the music industry or how to turn my passion for music into a career. I’m now working as a Promotions Manager for a record label – if it wasn’t for the support of the Roundhouse this wouldn’t have been possible.” BoDee

The Roundhouse is hosting this party to raise vital funds so they can continue to provide life-changing opportunities for people like BoDee. The evening will feature DJ sets from Roundhouse Ambassadors Eliza Doolittle and Lliana Bird, performances from Roundhouse Emerging Artists, and a whole host of surprises on the night. Tickets start from £55 and include drinks, food, entertainment and access to the after party: so grab some friends, book now and feel good while you party this summer.

Camden Beach poster

Sponsored post

Maggie and Frankie: How Homeshare lends a helping hand

Imagine not seeing another soul for a month and having to lose independence as you get older. This was the situation facing local resident Maggie.

Maggie and Frankie

Maggie and Frankie

“I was very anxious about the future. I really valued my independence, but it was getting harder for me to cope all on my own after recently losing my husband. All I needed was companionship at night and a helping hand at home”

Maggie is far from alone. The sad reality is that more than 400,000 older people in the UK have an unmet need for companionship and help with practical household activities. The charity Crossroads Care CNL provides a simple solution called “Homeshare”.

In recent months Age UK reported that 17% of older people have less than once weekly contact with family, friends and neighbours with 11% having less than monthly contact and about 410,000 older people in the UK have a need for help with practical household activities that isn’t being met through council services.

Sarah Wallace, Head of Services at Crossroads Care CNL describes Homeshare as “a simple affordable service that matches people who feel vulnerable or isolated, and who need help and companionship around the home with people looking for accommodation (Homesharers) who are willing to help.”

The charity carefully selects homesharers who can help with things like cleaning, cooking, laundry and shopping, as well as providing friendship and security. For the safety of the older people, Homeshare carries out DBS and reference checks and works towards finding a person that matches the personality and lifestyle of the householder.

“There is an impending care crisis as the economic climate puts pressure on both council budgets and the income of individuals. We believe our Homeshare programme is part of the solution, as it helps older people remain at home, it supports social workers and at the same time it helps younger generations to find affordable accommodation in London” added Sarah.

Homeshare is part of a national network that supports and promotes the potential of the Homeshare programme. The scheme helps older people stay part of their community, enjoying their own home and their retirement. The Homeshare scheme also helps an older person to build a new supportive relationship safely. Once that’s in place; it makes daily tasks a little easier and helps older people keep their independence”.

In West Hampstead, Maggie now has Frankie. Frankie is originally from York but moved to London in 2013 to work at an arts charity. “I decided to homeshare because I love having input in someone’s life and at the same time I save on traditional London rents,” she explained. “Crossroads Care CNL have been good and matched us up perfectly. It’s important for the family to know that her relatives have someone at home that is keeping an eye, it is reassuring”

Maggie and Frankie live very close to the tube and overground in West Hampstead. The location is ideal for Frankie to go to work and when she comes back, she cooks for Maggie and they watch television together.

Frankie goes back to York one weekend a month and liaises with the family for someone to stay over at Maggie’s when she is gone.

What can you win? Whampgather raffle prizes announced

It’s Whampgather XIII tonight, celebrating the fifth anniversary of @WHampstead on twitter and thus the start of the whole #whamp community project.

As always at whampgather, we’re raising money for The Winch. The Winch is a long-standing youth charity based in Swiss Cottage that works with young people all over Camden in a variety of ways. For some it’s an after-school club, for others it’s a critical support in their challenging lives. Previous whampgathers have funded drama programmes for the kids, and we’ve contributed to upgrading IT equipment among many other things. It’s a charity I personally believe in and think is very worthy of our support.

Thanks, therefore, to all the businesses that generously donate prizes to Whampgather raffles. Once again we have great prizes from the following companies:

West End Lane Books
Mill Lane Bistro
Yi Dao Clinic
The Gallery
Look New Dry Cleaners
One Sixty
Feng Sushi
The Wet Fish Café
and our star prize tonight:
The 7-course tasting menu at Michelin starred restaurant L’Autre Pied

A huge thank you to all those businesses and to all of you coming tonight. Raffle tickets are £1.50 each or five for a fiver. You’ll be able to buy them at the cloakroom (back of the bar near the kitchen), and from our roving raffle ticket sellers. The draw is usually around 10.15pm. If you have to leave early, then I suggest you write your name/contact details on the back of your tickets and give them to a friend or to one of us for safekeeping as otherwise you won’t be able to win!

See you tonight at The Gallery from 7.30pm!

Support food poverty by dining out

Whether you’re in a hurry for a curry, savouring a sushi platter, or tucking into some tapas, now’s your chance to eat so that others can eat. Dine2DonateNW aims to bring the community together to support food poverty.

From February 9th to 13th, participating restaurants in West Hampstead and Finchley Road will donate up to 30% of your food bill to local foodbanks in Chalk Farm and Kilburn, run by The Trussell Trust. The goal is to raise £10,000.

Interested? To support this event, simply present an event flyer when you dine at one of the participating restaurants, or book ahead directly quoting “Dine2Donate”. Some restaurants are even offering discounts of up to 15% on food spend. Look out for flyers being distributed on the streets at the start of next week, or simply print your own. The flyer and list of participating restaurants can be found on the event’s Facebook page or here (or at the bottom of the page).

If you’d like to make a donation, you can at Dine2DonateNW’s JustGiving page.

Dine2DonateNW was founded by 32-year-old software engineer and local resident Anthony Schiller, who has lived in West Hampstead for three years. Struck by the rising number of people living below the poverty line, and with a keen interest in health, he came up with the initiative to get local restaurants and the community involved, and has been pleased with the enthusiastic response so far.

Anthony has high hopes that the community will embrace the event and that it will continue to grow:

“Success would create a real opportunity to expand the event and tackle food poverty on a greater scale. The interest from local businesses is definitely there. Some restaurants have even asked if the event can be repeated more often and expanded to other areas of London. From there, who knows how far this initiative could reach.”

“Funds are needed to open and develop foodbank projects. They help prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health issues. The Trussel Trust supports more than 300,000 people every year across the UK through its network of foodbanks. Let’s support these projects!”

The participating restaurants are: Bombay Nights, Caffe Zaza, La Voss, Lahore Tikka House, Little Sichuan, Seoul Korean Restaurant, Sirous, Spice Tree, Subway (141 Finchley Rd) and Sushi Kou.

Whether your favourite local restaurant is on the list, or you’d like to discover somewhere new – now’s your chance to do so while also supporting a great cause.

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.

RNIB pub quiz at The Black Lion

The Royal National Institute for the Blind’s (RNIB) campaign to promote reading, Read For RNIB Day, is having its biggest nationwide event on 11th October. As part of this campaign, some local residents are taking over the normal Black Lion pub quiz on Sunday 13 October to raise money for RNIB.

The popular Sunday night quiz at the West Hampstead pub will still be hosted by the pub’s usual quizmaster Gareth, with special literary themed questions and exciting prizes thrown in too. Come along, join in, and test your knowledge!

The Black Lion will be donating all the quiz entry money to RNIB and local estate agent Paramount has offered to match whatever the pub raises.

As the usual cash prize will go to charity, other prizes for teams have been generously donated from local businesses. These will be announced during the evening but we can reveal they include signed copies of books, a brewery tour, vouchers for local restaurants and some food and wine goodies.

Local resident Brie has organised the event with Carla, from Paramount. As a literary agent, Brie is naturally an evangelist for reading, and the Read for RNIB Day caught her attention when she discovered that only 7% of books are available for those who can’t read print. Discussing the RNIB campaign with Carla, they decided they would do something fun to raise money and highlight the campaign more broadly.

To learn more about the RNIB’s work and its campaigns head to the Read for RNIB website.

Sunday 13 October 2013, 7.30pm-9.00pm

The Black Lion, 292 West End Lane, West Hampstead

Event details here.

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.

Art exhibition to help London’s homeless

This Saturday, head down to Gloves Boxing Club on Broadhurst Gardens (just round the corner from the tube) to a pop-up exhibition.

It’s for a charity print project inspired by London 2012. London Street Prints is a collection of limited-edition prints by a group of different artists & designers. All proceeds go to London-based charity, Broadway Homelessness & Support. Broadway’s figures show that from 2011 to 2012 the total number of people sleeping rough on the streets of London had increased by 43% on the previous year.

The exhibition aims to raise £2,012 over the course of the Olympics. You can see some of the designs at Each print is priced at £49 for an A3 giclee edition.

London Old & New, Bryan Kitch


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.