Don’t miss out on the National Citizen Service

The National Citizen Service is in the news. Since 2011, over 300,000 16- to 17-years-old have participated in the scheme. It is intended as a ‘rite of passage’ for young people and lead to a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society. NCS usually takes place over four consecutive weeks and involves groups of 12 to 15 young people undertaking together: an outdoor residential course to improve team building skills; a residential course to learn life skills and prepare for independent living; and a community project, such as planting a communal garden.

Those participating have overwhelmingly found it very positive. For example a survey shows that 70 per cent of them feel more confident about getting jobs in the future as a result. But the Public Accounts Committee has noted that the cost of courses (largely paid for by the taxpayer) are high compared to those by the scouts and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

One problem is that the NCS has places that are not filled. This seems to me a great missed opportunity.

Some of our local schools are not taken any places at all. A search of the NCS website shows the following:

The Hurlingham Academy
10 young people took part in NCS
That’s 12.20% of your eligible students in 2016

Fulham Cross Girls’ School and Language College
12 young people took part in NCS
That’s 9.80% of your eligible students in 2016

Fulham College Boys’ School
It looks like we have no NCS participants allocated to your school.

Lady Margaret School
28 young people took part in NCS
That’s 12.90% of your eligible students in 2016

Sacred Heart High School
44 young people took part in NCS
That’s 16.50% of your eligible students in 2016

The London Oratory School
13 young people took part in NCS
That’s 3.60% of your eligible students in 2016

West London Free School
23 young people took part in NCS
That’s 19.20% of your eligible students in 2016

Hammersmith Academy
7 young people took part in NCS
That’s 3.60% of your eligible students in 2016

Young Dancers Academy
1 young people took part in NCS

Chelsea Independent College
It looks like we have no NCS participants allocated to your school.

William Morris Sixth Form
5 young people took part in NCS
That’s 1.00% of your eligible students in 2016

Ark Burlington Danes Academy
14 young people took part in NCS
That’s 4.90% of your eligible students in 2016

St James Senior Girls’ School
5 young people took part in NCS

Phoenix High School
6 young people took part in NCS
That’s 2.20% of your eligible students in 2016

St Paul’s Girls’ School
7 young people took part in NCS

The Godolphin and Latymer School
4 young people took part in NCS

Latymer Upper School
8 young people took part in NCS

I hope that schools and parents will encourage more to sign up.

Celebrate diversity on your doorstep with our local Mayor

Join Cllr Mercy Umeh for an evening of dancing, food and music from around the world and help support two important local charities.

The Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham is hosting this unique event on 11th March 2017 at the ‘Assembly Hall’ in Hammersmith Town Hall,  King Street. Built in the 1930s this is one of the largest halls in West London and the perfect venue to host a celebration of the rich mix of cultural diversity in Hammersmith and Fulham. Cllr Mercy Umeh would like to invite residents from all over the city to join the evening and help raise money for two local charities.

The evening will mix together international flavours, culinary delights and artistic performances from all corners of the world, and will include performances ranging from Irish folk music to a Caribbean steel band. Not only this, there will be dancing, drinks, canapes and a three course meal and an opportunity to win some great prizes from the raffle. The evening promises to be a vibrant showcase of what a dynamic and wonderfully varied borough Hammersmith and Fulham is.

The event is in support of the Mayor’s chosen local charities, Hammersmith and Fulham Mind and Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank. H&F Mind is the boroughs leading resource for advice, support and empowerment in mental health. They run projects that range from befriending and counselling services to youth mentoring and carpentry courses for those facing mental health issues or suffering from isolation. H&F Foodbank works across the borough, providing emergency food, toiletries, and other necessities to local people in crisis who have been referred to them.  They also work alongside other organisations to provide professional advice to their clients; as well as running cooking courses and holiday clubs with the long-term ambition of eradicating food poverty. The mayor has championed these two locally impactful organisations since May 2016, and all money raised from the evening will be donated to these vital Hammersmith & Fulham causes.

Tickets are £30 per person or £25 per person for table bookings of 10 people or more. The evening will start at 6pm at Assembly Hall, Hammersmith Town Hall, King Street W6 9JU.

If you would like to purchase tickets for this charity evening please contact: mayor@lbhf.gov.uk or phone 020 8753 2013/2081

The Big Society, and Greenhalgh’s Community Champions

higton2A guest post from Mark Higton

On Thursday I was privileged to attend the 4th Annual Community Champions Tri-Borough Conference, which celebrated the work of the Community Champions programme – the purpose of which is to connect communities and residents with local services by utilising the passion and experience of local volunteers to improve health and wellbeing, and to reduce inequalities. It was a significant event, celebrating the achievements of our volunteers, with over 320 delegates in attendance from across Hammersmith, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster.

champoneI was moved by the public and private testimonies of our volunteers, of George Shaw (Notting Dale), who spoke of his happiness at being able to listen and engage with people, solving problems and improving his skills and knowledge in the process; Heba Al-Rifaee (Old Oak), whose involvement as a Maternity Champion has allowed her to help neighbours, make friends, and to give something back to Britain; David Rice (World’s End), who compared the event to ‘the Brit Awards’, and marvelled at how the isolated and vulnerable have been reached as community barriers were broken down; and Julie Isaac (Queens Park), who read a beautiful poem dedicated to her fellow Community Champions.

The programme was launched in White City, in 2008, as part of the Dept. of Communities and Local Government’s “London-wide Well-London Programme”. As such it was a direct response to David Cameron’s call for Big Society solutions. It was supported by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, led ably by Stephen Greenhalgh, who had also anticipated the need to devolve the commissioning of services to the local community. The levels of engagement exceeded all expectations, and by late 2012 the programme was expanded. Its objectives being to:

  • Implement effective and sustainable community-led approaches, particularly in areas of greatest need
  • Engage and invest in people to build and strengthen good health and wellbeing for their communities
  • Building confidence, knowledge, skills and capacity of local people
  • To work in partnerships with local organisations and agencies to provide volunteering and employment opportunities

champtwoIt was at this juncture, with the support of Councillor Joe Carlebach, that the initiative was launched in Old Oak, and I became involved as a local authority representative. I reflected with some bemusement therefore, when a Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Councillor spoke of their pride on Thursday, ‘in leading the way’, as Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster announced that they intend to adopt Hammersmith’s devolved commissioning and delivery model.

Could this be the same devolved delivery structure that was devised by Stephen Greenhalgh, providing greater funding for areas with long-term social issues than ever before? The one which the Labour group were bitterly opposed to, campaigned against, and pledged to revoke, in stark contrast to their enthusiasm for (Cameron’s) Community Champions? A week, never mind three years, is a long time in politics, but thank you Stephen Greenhalgh!

There have been many accomplishments this past year, but I would like to specifically mention the Maternity Champions programme that was trialled at Old Oak. It was a national first, and a fantastic success. It enables volunteers at Community Centres and Queen Charlotte’s Hospital to sign post services required by mothers and new families, and to provide help and support regarding breast feeding. One of our Champions has commenced a foundation course in Midwifery, and with the Borough-wide (and National) extension of the programme it is hoped that she will be the first of many. We also have high hopes for other programmes that are in development.

As we approach the fifth year of the Tri-borough programme, it is no mean thing to reflect that Hammersmith’s share of volunteer Awards on Thursday accounted for 50%, with 33% in total going to Old Oak. I cannot underline enough what an incredible achievement and success story the programme is, with many volunteers gaining formal qualifications in ‘understanding health and wellbeing’, ‘mental health’, and ‘child birth and beyond’ whilst helping to identify and commission new services that meet local health and social care needs, and resolve long term structural problems.

I would like to thank all our Community Champions for all their wonderful hard work, as well as H&F’s Community Champion’s group: Helen Rowe and the Urban Partnership (Edward Woods), Ewa Kasjanowicz and Kim Barclay (Parkview), Carla Martin, Caroline Lister and Carmella Obinyan (Old Oak), and Mary Hennessy of the original White City pilot scheme. It is interesting to reflect that the facility funding for some of the Centres are now uncertain (having been extended for just 12 months), as the Labour Group look to potentially reduce the number of Hubs from 5 to 3 across the borough.

I would also like to extend my best wishes and hopes to Hammersmith’s new Community Champions, and as the programme is expanded further, to the new teams joining the group: Barbara Shelton (Addison), Sarah Benjamin (West Kensington & Gibbs Green) and the Field Road team (Bayonne and Field Road).

If you know of anyone that would like to get involved, please get in touch via this link.

Football hero George Cohen to be made a freeman of Hammersmith and Fulham

cohenbookTomorrow there will be a special Council meeting to make George Cohen a freeman of Hammersmith and Fulham.

His excellent autobiography makes for fascinating reading – not only about his life as a footballer but also his later life and the early days growing up in Fulham.

Cohen was born in Cassidy Road in Fulham then moving to a Walham Green council flat.

Times were hard – although quite as hard as he momentarily thought. He recalls:

“After the street market at North End Road had closed in the evening I would see old women collecting scraps of vegetables, cabbage leaves, that had fallen from the barrows and I imagined that they were eking out a very slender diet. ‘Oh these poor people,’ I thought, ‘poking around to find something to eat.’ But my brother Len explained that the vegetables were to feed the rabbits which were kept in the little backyards of flats, and were, because of their energetic breeding habits, a wonderful addition to the food supply. You have to remember that in those days a chicken was a rare delicacy. I didn’t taste one until I was eleven years old.”

Jellied eels were his passion.

Cohen was public at Fulham Central School in Fulham Palace Road (later absorbed into Henry Compton). He says that the corporal punishment of the time “the slipper” did not do him any harm. Indeed he adds:

“This was especially so when the slipper was administered by Mel Roberts, a maths teacher and running coach. Roberts was, when I think of it, one of the key men in my development as a boy of good physical gifts who make just make it as a professional sportsman.”

He played for Fulham Football Club between 1956 and 1969 (his highest weekly wage after tax was £80). He was also in England’s victorious 1966 World Cup squad. After the match Nobby Stiles gave him a “big toothless” kiss. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” said Cohen. “It’s like being kissed by a liver”. 34 years later they were each awarded an MBE.

After being forced to retire from football due to injury at the age of only 29 he went on to work for the Cecil Gee clothes shop. (“What are you doing here?” one of his customers, Chelsea fan Sir Richard Attenborough asked.)

Another job was with a building firm Brickman Properties. “Fortunately my education at Fulham Central had been technical so I could make sense of the drawing and do some of my own,” he said. “I also had to learn about planning law, which meant that a lot of my time was spent reading the works of Sir Desmond Heap.”

He went on to set up his own business, with some success. Although later on there was a serious setback when a scheme to build retirement homes in Tunbridge Wells was blocked by Kent County Council despite “conforming to all their demands.” Despite this it did not go through: “We were devastated. We had put so much time and money and now the purchase of the school and grounds was a waste of money.” He had to sell his house: “My capital had been destroyed.”

Worse was to come. His mother was killed by a juggernaut on the junction of North End Road an Lillie Road in 1971 at the age of only 62. Then in 2000 his brother Peter was killed in a nightclub he owned in Northampton by a gang of thugs.

In the 1980s George Cohen overcame bowel cancer and went on to help  cancer and dementia charities.

Earlier this month his statue was unveiled at Craven Cottage.

So a fascinating life of triumph and tragedy. I am pleased it is being honoured.

 

Donate your old (but still functioning) laptops to the homeless at Hammersmith Library

librarywindowThe Laptops for the Homeless Support Initiative aims to curb homelessness by working with businesses and collection sites in and around London. The latest collection site is Hammersmith Library in Shepherd’s Bush Road.

Social Enterprise SocialBox.Biz and homelessness charity, Thames Reach, work together to place these laptops in the hands of homeless already registered with accommodation services.

Hammersmith Library is one of many stepping up to assist in the Laptops for the Homeless Initiative. By partnering with SocialBox.Biz, they are providing their operation location as a collection site for any individuals, businesses, and corporations looking to re-home their outdated, yet still functioning laptops.

SocialBox.Biz then re-homes the donated, usable laptops to disenfranchised members of society. The initiative gives registered homeless a chance to rejoin today’s digital world.

Without access to the Internet the homeless stand no chance of rejoining society. SocialBox.Biz identified this paradox, and is actively pursuing partners for establishing a donation collection network throughout the UK.

https://www.socialbox.biz/homeless-support/

Phone: 0843 289 5722.