Westminster Befriend a Family

#UncoverWestminster – Opportunities


#UncoverWestminster – Opportunities

Nat Gallery opportunities

A recent poll showed that one in six people worldwide want to move to London for work. As for so many people London is seen as the city of opportunity. It offers an amazing array interesting jobs, spectacular homes, unforgettable entertainment, countless activities, incredible food and endless things to do; on the surface it appears there are no reasons not to love London life. But for so many living in the city, this could not be further from the truth.

London has the highest child poverty rate in the country; it contains 10 of the top 20 constituencies with the highest child poverty rates in the UK. Reasons for living in poverty vary, but rising living costs, job loss or benefit changes are often key factors.

Living in poorer conditions can affect childhood, as growing up in poverty increases the chances of young people being cold, hungry and unable to join in the activities in which their peers are involved. For example, ‘60% of families in the bottom income quintile would like, but cannot afford, to take their children on holiday for one week a year’, demonstrating how poverty can diminish the opportunities available to young people.

There have been cuts throughout the country in recent years, and these have had a huge impact on families in Westminster. In the 2014/2015 budget Children’s Centres lost £474,000, Youth Services were cut by £125,000 and Play Services faced a loss of £152,000 of funding. In the 2015/16 cabinet report the Westminster council announced £36 million worth of cuts to the budget, with the youth budget being cut to zero. This has diminished the opportunities available to young people in Westminster.

At Westminster Befriend a Family we aim to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged families in Westminster and one way we do this is through offering a wealth of opportunities to isolated and disadvantaged children. In the past we have organised trips to the seaside and the zoo, activities such as picnics and Christmas parties. For many children, these are rare opportunities to join in the leisurely activities that their peers are involved in, and for some, these trips offer a rare chance to leave London.

Our community activities, such as swimming and martial art lessons provide opportunities for disadvantaged children. For many of the children this is the only activity they take part in each week. Every child deserves the right to hobbies.

My daughters waits for Thursday, she begs me to go! It is very important for our children and for us as parents. It is the time when we meet and have a chat

This begins to show the importance of opportunities for disadvantaged families, we need to #UncoverWestminster to raise awareness of these issues and to make sure every person, adult and child alike, has the chance to experience London as a city of opportunities.

Small – and mighty – charities


90% of organisations in the voluntary sector are small or medium sized charities. Despite making up such a large percentage of the sector the work that they do often goes unnoticed by many. Research commissioned by TSB, and reported in the Guardian (13/06/16), shows that small charities miss out on donations due to small profiles. However, as small and medium sized charities we are more and more involved in plugging gaps in local service provision than many of our larger partners in the sector. We at Westminster Befriend a Family are a charity set-up by local people, for local people. We draw a large proportion of funding and support from the local area and local business. Maintaining our profile is a direct result of diligent work by our volunteers nurturing links with the local community. In a borough like Westminster this is particularly hard owing to the transience of residents and local workers.

At a time when trust in charities is low, small charities go against the trend by staying close to their core mission and strengthening their roots in the local community. What small charities lack in size we make up with the strength of our networks. These are our greatest assets.  They allow us great insight into the issues affecting our service users. Our locally based, high quality networks grant us the knowledge to do our jobs effectively and efficiently. As a part of a local community we can respond to needs as they emerge, helping to improve community cohesion and bring people closer together. Another advantage, that we as small charities have is our ability to reach those who are hardest to reach. This comes from a combination of our deep local knowledge and our approachability. We are not intimidating behemoths, but approachable, human organisations.

Despite the advantages of our small size, there are severe draw backs, our size makes robust data gathering and competitive tendering hard when facing huge charities with dedicated departments. Our strong ties to our local area make maintaining a large profile difficult and as noted above make fundraising a struggle. These difficulties are what makes weeks like Small Charity Week so important. It gives us the platform to make our voice heard and to raise our profile. Small charities are a crucial point of local knowledge and support, but we need support too.

Run for Charity

Calling all runners!

WBAF has five running spaces in this year’s Royal Parks, which is being held in and around London’s Royal Parks this October, and we are looking for enthusiasts to fill these spaces.

If you enjoy running and would like to make a difference to disadvantaged families  in Westminster, let us know! Please email Chris Davis on chris@befriendafamily.co.uk or call 0207 828 2765 for more information or to apply.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thank you!

A huge thank you goes out to all the volunteers and visitors who came to enjoy the Elizabeth Street Summer Party on 11th June!elizabeth st summer party pic

The event proved to be a success despite temperamental weather – the food, drink and entertainment brought together thousands of visitors who witnessed the likes of performances by Holland Park Opera, face painting, raffles and stilt walkers.

And special thanks to the organisers, sponsors and those who made the event happen. Thanks to you, Westminster Befriend A Family reached out to potential supporters and collected funds to help us continue to support families across Westminster.


Join us tomorrow at the Elizabeth Street Summer Party 2016!

When: 3-11pm on Saturday 11th JunePostcard Updated

Where: Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W. A 5 minute walk from Victoria Station.

Please come and join us tomorrow at the Elizabeth Street Summer Party from 3-11! There will be food, drink, a fancy dress parade, entertainment, a performance by Holland Park Opera, live music and lots more!

There is a suggested £5 donation to Westminster Befriend a Family for attending on the day and we would really welcome your support. So please come along and enjoy what promises to be a wonderful occasion.

If anyone is interested in volunteering on the day then please contact Chris Davis at chris@befriendafamily.co.uk or call 0207 828 2765 for more information.

And a huge thanks to Cubitt House, the Belgravia Traders Association, the Belgravia Society and Twenty Two Events for all their hard work in organising this event and the amazing support they have shown to the charity. We would also like to thank all the sponsors who made the event possible, with special thanks to the title sponsors the Harbour Club, Grosvenor and Cubitt House.