Westminster Befriend a Family



Look Out for Our Fantastic AUCTION

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Look out for this year’s fantastic charity auction raising money for Westminster Befriend a Family and hosted by our friends at Forster Chase. The auction takes place at the M Restaurant, 60 Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AY.

Forster Chase specialises in the global life and pensions market as well as protection and healthcare, and has very kindly chosen to support Westminster Befriend a Family, as one of two charities, with the proceeds from its annual charity fundraiser and city networking event.

Great, great prizes

Some of the great prizes on offer include:

  • Three-ball golf at the Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club
  • A three-course meal for two, including a glass of prosecco on arrival and a bottle of wine with the meal at Fescobaldi in Mayfair, and
  • A meal for two with wine at Tibits vegetarian restaurant in Mayfair

And two of the bigger prizes up for grabs include:

  • FOUR executive seats at the Manchester United vs Chelsea game on 27 April, 2019








And FOUR-ball golf at Queenswood Golf Club, including caddies and lunch.



Even if you know nothing of football, you’ll know that Man Utd and Chelsea are two of the biggest clubs in the world and match tickets are extremely hard to come by, more so if they are tickets for executive seats. While Queenswood Golf Club, in Ottershaw near Chertsey, is one of the most exclusive clubs in the country.

Alongside the auction will be a raffle with more prizes available, such as a tour of the Denbies Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey; three NOW TV sticks with passes; tickets for the Comedy Store and a tour for four of Fullers Brewery.

So come and join us for some great music, drinks, nibbles, a raffle and a charity auction and have a fabulous evening of good humour and revelry. www.mwinestore.co.uk/shop/forster-chase-at-m-restaurant. See the invitation: Invitation 091018 WBAF


Community Really Does Matter

Blanka, her husband and their three young children have lived in temporary accommodation for almost nine years. They’ve experienced many difficulties living like this, not least of which is the overcrowding and safety concerns. But for Blanka more challenging still was the simple lack of community.


Family life suffers when there’s no community

She and her family found it hard to form a strong social network with other families on the estate. New families were always moving in and out, and the high turnover made it almost impossible to sustain any kind of friendship and develop a community spirit.

This is in stark contrast to the community Blanka experienced while growing up in her native Poland, where children would be in and out of each others homes, run around and play together while their parents could socialised, take a break and get whatever help and advice they needed. Blanka became more and more concerned that her young family were missing out and would never get to enjoy the benefits of a strong community and she was keen to turn this around.


Creating strong community bonds

Through her involvement with Westminster Befriend a Family (WBAF), Blanka was able to slowly create that strong community bond she so craved. By taking part in many WBAF programmes, such as the twice-weekly mothers’ coffee mornings, the annual family Christmas party and the occasional special family fun day out, Blanka got to see the same families on a regular basis and build close friendships with other mothers in similar situations to herself.

Westminster Befriend a Family was also able to help her find regular swimming lessons for her children, which as well as helping them overcome their fear of the water, increased their self-confidence and helped them find and make friends with other local children.


“I feel blessed”

Supporting Blanka over the years has helped her find the confidence to alleviate the isolating home life her family was experiencing. “Westminster Befriend a Family and the other families supported by the charity have truly become my community and the community for my family,” she said. “I really do feel exceptionally blessed.”


View from Mount Snowdon

Top of the World

Today, Noreen Sumra, intrepid chair of Westminster Befriend a Family, went above (literally!) and beyond the call of duty. She spent her Wednesday in Snowdonia hiking up the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon. After a gruelling training programme, Noreen’s efforts paid off as she made it up to the summit much quicker than her target time.


Noreen Sumra Ascending Mount Snowdon

Noreen Sumra Ascending Mount Snowdon

“I am seriously not fit”

For someone who claimed to be seriously not fit and found her training climbs ‘a hard slog’, Noreen made the climb look like a breeze. She had aimed to get to the top, weather permitting, in three hours. Enjoying the views as she went, she smashed her target, reaching the summit in a mere two hours and fifteen minutes!


Noreen Sumra almost at the top of Mount Snowdon

Noreen almost at the top of Mount Snowdon

Some facts about Mount Snowdon for you

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 1085 metres above sea level. As you can see from the pictures, there’s a good reason why it’s the third most visited attraction in Wales. The mountain itself is volcanic in its origins, produced in the Ordovician Period. It has been shaped over the centuries by glaciation, forming into a pyramidal peak. There’s a railway that’ll take you to the top. Note to our chair – it’s easier by train!


Noreen Sumra at the summit of Mount Snowdon

Made it!: Noreen at the summit of Mount Snowdon

In her own words

She had this to say:

I am absolutely amazed, and not a little bit hyped, about successfully completing my ascent in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I had set myself a target of doing it in 3 hours because I am seriously not fit and based on times achieved by friends.

It was an almost spiritual few hours. So many climbers had told me that “the mountain needs to be respected” almost as if it’s a living thing. You see what they mean when you get to the summit.

I would recommend the climb to everyone for the peace and solitude you feel on the way up (despite the panting) and the sense of achievement on the way down.

Thank you to all my supporters and donors. You did a good thing and I feel great not to have let you down.


The view from Mount Snowdon

Wow. Just look at that view

You can catch up with Noreen’s other posts on her Snowdon Climb page.

If you’ve been inspired by Noreen’s story and would like to support Westminster Befriend a Family, we’d LOVE to hear about your fundraising ideas. If you’re not up for mountain climbing, you can make a donation to our amazing charity by hitting the DONATE button.

Bonded Together Again

They almost disintergrated

Nadia’s family was at risk of completely falling apart after suffering domestic violence followed by a very painful divorce.

As a mother of four, all under nine years of age, Nadia was struggling with depression and finding it extremely difficult just talking to her children, one of whom has special needs.

A WBAF befriender called Lisa, who had Positive Parenting training, was assigned to help Nadia regain her confidence and reconnect with her children.

She met with the family two or three hours every week for six months and was gradually able to help Nadia better understand her children’s needs and communicate with them. Lisa played with the children and helped them with their homework and joined the family on fun days out so the whole family were able to share enjoyable experiences together and bond.

In giving Nadia lots of emotional support and a listening ear, Lisa was able to help her unburden herself of a lot of the negative feelings she had about her marriage breakdown. Lisa also steered Nadia towards making use of local services – housing services, health clinics and playgroups – that helped her improve her living situation and family life and reduced their isolation.

At the end of the six months there was trust between all five members of the family. Nadia was talking to her children more; she was more confident in herself and in her parenting skills; she found better ways to cope with situations and make important decisions that showed she was now more in control.

Nadia said: “With Lisa’s help I am now more aware of things. She taught me so much about young children, how to see them and experience them. She taught me how to cope and take care of myself and my family. We were near to breaking point but Lisa brought our family back together so I can now properly take care of myself and my children.”

Noreen shines through on a rainy day

Noreen Sumra training in the rain

Even the torrential rain won’t stop her!


On what should ideally have been a duvet day (and which usually is) I took the opportunity to walk in torrential rain in Windsor great park to test my wet weather gear; I am reliably advised that there is a huge possibility of my climb being weather challenged, so I guess it was a timely downpour.  As you may be able to make out, my supposedly waterproof sweatshirt is anything but!  Another shopping trip, I think. 7.4 miles in just under 2 hours… I’m happy!! Thanks for reading my stories and for your donations.