Westminster Befriend a Family



Our own Marathon Man

Well done Tom for completing your first 20km training run

We’re always very grateful when anyone decides to raise money for Westminster Befriend a Family. So we’re extremely pleased to announce that Tom Hutchinson, a Director at The Change Group, a luxury hospitality recruitment agency, has decided to run the London Marathon in April 2019 to help support vulnerable families in Westminster.

He chose us, he says, because one of his friends is a trustee of the charity and naturally recommended us, but also because he now has the opportunity to run a marathon and tick it off his bucket list.

Bucket List

“I’m 38 and I’m not getting any younger. Running a marathon is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do … that and swim the English Channel. We now have a young son so it’s difficult fitting swimming into our busy lives but I can go running two or three times a week. So, if I’m going to run a marathon I’ve got to do it sooner rather than later,” he says.

“One of my friends ran the London Marathon last year and loved it. I like doing exercise. I’ve done a 5k run and a 10k run so now I want to push myself to the next level and run a marathon. It always helps to have a focus.”

Tom will be joined by his work colleague Tom Dukinfield and friend Tim Lopez. “I’m not training with them at the moment,” he says, “as we’re all at different levels. Tom has just started running, I started my marathon training three months ago and Tim is way ahead of us both having run the marathon last year.”

Training Regime

Instead our man Tom is doing two short runs a week of 5-6km and pushing himself at the weekends doing up to 17km. “A marathon is about 44km so once I get to the half marathon stage, which should take me a couple of hours, I’ll stick there for a few months before going for the full marathon,” he says.

Sore feet? There’s a lot more training to go yet!

If you want to support Tom in his efforts please click: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TomHutchinson6 and give whatever you can afford. Thank you.

Ana’s Story

After moving to the UK three years ago with her husband and children Ana started to experience severe isolation.

Ana’s husband moved their family to London three years ago, Ana did not want to leave her country but she went because her husband wanted her to. Her husband controlled every aspect of her life. Ana was not allowed any money of her own to care for the children or herself as her husband believed he was providing them with enough. Having no money or freedom left her unable to leave the house or provide activities for the children, Ana felt isolated and unable to cope as a mother in this new country where she did not know anybody.

Ana’s family was referred to Westminster Befriend a Family by a social worker. They were allocated a family befriender, Suzie, who over time built trust with Ana and helped her to deal with her problems. Suzie met with the family every week for two or three hours. During this time she would play with the children and Ana as well as helping Ana help her children with their homework. Ana’s whole family was also able to share their concerns with Suzie and to build a trusting relationship.

Once Ana and her family had begun to adjust to a new cultural environment, Ana began to attend the parent support group (coffee morning) every week and began making friends and opening up about her situation to them. This was the first group of friends Ana had made in the UK and she was grateful for the understanding support that she received from them. Their friendship has developed a lot since Ana first began the weekly support groups and she now meets with other mothers from the group regularly to carry out activities like their weekly food shops.

The children engaged in weekly community-based activities, which gave them the chance to make friends too. Swimming lessons have provided a safe haven for Ana and her children to interact with others alleviating some of the isolation of their home life. Ana is insistent that Westminster Befriend a Family and the other participant families have become her family’s community.

Please note: we have used stock photography and changed the names to protect the identities of our families.

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.