#BridgingTheGap Appeal Launch

West London Zone responds to COVID-19 by launching the #BridgingTheGap - An emergency appeal for children and young people in West London.

Since the UK wide lockdown began on 23 March London based children and young people’s charity, West London Zone (WLZ), has experienced a surge in demand extending well beyond the scope of their normal operating model. As a result, the charity has today launched a new emergency appeal called #BridgingTheGap to raise £30,000 to fund vital, additional support for children and families in West London. 

Designed to respond to a range of specific requests the charity has been receiving over the last two weeks,  #BridgingTheGap will enable further enhancement to West London Zone’s existing approach, enabling the charity to continue their work of ensuring long-term positive wellbeing and educational engagement at the same time as supporting those with more immediate emergency requests to minimise some of the immediate impacts of coronavirus on individuals and communities.

West London Zone’s Chief Executive Louisa Mitchell explains further “Because we are so deeply rooted in our local communities and hold strong and trusted relationships with the children and families we work with, we are often considered a ‘safe space’ to request help, provide much needed reassurance and find solutions to problems that might otherwise seem insurmountable. That’s why over the last two weeks we have heard the same stark message from many different sources – that more help is needed and fast. #BridgingTheGap is our solution to this problem and something that we hope will make a real and immediate difference to people’s lives.” 

Specifically, WLZ has received a huge volume of emergency requests for food & basic household items, the payment of household bills, IT equipment to assist the delivery of counselling services and facilitate home schooling, as well as more fundamental resources such as books and arts & crafts equipment. They have also had many more requests than normal for increased translation services to help enable access other agency and government support too. 

West London Zone was established in 2015 and currently supports 900 children aged 3-18 years in 25 schools across Kensington, Hammersmith, Brent and Westminster to overcome challenges, achieve their goals and make their neighbourhoods better places to be. 

This programme of work sees the provision of personalised 2-year programmes of activities for every child they work with, using their unique network of trusted adults known as ‘West London Zone Link Workers’. 

These Link Workers are based full time in schools and design and facilitate programmes delivered by over 40 local charities, with resulting programmes including activities and opportunities for positive wellbeing such as art, dance, sports, and additional academic support to improve educational attainment and narrow the opportunity gap across West London. 

Louisa Mitchell continues “West London Zone works in one of the most unequal parts of the country, where 1 in 5 children and young people are at risk of leaving school with few or no qualifications, often resulting in challenges later in their lives regarding employment, wellbeing and stability. There is already a huge opportunity gap for these children and young people that we work tirelessly to bridge, but the impact of COVID-19 risks widening this gap even further, something that we are simply not prepared to stand by and watch happen.” 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak WLZ has continued to support the 900 children already in their care but due to measures such as social distancing, the closure of schools and other support networks the charity has already adapted its model of working. This, combined with an increased need for help, has meant that WLZ staff are currently interacting twice as often with the families they support to ensure the provision of contact that is vital to help keep children and families on track at this difficult time.  

The new emergency response West London Zone will be providing through #BridgingTheGap will come in addition to WLZ’s existing programme of work, and will be focussed on 4 areas of practical support:  

  1. Food: WLZ works with families who cannot access local food bank services due to post code issues or who for health reasons, cannot collect food vouchers from their children’s schools. WLZ has identified an urgent need to get food and essential household items quickly and easily to these families.  
  2. Technology: To engage effectively with learning and online counselling support there is a real need for tablets, kindles and laptops. Many of the children and young people WLZ works with do not have access to sufficient tech to do so.  
  3. Translation services:  Last week WLZ was able to offer linguistic support to 86% of the families they support who may have English as a second language, but for the other 14% it was more challenging, as many have significant language barriers. WLZ is keen to continue to communicate effectively with all of the families they help, so urgently needs to upweight translation services to ensure they can regularly check in to help.
  4. Creative resources: These are required in order to inspire the children to engage effectively with school based and home learning, for example there is a need for colouring books, Lego, Playdoh, sticker books, pens, pencils etc.  

Donations to the Crowdfunder are welcomed from individuals and organisations alike and can be made via the Crowdfunder website https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bridgingthegap

To download this press release please click here.

For more media information contact Rachel.Gatley@veritylondon.co.uk

together, every child and young person can flourish.