Connecting communities – our expansion into Chelsea

  • In September 2022, we expanded our work into South Kensington and Chelsea – around the World’s End Estate – where we’re now working with 110 children in Ashburnham Community School, Chelsea Academy, and Park Walk Primary School
  • The WLZ philanthropy team has since been focused on expanding its network of donors in Chelsea, and has hosted events to connect with local residents and new supporters 
  • This has been helped by our new Chelsea Committee, which understands the importance of our work and the need to have this support around each cluster of schools that we work in

We work to empower children and young people to build the relationships and skills needed to get on track, socially, emotionally and academically. 

Part of this is centred on a community approach; we connect young people and their families with local programmes and services to provide a joined-up system of support, while at the same time build relationships with local stakeholders who raise our profile and funds through their dedicated support. All of this means that we are able to support children and their families across a two-year programme, bringing opportunities and relationships together that deepen our reach and impact.

Expanding into Chelsea

We recently expanded our Zone into South Kensington and Chelsea, an area where despite its affluence has some of the highest levels of inequality in the capital, and the available support for children and families – such as local youth clubs or Early Help services – are even more fragmented than they are in the other areas of West London where we work. 

As part of our expansion into this area, we of course, maintained this community-centred approach, and the West London Zone philanthropy team has been working hard to create a strong network that supports the work we do and the impact we have.

Gathering Chelsea under one cause 

On our journey to connect with the south of our Zone, we wanted to replicate the strong core of dedicated supporters that we are fortunate to have as part of the Notting Hill committee. They are deeply embedded in the local community and have been integral to building our support network with events, fundraisers, and word of mouth.

To kick things off, we hosted our inaugural Chelsea event in May, which introduced us to local individuals who were interested in hearing about this extra level of support we provide for young people in their neighbourhood. With speeches from West London Zone CEO Louisa Mitchell, Head of Ashburnham Community School Kate Webster, and Chelsea Link Worker Hannah, it gave a well-rounded overview of our work and made an impact on those who attended, such as Chelsea-based Georgie Rylance-Ciardi and Hanneli Rupert.

We then arranged a series of school visits, inviting potential supporters to Ashburnham and Park Walk Primary School to meet a couple of the children on the programme and see our work in action. 

Our supporters were able to see our work in action at Ashburnham Community School 

Forming our Chelsea Committee

Through these visits, we were able to share our work and our mission in more depth. Attendees had a chance to meet with CEO Louisa, who shared the origin story of West London Zone, and with local Headteachers, who spoke about the community around the school and the strength of their partnership with us. After visiting our schools, Georgie said: 

"With WLZ, the school and the children seem to be a thriving community. The boys who I met are one year into their programme and were confident and engaging. I wish that every child could have the resources offered by WLZ."

We now had two founding members in our new Chelsea committee – Georgie and Hanneli – and could begin to plan our autumn term event strategy.

Our second Chelsea event 

On 7 November, we co-hosted our second event alongside our new committee members who generously supported us in the planning and execution, inviting over 60 individuals to the event including local residents and business owners. Because of their knowledge, expertise and strong relationships in the community, we were able to meet new supporters, talk about the impact of our work in each Zone, and how they can unlock opportunities for children and young people in their neighbourhood.

The event was a great success; the audience were receptive to our work, and many offered an invaluable range of opportunities for our young people as well as introductions to charitable foundations, local independent schools and businesses. Together, both Chelsea events raised enough to fund the work of a Chelsea Link Worker for two years, which is incredibly generous as many guests were hearing about us for the first time! 

Georgie Rylance-Ciardi (left), Lydia Forte, Louisa Mitchell (middle), Hannah Nicholson, Giuseppe Ciardi (right)

Building Ties 

Our work building ties within our community is important and integral to the work we do, whether that is via the delivery team, which directly connects children on the programme to local services and opportunities, or via the philanthropy team, which brings in supporters who help with providing more bespoke opportunities, connections and funding. It all helps in joining up the system of localised support that the young people on our programme often don’t have access to or knowledge of. 

Thanks to our Chelsea Committee, which is still growing, we have begun our journey of rallying the local community in support of the children in their neighbourhood to reach their full potential.

together, every child and young person can flourish.