West London Zone Chief Executive, Louisa Mitchell recognised in New Years Honours List

We are delighted that our Chief Executive, Louisa Mitchell, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List for 2024 in recognition of her “services to children and young people”.

West London Zone is a charity working in an area of deep inequality, where an estimated one in five children and young people are not accessing the support and opportunities they need to take on life positively and thrive into adulthood.

Since its launch in 2016, West London Zone has grown significantly in reach and impact under Louisa’s leadership. We started by supporting around 100 children in 3 schools in north Hammersmith, and since then we have supported 4,500 children in partnerships with over 60 schools and 50 charities across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Brent.

Overall, approximately three quarters of participating children and young people are no longer at risk in their social and emotional wellbeing and two thirds improve their English and maths grades more than expected prior to being part of WLZ. By preventing poor outcomes in later life that could require further intervention by public services, savings are estimated to be approximately £80,000 per child to the public purse. 

Louisa had a background in finance, social policy and charity leadership when she joined the founding team to design and implement the West London Zone pilot project in White City in 2015-16. Her drive and commitment to build, scale and constantly improve our delivery and funding model has been central to enabling children and young people in communities in west London to access the support and opportunities they need, and has been recognised by head teachers, local authorities, central government and philanthropists.

Our charity does this by building trusted relationships, enabling access to and delivering specialist services, and joining up each child’s support system, including families, schools, and organisations working locally, in a personalised 2-year support plan for each child. Crucially, we have developed a method of early identification so that we proactively find the children and young people who would most benefit from additional support and opportunities. We take a ‘whole child’ approach, help them to build the relationships, self-belief and skills they need to get on track socially, emotionally and academically.

In particular, due to deep local relationships and extensive partnerships in our communities, we were able to offer continuous and intensive support for children and families both online and in person during the Covid pandemic.

The defining features of our West London Zone model are:

1. a collective impact model, with each child’s 2-year plan funded by schools, local and central government, trusts, foundations, individuals, local and national businesses – some of it on an outcomes payments basis.

2. a personalised way of working to ensure that all support is the best it can be for every child, delivered and mobilised by a team of trusted adults of West London Zone Link Workers based in each child’s school full time. They guide, support and champion each child, working with them, their families, teachers and other adults in their lives every day  - term time and holidays - for a full 2-years.

3. a data and evidence-led approach to everything we do, enabling an adaptive and constant refinement approach.

Commenting on her honour, Louisa said

“It is an honour to lead West London Zone and to work with our many partners to enable the right support in the right way, at the right time, for children and young people in our communities here in west London. And it is an honour to be awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List for 2024, in recognition of the impact we are having as a charity and a partnership. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in West London Zone over the years. I hope this is just the beginning, and we look forward to supporting many more children and their families together with our partners in future”.

Reflecting our success so far as a charity, WLZ has also received the 2023 Social Value Social Innovation award for our partnership with Bank of America the Centre for Social Justice Education Award in 2019 and was a finalist in the Nesta Good Help Award 2018; and shortlisted for the Children and Young People’s Charity 2018.

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together, every child and young person can flourish.