2 years ago today North London Cares launched against the backdrop of rioting. Our vision then, as now, was to connect people who might not normally interact to help bring communities together. Our specific mission was to support older people. But beyond that, we were also concerned about the trouble on our streets, and wanted to try to do something about it...
We'd been planning North London Cares for a while. We'd estabished a board and registered the company (now charity), we'd even set up a Twitter profile, but we hadn't yet developed a website or built the key partnerships that would help us learn and grow.
But that night, we were confused about the images on the streets of our hometown. Although we understood the reasons for the trouble, we knew young people in London to be overwhelmingly positive, productive, inspiring people. We wanted to deploy North London Cares to demonstrate that.
Within a couple of hours, we'd put up a nascent website and encouraged people to get involved in the clean-up of their communities.
People responded amazingly, tweeting and retweeting and posting messages through Facebook. We had 5,000 hits to our brand new website in those first few hours. And by the next morning, we'd helped direct people to the streets to assist with the sweep.
That broom army movement outgrew us but we were so proud to play a part and chuffed when the Mayor of London tweeted his thanks for the role we played in an important moment.
Since then, we've refocused on our central mission: connecting young people to their older neighbours to offer a little extra time, practical support, social connection and human companionship. You can read about the work we did in our first year in our2011/2012 Annual Report.
And over the last year the volunteer network has really grown. Over 500 of you have now signed up to work with some 430 older neighbours. You've created 16,000 new interctions and invested 6,000 new hours into the community. You've hosted over 160 social clubs ranging from storytelling nights to cooking sessions. You've supported older neighbours to concert trips and film outings. You're helping our neighbours stay connected through our winter projects and mobile phone learning sessions.
And there's lots more to come over the next year. After the summer we'll be launching a new ambassador volunteer programme (stay posted), which will offer lots of new and exciting ways to volunteer and at many different levels.
In the meantime, we're having a party to say thank you for everything you've done so far. If you've been involved with NLC over the past 2 years, or even if you're just curious, we'd love to see you tonight at the Yorkshire Grey pub on the corner Theobold's and Gray's Inn Roads.
Posted by Alex Smith on Thursday 8th August 2013
Alex is NLC's founder and CEO.