4 years ago, on August 8th 2011, North London Cares launched amid rioting on the streets of London.
Our plan was always to build a community network connecting young professionals and older neighbours to hang out with and help one another in this manic city of ours. But on that August night we were frustrated that young people in our home town were being misrepresented by a minority. We wanted to prove that young people care about their neighbours and their community.
So within a couple of hours of the trouble breaking out, North London Cares mobilised people to go out on the streets to help with the post-riots cleanup. That "broom army" movement outgrew us, but we were happy to launch our idea quickly, to have such enthusiasm from people excitedly getting involved in their communities, and to receive a grateful tweet from mayor Boris Johnson.
Over the subsequent 4 years, we've returned to our original mission of tackling urban isolation in our capital city by creating relationships across social and generational divides. And we're so inspired that you – our amazing volunteers, supporters and funders – have done so much to create that community network.
We have uncountable wonderful memories of those 4 years – and we know you do too. Creating the very first film nights in April 2012 and sending Lil onto the BBC One Show. Christmases in King's Cross, Kilburn and The Cally. The big Jubilee party on the Harvist Estate in Holloway.
Dance parties for younger and older neighbours. Learning more about our inspiring, funny, passionate, eccentric, full-of-character older neighbours, who have a lifetime of stories to tell, through our Hidden Heroes film series. BBQs, business visits, gigs, cocktail parties, Heath trips and more, all over Camden and Islington.
In those 4 years, North London Cares has:
And of course what really matters is that 81% of older neighbours participating regularly feel more connected. 73% feel less isolated. 86% are more able to appreciate the world.
None of that interaction, none of those relationships, would happen without the endless support, commitment, time, energy and personalities of you, our volunteers.
We're so proud of what you're achieving together, and we get so many messages every single week from neighbours who tell us how appreciative they are of the time and support you give them.
Now, as we look to the next 4 years and beyond, we have big plans for this community network.
But before we get cracking on those, we want to take a moment to celebrate our 4th birthday with a party at Proud Camden on August 12th, and to thank you for all the wonderful moments you've shared. Please do join us!
And, to mark our 4th birthday, we'd also love to invite you to participate in North London Cares' community network in 4 new ways:
We always feel a bit reflective at this time of year, as we recall the context of rioting in which we launched 4 years ago and all the hundreds of ways in which young Londoners inspire us every day through their warmth, personality, humour and sharing.
Thank you for everything you do. We really hope to see you at the party. And here's to the next 4 years of North London Cares.
Oh and psst - if you're reading this and you're south of the river, our sister charity South London Cares is having its first birthday just next week. Join the fun!
Posted by Alex Smith on Tuesday 4th August 2015
Alex is NLC's founder and CEO.