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How would the approach work with existing service provision? Instead of aiming to shift or re-align existing services, the role of a Children’s Zone would be connective; A zone would fill the gaps between local services, making a ‘distinctive and additional’ contribution, rather than competing or aiming to replace existing provision: “English children’s zones must find ways to mesh with established structures in order to facilitate partnership working and maximise the use of existing resources. But at the same time, they must have the flexibility to develop their own strategic visions and working practices, and not be hidebound by existing arrangements.”

From NYC to NW3? The Winchester Project (below) have spent the last two years examining their approach and exploring the potential for more impactful ways to support the children and young people in North Camden. As part of their interest in the Children’s Zone model, Winch members and staff undertook a research visit to Harlem in 2011 to talk to talk to organisations and practitioners. (1) Back in the UK, The Winch began to realise their unique position lends itself to many of the requirements of the development of a zone:

• The area The Winch covers has a tight

geographical focus, which can literally be plotted on a map. • The Winch has established relationships with children, young people and families across the area, and has been part of the community for over two generations.

• The children and young people who currently use the Winch, are aged from 4 right up to 25. • The Winch holds good relationships with local providers of public service provision in the area, but as a voluntary organisation, retains a position of autonomy.

For the Winch, the next step was to build a better understanding of where it sits locally in the delivery of services to support children and young people in North Camden, and which services are best placed to work together within the context of an anti-poverty agenda for the area.

ABOUT THE WINCH: The Winchester Project was established in 1973 when a group of young people squatted a derelict pub in Swiss Cottage, Camden. The squat became a hive of activity for young people with nowhere to go and nothing to do: a radical venture that grew into a grassroots organisation The Winch become known across London for its pioneering, creative and relational work with children and young people, a willingness to stand up for what it saw as important and an ability to innovate exciting new projects. It set up one of the UK’s first disability bike projects and an alternative school featured in The Guardian and Times Educational Supplement. It maintained a diverse range of free, open-access activities across Play, Youth and Sport streams In early 2011, The Winch undertook a major change process including a series of ‘learning journeys’ to explore best practice at home and abroad. The following November, this led to the launch of ‘The Promise Academy’, an initiative to develop the UK’s first Children’s Zone. Based on learning from Harlem Children’s Zone and a plethora of other charities, the model focused on cradle to career support, enterprising approaches, partnership working and a commitment to impact-led decisionmaking. Over the past 18 months, The Winch has launched three pilots, an enterprise programme and projects in partnership development and research.

(1) A video diary of the Winch’s visit to Harlem is here:


'Whatever It Takes'  

A report into the potential for partnership working to better support children, families and young people in Camden, north London.

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