2011 couldn’t have ended better for Friendship Works. In December we received the 2011 Bank of America Neighbourhood Excellence Award, we had our most successful ever fundraising event at Café de Paris, and finished the year having established a record number of new mentoring pairs.
So what does 2012 hold for us?
The most important thing for me is that we continue to build on the quality of the service and increase the number of children we support. That may not be a dramatic headline but it is, after all, why we’re here.
We’ll be supporting more children in Southwark, a new borough for us, and one with different challenges. Like our current areas of operation (Camden and Islington) it has high levels of deprivation with 21% of children growing up in poverty, but is also a borough of great income inequality, with pockets of wealth nestled alongside some of the country’s poorest wards. It’s also going to be very badly affected by the current public service cuts. In cash terms, Southwark Council has been the hardest hit of all London boroughs and it’s inevitable that it will need to close down or reduce services for residents. I’m really pleased that we are able to be offer support to families facing difficulties in Southwark in such straightened times.
We’ll also be starting to support children from two parent families. Although Friendship Works was originally set up to support single parent households we also know there are many children from different backgrounds who could benefit. Some of our assessment and supervision processes need to change as we widen our remit and we’ll be trialling and reviewing these over the year. It’s an important development for us and it places children’s needs, not their circumstances, firmly at the heart of our service.
2012 is also the first full year of our grant from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. As part of their support, Jodie Dickey (one of our caseworkers) and I will be flying to the US for leadership training at the Centre for Leadership Innovation. It will also be a fantastic opportunity for us to meet with some of the large mentoring organisations in the US – charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America who have been hugely successful in embedding mentoring into communities across the country.
In summary, we hope that 2012 will be a year where we support many more children, continue to improve our understanding of why mentoring is so effective and grow from strength to strength as an organisation.
Thank you to everyone who’s pledged support to Friendship Works in 2012.We look forward to keeping you posted on developments.