My Swiss Cottage: CEO of The Winch talks about tackling inequality
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 June 2015
Paul Perkins is chief executive of The Winch, a youth charity based in Swiss Cottage which tackles social exclusion, homelessness and gang involvement. He lives in nearby Chalcot Estate and is married to a GP with three children.
What brought you to the area?
I moved to Camden in 2003 as a youth and community worker for St Mary’s Church, Primrose Hill. We started a series of programmes for vulnerable young people, carried out social action projects, campaigned and made a film about the refurbishment of the Chalcot estate. I was at St Mary’s for five exciting years before coming to The Winch.
How has it changed since you moved/started working here?
The area has become increasingly gentrified, which affects its diversity and people’s attitudes towards the ‘other’.However, in recent years the way in which local people, Camden Council and organisations are increasingly working together is an inspiring, exciting change.
What is the area’s best kept secret?
It’s extraordinary, civic-minded young people who set a great example by serving the community, and a range of wonderfully diverse people.
What are the biggest challenges working in your field?
People think this area has little deprivation or disadvantage but in north Camden, over a third of children grow up below the poverty line. Kilburn has the highest child poverty level in the borough. Getting people aware, getting them involved, raising funds and balancing principle with pragmatism are challenges.
If you were editor of the Ham&High for a day, what local issue would you champion?
Inequality. We rarely talk about it because it can feel non-local and instead focus on issues like crime, personal safety and so on. But inequality is the great driver of these problems and an inconvenient truth in our area.
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
In our home we’ve also hosted hundreds of couchsurfers over the years and met some extraordinary individuals. The most inspiring have been those living authentically and purposefully, wherever they are.
If you had to write your own epitaph what would it say?
I would like to think it would say something about making a difference, being a good father and husband and needing a rest!