The Winch: Swiss Cottage community centre’s call to ‘support our summer’ and help children make up for lost time as lockdown eases

PUBLISHED: 10:07 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 25 June 2020

Children at the Winch in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The Winch

Children at the Winch in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The Winch


Swiss Cottage community centre the Winch is hoping a “support our summer” fundraising drive can help raise funds to give vulnerable families much-needed support as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

Volunteers deliver food from the Winch community centre in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The WinchVolunteers deliver food from the Winch community centre in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The Winch

The centre, which has been at the heart of the community since the 1970s, has spent the past three months helping to support disadvantaged young people and families struggling with the impact of confinement.

After making it a priority to call up the 100 most vulnerable regular users of the centre, the Winch staff have helped with emotional support and physical necessities.

In partnership with their local GP their team has been delivering food around north Camden – and as soon as opening was possible the centre itself has been finding ways to help its community.

Rashid Iqbal, chief exec at the Winch, told the Ham&High how it had adapted, and why it was anxious for more funds to help support the most vulnerable over a long summer and beyond.

Children at the Winch in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The WinchChildren at the Winch in Swiss Cottage. Picture: The Winch

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He said: “We have been supporting the vulnerable in our community with food deliveries, shopping help, phone calls. Iniitially, it was helping with the material things – people who couldn’t shop, lack of access to devices.”

At the moment, the centre is open to families three days a week, by appointment only. Rashid explained: “They may be families in temporary accommodation, families who have fled domestic violence, or families struggling with their mental health. Effectively the people with underliing inequalities who have been suffering the most.

“We have developed a system where they have the opportunity to come in and see support staff while, social distancing, we’re able to look after their children, too.

“But clearly, it’s not enough. We can only see 20 or so families and we need ways to do more.”

The Winch has provided after-school provision and childcare for key worker families in collaboration with Holy Trinity Primary, and is planning on working with families to expand this and help feed vulnerable children over the summer.

Rashid, who empahsised BAME groups had suffered disproportionately with youth unemployment, anxiety, and being those most likely to return to work soonest, added: “There’s not funding for children’s wellbeing, their emotional development in other senses. There’s a huge amount of work to be done, this all takes money.”

To help the Winch’s campaign, which will see donations between June 23 and June 30 doubled, visit

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