Awards, rewards, onwards.

Although I am loathe to admit it, we are once again hurtling towards the end of another year. If 2011 was a year of change, and 2012 was a year of construction, 2013 has been a year of emergence. It’s been a year when the work we put into developing The Promise Academy has started to take shape, to have an impact-and to gain recognition.

We recently headed off, as we do each September, for a full team day in Shoreham at a wonderful place called The Quadrangle Trust. Such occasions are a rare but vital opportunity to plan for the time ahead but also to take stock of what has been accomplished over the previous twelve months. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve traveled at The Winch, in two short years.

And so this post functions primarily as an update of our progress in building the UK’s first children’s zone-at a time when other organisations are starting to take an increasingly active interest in what this might look like in their own locality. Our vision of supporting children from cradle to career has come on leaps and bounds, with the image below giving a snapshot of our status.

Some work has been about bridging different segments, whereas much has been about developing new elements and building our research and tech infrastructure.

We have been able to secure resource to launch or explore a number of areas this year, but at the forefront of our model lies the Promise Worker Pilot. The Promise Worker role is our best learning about what does and doesn’t work in child and adolescent development, partnership working, impact measurement and traditional play and youth work rolled into one.

We appointed Zenobia Talati as Lead on the Promise Worker Pilot, with Andre Kpodonu focusing on 18 to 25s, at the end of last year-and the approach has garnered interest from all sorts of quarters. Over the next few months, the Promise Worker role will be the approach adopted by an increasing number of our frontline staff, expanding to include 4 to 11s and families. The pilot has been cited as an example of best practice in Camden and won national recognition, being shortlisted in the awards category for  ‘Children & Young People’s Charity of The Year’ by CYP Now. This is for ‘a combination of innovative practice, effective partnership working or campaigning for change’ that has made a contribution to ‘improving the life chances of children, young people or families’.

Fatuma Osman and Gian Farci picked up awards for their Gap Scheme, with Ace United winning their 2012/13 league. How will we fare at the Children & Young People Now Awards?

I am rarely, if ever, able to complete a blog without a rallying cry-and I am afraid that this one will be no different. It is both exciting and gratifying to see how a children’s zone is emerging in North Camden, to see how it is connecting and impacting more effectively on the lives of children and young people-and of course when it is recognised elsewhere. Yet it still feels very much like a work in progress, the beginning of the journey. The next twelve months will see us focus more intensively on impact measurement across the cradle to career spectrum and invest in developing early years services. We are excited about our imminent launch of the Promise Partnership Report, and working with organisations across and beyond Camden to make the zone a reality.

In this endeavour, I hope you can support us: through encouragement, through funding, through learning and introductions and support. Perhaps the most important insight we took away from Harlem was that here in London we have a latent civic infrastructure that can deliver better outcomes and improve life chances for our children. However, it will take time, resource, patience, determination and a commitment that takes precedent over individual agendas and aims. Please join us in making it happen.

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