Zone sweet home: London charity wins national award for improving educational opportunities


London charity West London Zone has won a Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Award for its work improving the educational and wellbeing opportunities of disadvantaged children.

The prize, presented yesterday at a prestigious venue in Central London, includes a £10,000 grant and promotion of the organisation’s vital work before an audience of influential politicians, journalists and philanthropists.

West London Zone (WLZ) works with schools to find the children in their Zone who might benefit most from additional opportunities and support.

Children who grow up in West London sometimes lack access to the opportunities that will help prepare them for adulthood and achieve their goals. The charity works with those children to progress in all aspects of life, focusing on their wellbeing, confidence, relationships and academic attainment.

WLZ commissions over 35 charities working in their Zone to carry out specialist support sessions to deliver personalised support to every child. Its partners offer a broad range of options including homework support, tutoring, sports, mental health counselling, dance, art or gardening.

Community groups involved in WLZ’s work include families, schools, charities, and local government, and the charity has been praised for its diversified, highly efficient and performance-related funding model.

WLZ provides a link worker for each child, who is based in school and assists the child and their family to develop an individual support plan and act as a ‘trusted adult’ to guide them through their two-year support programme.

The charity’s first two cohorts produced promising results. WLZ children improved in a variety of areas, including schoolwork, wellbeing, confidence or relationships. For instance, 65% of children who finished their programme in summer 2018 are no longer at risk of a mental health crisis, a huge change that will ripple out in other parts of their life and into their community. Seven in ten made progress in core subjects such as English and Maths.

They are working with 700 children during the 2018/19 academic year.

In 2019 the charity aims to expand into new schools across their Zone in order to reach their goal of helping 3000 children and young people across the Zone in the next five years.

Louisa Mitchell, Chief Executive of West London Zone, said:

“We are thrilled to be recognised by CSJ in their 2019 awards, especially as a new organisation.

“We are trying to break inequality in our community, by supporting one child at a time, in a personalised, long-term way in collaboration with schools and a group of other local charities.

“We have seen positive impact already and I am encouraged that the CSJ and others see the potential of this new approach to change the way children are supported in this country.”