By Khawar Malik, Chief Executive
Merry Christmas! I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their support in 2017 and give an overview of some of the recent developments at Apples & Pears.
A milestone birthday
We turned 5 this year and it was amazing to celebrate with so many of you (recap here for anyone who missed it). Along with raising funds and meeting so many supporters, the milestone offered an opportunity to reflect on the development of our project over the years.
Since setting up a six trip pilot at one school in 2012, we’ve enabled over 1,500 different primary school children (with a family member each time) from schools in Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Greenwich and Lambeth to go on over 170 trips across the city. This school year around 50 schools and charities will benefit from Apples & Pears funding – a far cry from 2012!
Despite our expansion, we’ve managed to stick to our mantra of 100% of raised funds going to projects with operational costs being covered privately.
Build with, not for – adding depth to our projects.
We’re an organisation that has taken great pride in building with the communities we work in and not just for them. That’s meant working closely with parent support workers to see how we can use the trips format to develop understanding within communities. For example:
- The Londoners Project pairs families from outside of London (be it Italy, Sudan or Derby) with born and bred Londoners to take a year to learn and explore together. This has resulted in families sharing cultures, cuisine, stories and of course, perspectives.
- Many of our trip volunteers are themselves new to London with limited networks. The trips give them a chance to meet local people, find someone to say hi to on the way to the tube and maybe even support one another’s work. This kind of community building is particularly critical in rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods.
- We’ve seen schools where fathers haven’t traditionally taken an active role in their children’s education but through meeting one another and finding common barriers such as lack of confidence in their own numeracy, they’ve on their own merit found common solutions. In that instance, Maths Dads – a group that shares a maths tutor so those fathers can help with their children’s homework.
- Where schools don’t have support workers, we’ve taken to funding venues like Omnibus, Blue Elephant and Half Moon Theatres to expand their outreach work. That way – local families can still access culture on their doorstep.
The Engine Room – fundraising and behind the scenes
2017 was our best ever fundraising year! Some highlights:
- 35 cyclists rode Coast to Coast for us earlier this year – raising (in partnership with the Exilarch Foundation) close to £35,000!
- Our regular volunteer and London Marathon runner Jack Gardener raised £7,000 in April.
- We also had twelve British 10k runners and our first ever international fundraising effort from Linus and Rowland – those two events combined raised over £6,000.
Thank you to all of you who raised funds and donated! Moreover, I’d like to say a brief thank you to the nearly 30 strong team of board members and business support volunteers who keep Apples & Pears running every day. As an entirely volunteer led organisation, there’s no way we’d be able to do anything without you giving up your time and sharing your skills and resources.
Along with our schools expansion, in 2018 we’re seeking to fund women’s refuges directly to help women ease back into spending time in public spaces after experiences of domestic violence and will be partnering with Tower Hamlets Virtual School for our first ever project for children in care. We’ll also be expanding our work with Half Moon Theatre to include funding for children with speech, language and communication needs.
We can’t – and don’t – own the amazing things the communities we work with do to confront the rapidly evolving contexts in front of them. It’s about much more than the small forums we provide, but I (and suspect everyone in the team) – hope they help.
Thanks again and best wishes for the holidays!