1st Year as CEO

1st Year as CEO

 Tue, February 04, 2020

Wow, 2019 was a year of change for Castlehaven! Firstly, I was extremely proud to become the second CEO of Castlehaven, after its founder Eleanor Botwright retired in May 2019. And since then we haven’t stopped changing! We changed our logo, re-landscaped our community park, laid new astro-turf on to our sports pitches and refurbished our beloved community centre.

Through the year Castlehaven have worked closely with local police and community safety teams to help relieve the drug dealing and antisocial behavior that happens within our community parks. We recently held a well-attended public meeting so local people could raise concerns with the heads of the Camden MET Police, Camden Councilors and Community Safety Department Officers.

During 2019 we hosted several community events including The Big Reveal of our refurbished Community Centre. 120 local people came along to see all the changes we made and to find out what we have on offer here, it was a great success.

Our environmental project collaborated with Camden Mind to host Give it a Grow, a wellbeing & mental health bulb planting event.  Attendees engaged in a fascinating debate regarding mental health, suggesting actions Castlehaven could take to improve the wellbeing of local residents.

2019 saw numerous family events including a picnic & games in the park, a colour run and treasure hunt around Camden Market. We also held our 2nd WinterFEST, where over 500 people attended and enjoyed all that was on offer including gift stalls, tasty food & drinks, Father Christmas Grotto and Zorb-balling. We were entertained by our Sing Up Sing Out Community Choir, MVF Global Choir and Alex from Loud & Queerly. Not forgetting our mince pie eating competition that has had over 52,000 views on social media thanks to the Met Police sharing the post on all their platforms.

The weekly hub partnership with the LGBTIQ+ group The Outside Project has gone from strength to strength.  Together we held Camden’s second homeless LGBTIQ+ Christmas Day event at the Community Centre, opening our doors to over 50 people for a free festive lunch. It has been incredibly rewarding meeting so many inspiring people at these community events.

Our Active Families & Young People’s project worked with hundreds of individuals, organising termly afterschool sessions including chess and Lego clubs, healthy cooking and Arts & Crafts for all the family to enjoy. We provided numerous sports sessions including boxing, martial arts, tag rugby and dodge ball. We gave 1 to 1 support with homework and writing CV’s. And many young people attended our free football training sessions on Mondays and Saturdays. We held a summer drama workshop for young people to work with Black Arts Production, where they gained skills in script writing, performance and stage management. And in partnership with Kentish Town Community Centre we produced a powerful short film called Voices not Violence based on interviews with local young people. This film will be screened and used at the Camden Youth Safety Week event in Feb 2020.

The Ageactivity 60+ project provided a vast array of activities for its members, including trips in and out of London, bi-monthly walks, monthly talks and information coffee mornings. Not to mention the huge selection of classes they have on offer throughout the year including Circuit Training, Chi Kung, Yoga, Tai Chi, Ballroom & Line Dancing, Choir, Chinese Language Classes, Arts & Crafts, Music Appreciation, History Club and a Men’s Club. Plus, monthly birthday parties and a soup club! The members also volunteer their time by reading to children in local schools, gardening in our parks, helping at our festivals, managing walks and running classes too! They’re certainly not bored here!

Our Environmental Project has flourished in our Horticulture Hub and Community Park with a packed diary of weekly Wellness Workshops and Crafty Gardeners sessions; Get Fit, Get Active, Get Gardening volunteering days, and our great Fresh Fridays fruit & veg shop. We have held many one-off events such as our popular wreath making workshop. Let’s not forget our regular gardening volunteers who keep our community parks and hub in tip top condition with general gardening and litter picking, which sadly includes picking up dog poo that irresponsible dog owners leave behind! Our volunteers do an amazing job and we couldn’t keep our parks looking so pristine if they were not on hand to help us out!

We’ve worked with a number of companies who’ve sent along teams of willing volunteers to help us do a number of tasks around our community campus, such as leaf clearing, weeding, wrapping Santa’s gifts, baking cakes, teaching older people how to use mobile phones and tablets, having a friendly football match against adults with learning disabilities, and holding a general knowledge quiz with older people! Lots of fun had by all and great ways for these individuals to get involved here at Castlehaven.

2020 will be a challenging year for our small charity, fundraising will be hard, however there is positive change on the horizon as we will be welcoming back weekly youth club sessions (April onwards), that will include free first aid training, martial arts and IAG for young people; a girls football club and summer workshops for young people. Other ambitions include SummerFEST and more integrated work with BAME and LGBTIQ+ communities. Check our website or social media posts for updates on these!

I’d like to personally thank our staff team, volunteers and trustees who are backbone of Castlehaven, especially through 2019, for their patience, resilience and hard work, I don’t know where Castlehaven would be without you! I’d also like to thank the local community, stakeholders and funders who have got involved, challenged us and helped us to evolve. Without all of you there would not be a Castlehaven!

One question – What activity, workshop or event would you like on offer at Castlehaven in 2020?

Roll on 2020! Let’s make it a gooden!

Tricia Richards, Castlehaven CEO

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