2021: What a Year

2021: What a Year

 Thu, December 23, 2021

It's the end of 2021, and before we kickstart into the New year, it's time to reflect on the past year, the challenges our community has overcome and our success along the way.

Like the rest of the UK, we began the year in lockdown, tailoring how we work and the services we provide to ensure that we could continue to give our local community the vital support it needed.

Our AgeActivity60+ team worked flat out, making hundreds of outreach calls to our older members and residents, providing support and companionship. In addition, we restarted our online Zoom sessions, delivering a vast selection of activities, including Chi Kung, Yoga, Tai Chi, Ballroom & Line Dancing, Choir, Arts & Crafts and Coffee Mornings.

This comment from one of our members highlights the impact these sessions have, "I do not know what I would have done without Zoom classes on the internet. For one thing, having a class at a fixed time gives a structure to the day, and even if you don't talk to anyone directly during the class, you feel like you've seen people and been involved."

We hosted 377 online activities for our older members and several sessions for the whole community such as gardening Zoomshops; Houseplant Hospital, Propagation workshops and tips for growing vegetables at home.

Our community park remained open during lockdown, providing a space to exercise and connect with nature. This could not happen without our fantastic team of gardening volunteers, who day in and day out give up their time picking up litter, maintaining the grass, trees and flowers for the whole community to enjoy. Our volunteers do a brilliant job, and we couldn't keep our gardens looking so lovely if they were not on hand to help us out!

In April, with restrictions easing, we reopened our centre and delivered many classes in our centre and virtually via Zoom. We worked hard to ensure that our centre was Covid safe, implementing track & trace systems and providing masks and hand sanitiser. Our main building even had a little makeover making it more accessible and recgnosiable.

With the arrival of summer and the lifting of Covid restrictions, our centre transformed into a vibrant hub of activity. We said goodbye to some old faces and welcomed new volunteers and staff to the team. The Outside Project used our community park to mark the Stonewall riots' anniversary and celebrate Pride Month for their annual sober picnic event, Outsider Pride. Our collaboration with Kentish Town and Highgate Newtown Community Centres, Youth Hub ran three weeks of free activities for 12-16 yr olds in our centre and we delivered a four-week summer program for 8-13yr olds designed to increase their skills, confidence and health.

Sessions included Football, Martial Arts, Police Cadets, Chess, Street Dance, African Drumming, Drama, Gardening and cooking in our cob oven. Around 80 children attended our summer programme with many parents expressing how much their children enjoyed the activities. One of the parents said that their child had learnt "lots of skills which helped them to improve their concentration to finish their homework as well as their general physical and mental wellbeing."

From September to November, the leaves in our community park transformed into gorgeous hues of red, orange & gold before falling and providing us with lots of work to clear the leaves. Luckily we had some help from some brilliant companies whose teams were on hand to help us clear the leaves and depave a large area in our park. This was part of a larger project as part of the Mayor of London Grow Back Greener Fund to increase biodiversity, provide draining solutions and improve the air pollution in our community park. In addition, we planted thousands of wildflowers seeds and bulbs with the help of regular volunteers from our ‘Wednesday gardening Sessions,’ and the local community and the children from Hawley Primary School. We can’t wait to see the wildflowers bloom in 2022.

Throughout the year our incredible food bank volunteers have packed 1827 food parcels, providing 6692 local families and individuals with enough food to last a week. Despite beginning as a response to the pandemic, the demand for our food bank has continued to increase. We want to thank everyone who has donated their time, money and produce to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry. If you would like to provide a lifeline to local people in 2022, please donate to our food bank here.

As 2021 came to a close, The Castlehaven team and volunteers were busy organising festive trips for our older members and preparing for our annual festive extravaganza, #WinterFEST. After last year's event being online, we were so excited to have the event in person. On the 10th December, over 400 members of the community sang carols, admired the Donkeys from Kentish Town City Farm, watched brilliant performances from our Ageactivity team and enjoyed delicious food and drink from our vast array of stalls. We also received a special visit from Santa, who handed out presents to over 100 children in our magical grotto. The event raised an incredible £725.75, which our food bank will spend to distribute food to the local community. Click here to see WinterFEST's highlights.

What a year! We're so proud of everything Castlehaven has achieved, but none of this can be accomplished alone. Thank you to our fantastic team, volunteers, trustees, donors, our fantastic funders at The National Lottery Community Fund, BBC Children In Need, City Bridge Trust, Fairstead Trust, Mayor of London, Camden Council and YOU for ensuring that we continue to deliver our vital services and activities. We wish you a happy New Year and look forward to all the wonderful things we can achieve together in 2022.

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