06 Feb

I will show [you] what a woman can do!

WLAC supporter Letizia Treves is the curator of the first ever exhibition of Artermisia Gentileschi’s work ever to be held in the UK. The exhibition will open at The National Gallery in early April.

Letizia kindly gave a fascinating lecture about Artemesia’s life and work to an audience of our supporters. Daughter, wife, mother, lover, painter: Letizia explained how Artemisia challenged conventions to become a famous artist and one of the greatest storytellers of her time.

Grazie mille to Meg Kaufman for organising the event, Letizia for sharing her expert knowledge and enthusiasm with us, St Paul’s Girls School for hosting us and Bective Leslie Marsh for sponsoring the refreshments.

And thank you to everyone who came. Together we raised over £1,900.

29 Jan

Iron Age Mexican Eggs…

Intrigued? So was I. Meet fantasy author Angus Watson, to find out more.

Angus is a neighbour of Councillor Belinda Donovan, one of our long-standing supporters and volunteers. Belinda asked Angus to donate his signature Mexican Iron Age Eggs recipe for The West London Cookbook, which we are selling to raise awareness and funds for WLAC.

I first met Angus at the Cookbook launch event last September. I was standing at the back by the door because I didn’t want it to squeak and distract from the speeches. He and his wife were sneaking out early because they needed to get back for the babysitter. As they were leaving, Angus handed the copy of the Cookbook that he had bought back to me.

‘That’s a bit odd,’ I thought.

Having heard more about the charity’s work with local families, I want to give this one back and buy five instead,’ he said. ‘And please can you put me on your charity mailing list?’ Then he gave me his business card.

I immediately recognised Angus’s name from the Cookbook.

‘Iron Age Mexican Eggs?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘Page 54’.

Is there anything else I can do to help WLAC?’

‘Erm….may I interview you for our newsletter?’ I asked. ‘Yes of course,’ he said immediately, ‘Anything to help.’

We met again a few weeks later for coffee.

I explained that I wanted to find out more about why he is supporting West London Action for Children. And also the backstory to the Eggs.

Angus told me he doesn’t actually enjoy cooking very much. He likes this recipe because it requires minimal effort but looks pretty spectacular and goes down well with all the family. Sounds like my kind of recipe!

What Angus loves is writing. ‘When you cook, what you’ve spent all that time making just gets eaten,’ he explained. ‘When you write, there is a book at the end of it.’

So why Iron Age historical fantasy novels?

Angus said he was lucky to have had lots of fascinating assignments as a freelance writer and journalist, back when newspapers were prepared to invest in such things. He went looking for Bigfoot in the USA for the Telegraph and was sent diving on the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow for the Financial Times. He even found himself swimming with sea lions off the Galapagos Islands for the Times.

These adventures fed his curiosity and fuelled his imagination.

But it was actually closer to home, whilst researching British hill forts for the Telegraph that he decided to write fantasy novels set in the Iron Age.

‘I have become fascinated by the mystery surrounding those times. I enjoy making up a history’.

As a mother of two teenage boys, I am always on the lookout for books that might appeal to them. However, Angus warned me that his are very much written for a grownup audience. Perhaps one for my bookclub then…

So, apart from being Belinda’s neighbour, why does Angus support WLAC?

First and foremost, because he is a parent.

Angus says he knows how challenging parenting and family life can be, even if you are lucky enough to have had a secure and stable upbringing yourself, strong family support and reasonable finances. He also talked about how having your own children changes something within you and makes you look at the world differently. He wants to help children and other families who are in tough circumstances.

Angus also knows how profound and lasting the impact of early intervention therapy and counselling can be. He says that his eldest godchild who has special needs and her family have received incredibly valuable support from WLAC to help them cope with the particular challenges they face. Angus talked about about how cuts to mainstream services have significantly impacted on families like theirs and how they have to ‘fight’ for the support and resourcing they need.

Angus wants to do more to support WLAC and our work so that we can help more families.

Thank you for supporting WLAC. Together we are making a difference.

Click here to order your copy of The West London Cookbook and find out how to make Iron Age Mexican Eggs (page 54).

Or maybe buy five like Angus did. And give four to friends and neighbours and start conversations about WLAC and how we are making a difference.

13 Sep

The West London Cookbook has arrived!

Our second cookbook is complete: a collection of recipes from restaurant, chefs and foodies in West London. Featuring mouth-watering starters, main courses and puddings from popular eateries such as the River Café, the Anglesea Arms and The Bluebird Chelsea; as well as well-known local residents such as Colin Firth, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and John Le Carré.

To order a copy from 23rd September, please donate (suggested amount £10) using the link below. Please ensure you use the reference ‘Cookbook’ and leave your name and postal address when given the option to ‘add a message of support’ to your donation.

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/cookbook

Thank you.

20 Mar

Meet a volunteer…

Brian Huckett moved to Brook Green over 20 years ago. At a Christmas party he heard about WLAC and has been a supporter ever since. For the past five years, he has been volunteering as the Treasurer for the Brook Green Events Group.
Why do you support WLAC?
I support WLAC because it is a small, local charity which I feel is doing a worthwhile job with limited resources, efficiently applied. It is very transparent.
Heather (the CEO) and her personal dedication are great motivating factors. She has given a great deal of her life to the charity and its work. She is completely genuine.
And I have great faith in the power of talking therapies. The WLAC case studies show how therapy helps children and families who face the most incredible challenges. I always read the examples in the annual review. Also, I have personal experience of how therapy can help you cope and move forward in the most difficult times.
What do you do as Brook Green Events Group Treasurer?
We are lucky to have an excellent group of fundraisers who are very experienced at running events. I have a project management background so I enjoy helping behind the scenes so that that we know exactly who is attending our events, table allocations etc and of course keeping track of all the donations and ensuring that they reach their intended destination – WLAC’s bank account!
What has been your experience of volunteering for WLAC?
This is my first experience of being closely involved in a charity. It is quite different to the corporate world; there are no apparent power struggles or internal politics. Everyone is completely committed to the cause and pulling in the same direction.
WLAC has a low-cost administrative set-up. I can see that. Sometimes it can be frustrating. But they focus their resources on delivering therapy to clients. And that is where it should be.
What do you wish other people knew about WLAC?
That it exists! WLAC does such tremendous work and it is so important. They deserve to have a higher profile.
I also think that WLAC could encourage more of its supporters to become regular donors. The centenary campaign prompted me to set up a direct debit. Hopefully more supporters will do this so that WLAC can plan ahead and help more families.
28 Feb

Lightning Talks No.4

Thank you to our Trustee Meg Kaufman for organising our fourth Lightning Talks event kindly hosted by Vas and Rupert Ticehurst-James at their Chiswick home on 28th February.

It was another fascinating line-up of quick talks by local experts covering a wide range of topics; Emery Walker, Free Association, Keeping Carnival Safe, Job Satisfaction and How Walking Can Save Your Life.

It was also a chance for Meg to talk about WLAC and raise awareness about our work.

Thank you to everyone who supported the event.

26 Feb

Case Study: Ghosts in the Nursery

“In every nursery there are ghosts.

They are the visitors from the unremembered past of the parents, the uninvited guests at the christening…”

Parent-infant psychotherapist Yvonne Osafo works for WLAC. She presented this case study to the Trustees in February. It illustrates how she is helping one of WLAC’s clients to ‘evict’ ghosts from her nursery.

Collette (not her real name) was plagued by many ghosts from her past. Her own parents had suffered trauma before she was even conceived and Collette and her siblings were all taken into foster care. Whilst in care, Collette ran away many times and engaged in promiscuity. As an adult she was a victim of domestic violence and both of her own children were taken into care.

Collette was referred to WLAC by a domestic violence organisation when she was about 7 months pregnant with her third child. I met with Collette and her social worker. The social worker made it clear that it was his intention to take the baby into care straight after the birth. However, Collette wanted to fight for her baby. She said she was keen to accept every possible help in order to become a good mother. She engaged eagerly and attended regular sessions of parent-infant psychotherapy.

The initial focus of our therapy was to prepare Collette to fall in love with her baby even before she was born. This involved helping her to imagine what baby would be like and to make plans for her, preparing her to greet her baby and capture the first gaze. After the baby’s birth, the aim was to focus on the bond and the parent-infant relationship.

Collette went to court soon after the birth of her baby. The social worker was still making the case that mother and baby should be separated because of what had happened in the past.

I could see enough good evidence that with the right support, Collette could care for her child. I wrote to the court about Collette’s positive engagement in therapy and suggested that mother and baby should remain together with support. In my view this was in the best interests of the baby. The judge listened and ordered that Collette and her baby should be placed in a foster home.

This did not work out. Back at court, the judge said nevertheless, there had been improvement and that mother and baby should stay together. So they were placed in a mother and baby unit. Our therapy continued. Collette also had ‘Video Interaction Guidance’ support from the Tavistock Clinic. This involves using video feedback to help parents become more sensitive and attuned to their child’s emotional needs.

Collette and her baby thrived. The ‘scaffolding’ in place gave her the support she needed to look after her baby. The unit provided structure for her days with a simple timetable of activities. She knew that she was not alone. She had people she could trust to turn to for advice and support.

Collette is now back in her flat with her baby. The support work continues. At her weekly therapy sessions I have seen her grow in confidence and learn to think independently.

But the ghosts have not yet departed

In order to evict the ghosts from Collette’s nursery it is necessary to help her to revisit her early traumatic experiences, to recognise influences from her own past and to link them to her current functioning. That is how we can facilitate new paths for growth and development for her and her child. This is now the focus of our work together.

Collette is remembering her past: the abuse, the loss, the abandonment and the loneliness. She apologises frequently as she remembers the gruesomeness of her past. She is linking this with her current experience with her baby. She is committed to being the best mother she can be.

The work continues.