First things first, what's your name?
What charity do you work for?
And what's your role at Solidarity Sports, Kat?
Which causes does Solidarity Sports support and what sort of work do you do?
We believe every child deserves happiness. For 15 years, we have supported children in West London who have experienced trauma and who face huge economic and social barriers to inclusion.
95% of referrals made to us come from Social Services and refugees. Our children are affected by abuse, bereavement, displacement, neglect, abandonment, Special Educational Needs and childhood obesity.
More recently, we’ve been caring for a large number of child refugees and asylum seekers, running trips with Afghan refugees 3x per week.
We run activities during every school holiday, ranging from trips to adventure centres, trampolining and rock climbing to sports like football and tennis, as well as arts and crafts. Our unique model relies on a 1 adult to 2 children ratio - allowing each child to receive undivided adult attention and care.
Alongside school holiday projects, we deliver mentoring throughout the year for children with complex needs. Weekly mentoring provides crucial respite for the child and their family, with our support often deescalating cases with Social Services.
We also run after school projects, healthy eating programmes, cooking classes for refugees and holistic family support.
What sort of things do you use donations for?
Every donation is crucial to sustain our work. Donations are used on trips, equipment, booking venues, healthy lunches for children and our well-being coaches - who are amazing at what they do! Fortunately, we are very resourceful, which means our overheads are super low. For example, we do not pay office rent and we negotiate discounts often, allowing funds to be spent where they are most valuable. We are very lucky to be supported by a small number of private donors, which also helps cover permanent staff costs, diverting donations to be spent on our children.
What have you worked on that you're most proud of?
Last year I started working with one of our families that Social Services were really concerned about. I began working with a child who was very overweight, had poor health and there were complex issues at home.
Along with my colleagues, we devised a tailored programme that involved mentoring throughout the week and a healthy eating guide to help with his weight. I visited their home weekly and we cooked healthy dinners together, which encouraged positive family bonding. I was so happy to see the child develop a healthier relationship with food and the wider effect it had on the entire family.
It's a privilege to be able to work so closely with our children and their families - they are all very special to me.
What are the biggest challenges still to overcome?
I think there is still a lot of uncertainty post-Covid for charities, as we saw so many sadly collapse during 2020. One of the biggest challenges is sustainability and ensuring we have the financial controls in place to ensure we're still here in the next 5, 10 and 20 years! With that comes being adaptable, forward thinking and making sure we continue to meet the needs of our children and their families.
Other than donating, what’s the one thing people can do to support your charity and its mission?
A really valuable way to support us is simply by sharing what we do on social media. We are active on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and have seen how social media can truly be a force for good for small charities like ours.
People can also join us as volunteers on our projects or in a professional capacity. There's nothing more rewarding than spending the day with our children on a trip out in London. For this, we run training and also carry out an Enhanced DBS check.