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News > News from the Worthian Network > Working at the heart of a community-anchor charity

Working at the heart of a community-anchor charity

Aaron Barbour B'93 tells us about his work with the Katherine Low Settlement
Aaron (bottom row left) with his staff team
Aaron (bottom row left) with his staff team

It was my time at Worth (1988-93) that got me into charities. I first started volunteering when I was about 14, on a Wednesday afternoon, at a care home close to the School and then a local centre for adults with disabilities up the road in Crawley.

This notion that we should be giving to others struck a chord with me. As I left university, I was clear that I wanted to work with people. And have done so ever since. I’ve worked, volunteered, trusteed, fundraised and campaigned with a number of UK-based charities – most community-focused, a mix of start-ups and those that are well established. I currently run a busy local charity that has been serving Battersea and the wider Wandsworth community since 1924. Katherine Low Settlement is dedicated to building stronger communities and enabling people to challenge and find ways out of poverty and isolation. 

Over the last 97 years we have developed a strong track record of delivering fresh, vibrant and relevant services responsive to the changing needs of local communities. We are the oldest and largest, multi-purpose, community-anchor charity in the area. Directly supporting 3,500+ people, and 45+ local charities and community groups each week, with 200+ amazing volunteers and 35 passionate staff. We run a range of our own community services to support children, young people and their families, older people, women and refugee communities. We campaign for social change. We support other charities to start-up and grow. And we coordinate local partnerships and networks to change local people's lives for the better together.

When the pandemic struck last year, we suspended all of our face-to-face services, sent our staff and volunteers home and closed our community centre. To support our members through these difficult times, we adapted our community services to ‘virtual’ support, given over the phone, online, via post and, where possible on the doorstep, or in parks (though this came later). We’ve since made over 6,700 calls to our most vulnerable elders; delivered 500+ English, Maths and IT classes via Zoom/WhatsApp/Google classrooms; supported our Somali Women's Group via WhatsApp once their children have gone to bed; hosted new Corona Homework Clubs for 200+ refugee young people; posted thousands of art and education packs; and so much more.

Partnerships are key and we’ve also been heavily involved in the wider coordination across Battersea and Wandsworth. This has included helping to set up Battersea Coronavirus Angels - recruiting 450 volunteers and supporting over 700 vulnerable people with shopping, prescriptions and befriending; developed Battersea Alliance Covid19 Grant Fund distributing £100,000 to local community groups; and setting up a 90+ partnership called ‘Wandsworth Digital’ to address digital exclusion across the borough.

If you’d like to make a donation towards our summer programme, that is supporting young people recover from the lockdown, see their friends, get some physical exercise and support their mental health and wellbeing, then please do so here and get it DOUBLED before 15th June

And, if you’re ever in Battersea, come and see us!

Aaron Barbour B'93

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