Film and philanthropy helping to build our local network of supporters Charities need to make their voices heard in order to thrive, and building a strong and diverse network of supporters is one way we can do this We often think of interesting ways to connect with new supporters, using events that pique their interest as an introduction into discussing our work Thanks to the support of our community, we continue to build our profile and raise awareness of the important impact we have on the young people we work with It’s important for local charities like ours to connect with the community – to share our work, raise our profile, and of course, to raise funds. One of the ways we can do this is by thinking differently; how can we engage with like-minded people, what are their other interests, and how can we get our voice heard in a crowded space? Earlier this term, we hosted a private screening of ‘Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War’ at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. The event was co-hosted with our former Trustee and the producer of the film, Sir David Verey, as well as the film’s director, Margy Kinmouth. Margy Kinmouth, film director, talks to guests about why Eric Ravillious was so inspiring and what led her to make the film Over 30 guests who have connections to the local community attended, all of whom were eager not only to watch this critically acclaimed film, but to hear more about West London Zone and the work we do. It was a great way to bring two seemingly different interests together – film and philanthropy – but as a local-based charity with a big story of our own to tell, we felt it was a great fitting. “The evening was a great opportunity to bring together two great interests of mine – Eric Ravillious and West London Zone – and to introduce their stories to new audiences. I imagine the west London in which Eric lived was very different from today but with some features in common; a fascinating place full of artistic opportunity and talent, but unfortunately areas of deep inequality. This is why I share West London Zone’s vision to support children and young people to fulfil their potential, as Eric was able to fulfil his.” Sir David Verey, philanthropist A story that begins in West London There is a synergy with West London Zone and the film’s protagonist, Eric Ravilious, which was highlighted by Joe Prendiville, Director of Business Development, in his speech to guests before the screening. Ravilious was born in Acton, and his working class background led to seemingly few opportunities. However he was encouraged by his maths teacher to pursue art, and was given the chance to study at the Royal College of Arts via a scholarship. He became known for his watercolours of the South Downs, before becoming an esteemed war artist during World War II. An inspirational true story, and reflective of what we try to do at West London Zone – supporting young people to flourish into adulthood. Many of our delivery partners are arts-based organisations, and creativity is often key to unlocking a young person's potential. “What if a child has a talent like Eric, but isn’t pushed to fulfil their potential – what would they need to develop it and make the most of it? This is what we do at West London Zone – we work with children who most need extra support locally, and provide them with the connections, relationships and skills to flourish in adulthood.” Joe Prendiville, Director of Business Development Sir David Verey talked about his interest in both Ravilous and West London Zone, mentioning that Ravilious had actually lived down the road from the theatre for a number of years, while Margy Kinmouth introduced the documentary and spoke of how fascinating she found his story and felt it needed to be told. Sir David Verey, Margy Kinmouth, and Jeremy Irons (left), and guests take their seats before the screening begins (right) How does this help West London Zone? Hosting events is tough, particularly when trying to compete with busy diaries. This is why it’s so important to think differently – in this case by combining the screening of a film that people will be drawn to, with an introductory event for West London Zone. The guests who attended were not yet aware of our work, so it was a great opportunity to engage in an informal setting – and far more effective in the long term. We had meaningful conversations with all of the guests, as well as as an introductory speech which gave a more structured overview of our work. The event has expanded our local networks, who will now be brought into the West London Zone community, helping us to spread the word about what we are doing. Building a local community of supporters Being a local, community-focused organisation means that a big part of our fundraising comes from generous people who live in our ‘zone’ and who are inspired by our mission – to ensure all children in West London have the opportunities to achieve their potential. Our events therefore need to reflect this in both themes and venues; again, we must think differently if we are to be noticed. West London Zone team at a recent event, ready to talk to guests about the work we do for young people in the local community Past events have included a 12-course tuna omakase at the Notting Hill Fish and Meat Shop, with a menu curated by head chef Juan Cardona – the highlight being the carving of a 200kg Bluefin tuna. We also hosted a fine whisky tasting at The Walmer Castle pub, and more recently hosted a record-breaking fundraising event at the Princess Royal in Notting Hill, giving away signed copies of acclaimed chef Ben Tish’s new cookbook, along with food sampling from local artisan food producers. All of these venues have become important supporters of ours and are local legends in the West London community. By having these events at well known local landmarks we hope to reinforce our focus on community and also encourage individuals to support their neighbours. West London Zone CEO Louisa Mitchell talks to guests at the Princess Royal event, September 2022 We cannot do it alone Some of our biggest champions are local and influential community champions, who support our work in many ways, from philanthropy to fundraising ideas to introducing us to local networks and venues – all of which open up opportunities to raise awareness of our work. To return to Eric Ravillious and his inspirational story, we would like to say thanks to all who attended, and to Sir David Verey and all of our supporters for enabling us to continue impacting the young people we work with, so that they may too, realise their potential and lead fulfilling lives.