4in10 Newsletter 21st January 2021

Fortnightly Newsletter with News, Data, Calls for Action and More. Click here for issue 21/01/21

Westminster Befriend a Family

Spotlight Interview - Westminster Befriend a Family


  • How are you helping to tackle child poverty in London?

Westminster Befriend a Family (WBAF) enables people to break out of cycles of poverty, and mitigate its impact with the support and accompaniment of trained and supervised volunteers. We runs mentoring programmes for parents and young people in Westminster and the surrounding boroughs.  ‘Mentoring for Mums’ is a programme we’ve just launched, that supports mums of children aged five who are facing challenges and who want to make positive changes in their lives with the support of a volunteer mentor.  With support to build confidence, identify and achieve goals, find the specialist support needed and get unstuck, our programme helps mums into employment and education, as well as providing practical, emotional and social support. Similarly, ‘Broadening Horizons’ our mentoring programme for young people aged 10 – 24 offers regularly one-to-one support on a weekly basis from trained volunteers, with a goal-focused approach to setting aspirations, building connections and reducing loneliness.

  • Share with our members something positive about your organisation’s achievement or service.

With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, since the first lockdown in March 2020, we managed to not only continue our services, but to massively increase our provision, tripling the number of people we supported in the last year as we expanded and introduced new programmes.   We took everything online and after a few lumps and bumps, we’d got into the swing of things by April.  Our brilliant volunteers were the linchpins in our success: they’ve helped us with volunteer recruitment drives, adapting to online working and their commitment to supporting families experiencing challenges has been unstinting, despite difficulties with communication and a hugely unpredictable environment. Because of the trusting relationships they built up, they were able to identify when families needed additional support with food, financial advice or IT equipment, and we were able to rapidly connect them to the right organisations so that their needs were met within days.

  • What can other network members learn from you or find out more about through you?

Our volunteers have their fingers on the pulse of the community – because of the relationships they build up, they often get to hear about problems people might be experiencing before others are aware of them, which means we can respond quickly to individual or collective issues.  With our signposting and referral system, we can make sure people are connected to the right services.  We’re always keen to hear from organisations who support families and young people, so that we can connect them to the support they need, as well as taking referrals from them too.

  • What would most help you achieve your goals?

We’re growing, and we’re always looking for more mentors – compassionate people with time to give, as well as an understanding of the challenges that some disadvantaged parents and young people are managing: Volunteers can apply here! We offer full training and ongoing support and supervision, as well as Tempo Timecredits so you and your mentee can grab a coffee together when you’re able to meet!

  • Why did you join 4in10? What do you enjoy about being part of the 4in10 network?

As a small organisation, we don’t have much capacity to independently engage in policy and advocacy work, but we know that our experiences and the voices we can channel need to be heard.  Being part of the 4in10 network enables us to contribute to the systemic change that tackles the root causes of the challenges that our families and young people face.  The information I get from 4in10 is really relevant for me and helps me stay abreast of a vast and rapidly changing field of research and advocacy so that our programmes and funding applications are well-informed – thank you!


UK Poverty 2020/2021

UK Poverty 2020/2021: Why decisive action from central government matters now more than ever for our low-income London families.

“While we have all been in the same storm, we haven’t all been in the same boat.”- JRF

Reading the latest annual report from Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) we see once again that London has the worst poverty rate within England. Prior to the pandemic low-income families in London were already struggling to make ends meet due to an unfair social security system that failed to protect them from the impact of the high costs of living in London.

This report incorporates pre-pandemic poverty data that reflects the world as we once knew it. It shows that low-income families who were already gripped by the clutches of poverty are the ones being further economically affected by COVID-19.

The JRF polling in May last year showed most low-income families on Universal Credit or working tax credits were forced to go without essentials, falling behind with rent payments and pushed further into debt as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s a damning indictment of our society that those with the least have suffered the most over the past decade and are now being hit hardest once again by the pandemic.” - Helen Barnard, JRF

The report highlights groups that were disproportionately affected; lone parents, who were more likely to be women, low paid and part-time workers, including BAME workers, as well as private and social renters.

All affected were likely employed in the hardest hit sectors (retail, food, accommodation, hospitality) as these jobs did not afford them the benefit of working from home.

For lone parents it was sadly inevitable then, that the lockdown restrictions would have hit them hardest not only because of the sector they work in, but also because of the sudden disruption to their childcare arrangements.

“The government continues to leave decisions on the support available to the worst off in our society to the last minute. It doesn’t have to be this way.” - JRF

It’s clear that central government must act now to alleviate the pressure that low-income families in London face on a daily basis to simply survive. Proactivity on their part is needed to address this unacceptable level of poverty. The report highlights the following solutions:

  1. As many people as possible need to be in good jobs. Retraining opportunities should be made available to diversify employability for those who have lost their jobs.
  2. Earnings for low income working families need to be improved.
  3. The Universal Credit uplift needs to be made permanent.
  4. The benefit system needs to be viewed as a vital public service, rooted in the shared understanding that everyone is entitled to have a decent standard of living.
  5. Low-cost housing provision needs to be increased and the gap between LHA and housing rent needs to be revised for low-income families.

We will continue to push for change in these areas with our network of members, highlighting these very pressing issues affecting the lowest income Londoners – particularly ahead of the budget in March. Join us by talking to your MP and letting them know why you want to see action on child poverty. Click here for all the information you need to take part.

4in10 Newsletter 07.01.2021

For 4in10 fortnightly newsletter with news, information, data, opportunities to influence with a new year feel, please click here.

Resources for Autism

Great Job Opportunity, News, Funding, Reports and More

Dear All

We hope you are well and coping with where we all find ourselves.

You may have seen that sadly, Laura Payne is moving on from 4in10 to a great new post at the end of January. This means we have an exciting new vacancy for our team leader. Can you see yourself running our amazing 4in10 network, championing London's diverse and tireless anti-poverty organisations, maintaining, creating and developing contacts with decision makers and those who influence and inform them while leading a small and diverse team? Do you have excellent people skills and experience of campaigning and collaboration? Job description is here and the closing date is midday on the 18th January. Please do share as widely as you can.

As before a return to full lockdown means the danger of yet another increase in Domestic Violence. This is an updated list of the help available:

From our members and friends:

4in10 and a group of our frontline medical members are planning a Webinar on the impact of poor housing on children's health and safeguarding and what practical steps that can be taken to change this from a health practitioners perspective. The provisional date for this is the 29th March 1 – 2.30. If you feel you have something you would like to contribute please get in touch. More details will be available next month.

Local Authority and Statutory Updates:
Many London Local Authorities have developed an elibrary service. This gives access to online books, magazines, comics, homework help and more. Examples below of what is available from some individual boroughs but do check your own borough's library website for more details:

  • Barnet
  • Brent
  • Croydon
  • Ealing
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Waltham Forest
  • Hounslow have launched a swop shop for residents for children's clothes and toys and have created a way for families to give away items and request things they need. Send an email with the items to give away or needed.
  • The Department of Culture, Media and Sport are hosting webinars on Winning Central Government Contracts and the New Social Value Model from 2pm-4pm, on the 20th January 2021, 3rd February and the 17th March.
  • The Department for Education has confirmed it will go ahead with previously announced plans to increase the number of free laptops and 4G routers made available to disadvantaged children.
  • Ofcom estimates that 9% of children in the UK (between 1.1 million and 1.8 million) do not have access to a laptop, desktop, or tablet at home and that more than 880,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.
  • ONS state that only 51% of households earning between £6,000 and £10,000 have internet access.
  • The DofE also updated their guidance on safeguarding children on the 30th December. It now includes homelessness or potential homelessness as a safeguarding concern and requires public bodies to refer families to a housing authority.
  • GLA have a London Learning from Home resource site for parents and children to access resources and help.
  • London Boroughs Faiths Network, the GLA and London Plus are running the pan-London Volunteering Summit 14th January 1.30 – 3.30. Free and online, this will address ways to support volunteers and volunteering in London.
  • The Prime Minister stated that children eligible for free school meals would now receive supermarket vouchers similar to those provided during the first lockdown and during the summer and Christmas holidays. There is currently no information on how this is to be administered while schools are closed. Check individual local authority websites for updates.

Funding Opportunities:

Very best wishes and as always please keep sharing information with us so we can share on...

Laura, Keisha and Liza

PS: Did you see the Member Spotlight in our last newsletter? Do let us know if you'd like to feature your work here too.