Hammersmith Reflections – Our retiring Chairman, Mike Smith, reflects on 12 years as a trustee

It’s become a tradition at Hammersmith United Charities that retiring trustees are invited to share their reflections on their time at the charity at their final board meeting.

It’s one of the ways in which we try to maintain an “institutional memory” and maximise the benefit of our experience and history – which now stretches to more than 400 years.

So what did I want to pick out as the most important things I’d learnt in my 12 years on the board? The first thought I wanted to share was that our rule that says trustees must retire after 12 years is a good one. We’ve benefitted enormously from continuously bringing in as trustees new people with different perspectives, experience and skills. And I’m very confident that I leave the charity in good hands, with a team of able and dedicated people, who are also a diverse group, not just in visible ways, but also in the way they think about and respond to the problems and opportunities that arise. 

As someone whose professional background is accountancy, naturally I wanted to talk about the risks we face and how we manage them! But my views on that might not have been what people expected. We live in an age when pundits and the media are only too eager to tell us what might go wrong, and it would be easy to be paralysed by fear of all the external threats we hear about – Brexit, international trade tensions, terrorism, climate change, and all the rest. But a look at the history of our charity since its foundation in 1618 shows just how resilient it’s been to events much more traumatic than anything current trustees have lived through – HUC has survived the English Civil War, plague, two World Wars, and no doubt many other crises that only historians remember.

So, while being aware of the risks, and doing what we can to mitigate them, we have to recognise that the future is largely outside our control; our task is to concentrate on the specific areas where we can make a difference and improve people’s lives. We will make mistakes from time to time, of course, but the greatest mistake would be to attempt less than we’re capable of.

We have made ambitious changes over the last decade or so, expanding and improving our sheltered housing, developing our grants programme, and working with our sister charity in Fulham to establish United in Hammersmith & Fulham, a new charity aiming to help local people and organisations to make this an even better place to live. We must continue to be ambitious, because despite the great improvement in living standards since the middle of the twentieth century, there are still many people in need.

The last thing I had to say to my fellow trustees was to thank them for making it so enjoyable to work alongside them. Being a trustee has sometimes been hard work, occasionally a little stressful, but always rewarding. It has been a great privilege to play a small part in an organisation which has been helping Hammersmith people for so many years.

Mike Smith

Hammersmith Reflections – Our retiring Chairman, Mike Smith, reflects on 12 years as a trustee

It’s become a tradition at Hammersmith United Charities that retiring trustees are invited to share their reflections on their time at the charity at their final board meeting. (more…)

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Hammersmith Reflection – Artists in Residence

Encouraging creativity and participation in the arts is an important part of our work at Hammersmith United Charities. Cultural events help to improve wellbeing,  remove barriers to social inclusion and contribute to safer and stronger communities.

In June 2019,  we held “Artists in Residence”, an exhibition of work by local artists, including residents of our sheltered housing at John Betts House and Sycamore House. The exhibition was part of HF ArtsFest, an annual platform to celebrate the exceptional artists living in the borough, and we were proud to showcase the breadth of talent within the residents of our Almshouses and enable members of our local community to display their work.

The exhibition was kindly opened by Andy Slaughter MP at a fun evening at Pekoe Mellow Tea House jam packed with our friends and neighbours.

We are very grateful to the artists who allowed us to exhibit their work: Bill Forbes Hamilton, Bryan Payne and Pat Carey-Willis from John Betts House; Betty Dwyer and Joan Hurrell from Sycamore House; Carey Whitley, Dickon Reed and Jamik Wilkins from the Grove Neighbourhood Folk Art Group and local artist Layne Wyatt  Thank you also to Zena Zialor for photographing the opening night, our colleague Nora Laraki for curating the artworks and everyone who attended the exhibition.

Many of the artists have enjoyed attending the Grove Neighbourhood Fold Art Group run by Rachel Leach, a project supported by Hammersmith United Charities. Everybody is welcome regardless of their experience so if you think you could be Hammersmith’s next Picasso please take a look!    

For more photos, click here.

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Hammersmith Reflections – photojournalist Cinzia D’Ambrosi and her work for the local community

I am an independent award winning photojournalist, local resident, founder of the Photojournalism Hub. My passion and drive is to expose social justice issues through photo stories for these to be of leverage and/or of a conduit for action and change. Some of the projects I have been working on, have been exposing the plight of miners in illegal coal mines in China, the hidden homelessness in the UK with a particular focus on women and their children, police violence against refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Through my career, I developed many collaborations with NGO’s and charities, including international campaigns with Amnesty International and Protection Approaches, Shelter in the UK. These have shaped the Photojournalism Hub’ aims. The value of connecting photojournalism to effective change and to promote photojournalism work is very important to me. Photojournalism exposes issues, raises awareness and importantly can bring about changes and recommendations in legislations, public opinion and indeed calls for action. The Photojournalism Hub is born out of these aspirations: it presents photo stories needed to be told and it has a programme that focuses on working together with communities and charities to find solutions, advocacy and exposure. Since its launch last November, the Photojournalism Hub has received an amazing support, interest and engagement from the wide public and local communities in our Talk Events, Photojournalism Nights, Open Forums and Workshops and from local organisations such as Imperial College, Hammersmith United Charities, White City Place, Petit Miracles, Stanhope, Elephant West, HFArts Fest, Re:Centre, Lido Foundation and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

THE OPEN FORUMS – WORKING TOGETHER FOR SOLUTION MAKING

The Open Forums are open conversations with different communities. The idea is born from wanting to change the way we engage on social justice issues. Often, we assume that ‘we’ know what is happening to a community, instead of getting to know what is really happening. Conversations are just the first steps; a valuable way to share knowledge and in future deliver what is really needed. From the Open Forums, Photojournalism Hub creates a shareable resource content and further develops a photography based programme that addresses the issues being raised. Sometimes ideas, however beautiful, can just remain as such unless tried and tested. That the Open Forums are being well received is very important to me and I am grateful to Hammersmith United Charities for supporting them and trusting in their value in our communities.

PHOTOJOURNALISM NIGHTS, TALK EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS

I am sharing below some keystone moments in photographs. The opening was marked by a meaningful talk by Andy Slaughter on the power of photojournalism. Since the launch, the Photojournalism Hub has presented talks on picturing community engagement with participatory photography and collaborative practices, on photojournalism today, and on domestic violence and masculinities. We have organised and presented the first Photojournalism Nights at the Elephant west gallery and we have been invited to be a partner of this year’s HF-Arts festival in which we presented a curated photography exhibition Marginal at Re:centre gallery. We deliver photography workshops at low costs and we are about to begin free photography workshops for Somali young people in collaboration with Lido Foundation and Petit Miracles.

Rob Pinney presenting his project ‘Calais, ma ville’
Ingrid Guyon discussing participatory photography at Picturing Community Engagement talk @ White City Place
Discussing photojournalism aims at Imperial College Talk event
A moment during a Photography Workshop @ Petit Miracles

It has been a milestone to present some of today’s courageous, committed photojournalism work in White City. Photojournalism deserves ample space as a form that engages, exposes and initiates actions for change. If you wish to get to know more about the Photojournalism Hub work, I would like to encourage you to sign up to our newsletter on www.photojournalismhub.org or follow us on social media: @PJ_Hub; #photojournalism_hub; Fb: Photojournalismhub

June 2019
Cinzia D’Ambrosi

 

 

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Grants Awarded May 2019

We are delighted to announce our new grantees for May 2019. We give grants to local organisations supporting local people and this year we have increased the total value of grants available to £400,000 to mark 400 years of supporting the people of Hammersmith. The next deadline for grant applications is 2 October 2019. If you’ve got a great idea then we’d love to hear from you at grants@hamunitedcharities.com

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