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Interview: Celebrating with Community Focus

It's the first day of Small Charities Week and we're celebrating our member Community Focus. In this interview we will find out about the great work they do, the challenges they face and how you can get involved.

Tell us about your organisation and why the work you are doing is so important?

Community Focus is an inclusive multi-arts centre based in Friary House, nestled within Barnet’s finest park: Friary Park, North London.

We work to encourage all members of our community to participate in the arts, to gain confidence in their own creativity and to challenge any barriers that they may face through integration, innovation and inclusion.

Our mission is to proactively improve the quality of life of all our members through an artistic programme of regular workshop sessions and short & long term outreach projects. Through a range of artistic mediums, Community Focus reaches out to people facing disadvantage in their daily lives.

Established in 1978, we have an excellent track record of providing high quality participatory projects in visual, performing and digital arts, delivering projects for funders including The London Borough of Barnet, Trusts and Foundations and individuals.

We offer 4 key programmes of delivery:

  • ARTiculate – our flagship project aimed at 16-25 years olds aims to improve mental health and well-being.

  • Shortbreaks – for young people with supportive needs aged 11-19 olds; delivered during holidays and at weekends; providing respite for parents and carers.

  • In house creative workshops - for people of all abilities (mainly adults with supportive needs).

  • Outreach projects – for older people with dementia and to help those at risk of isolation..

Our ethos is that regardless of ability we believe in creative excellence for all.

ARTiculate workshops based on identity themes

2.What are your biggest challenges currently?

Community Focus is a fully independent charity which means we do not receive ‘core’ funding. When securing funding for a project we find that the duration is usually for anywhere between 6 months -3 years. After this time period the funding stops and like many other charities do not draw upon core funding which leaves us rather vulnerable at times.

3.If you could change one thing what would it be?

Organisations like ours have held a unique position within our communities; staff are under paid, security is fragile but the delivery is potent! When you know that the organisation you work with changes lives, and you see the direct journey of your students with disabilities which can be physical or a learning disability or perhaps a mental health issue –we have seen our clients grow and metamorphose into confident individuals ready for the world and all it can bring.

The change I would bring would be to devise a system which can help ensure providers like ours can focus their energies on delivery rather than expending too much in the way of time and resources on covering overheads.

4. Let us know something cool or beneficial of being a YBF member?

YBF and Community Focus share a similar ethos – which is that we are stronger if we work together. We value partnerships and collaborations and are delighted that YBF do to. YBF continuously support us in our endeavours and we know that if we need support we can always count on Janet and her superb team. We work with other YBF members on a regular basis; collaborating on exciting programmes projects.

YBF are a real asset to our community and we look very forward to what the future brings.

5. How can people reading this interview get more involved with your organisation and help you make even more of a difference?

We thrive on new ideas; community engagement and partnership building. If our readers have an idea which involves the arts and our community then please get in touch and we can see if we can find a way to make it happen. We also welcome new volunteers and talented tutors to ensure our offer is fresh, innovative and effective. You will be surprised how effective just one person can be if they are able to offer a little time and support to front line delivering organisations like ours.

If you would like to know more about us please visit our website or pop in to see us at Friary Park.

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