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West London Zone

Fund manager - Bridge Fund Management

West London Zone works with local schools to find the children who might benefit the most from its two-year development programme.

  • 20% Percentage of children in West London Zone catchment at risk of negative outcomes in adulthood
  • 732 Number of children supported through the outcomes contract
  • 100 Number of families helped with access to foodbanks by WLZ during the pandemic

Challenge

In England, 20% of children leave school with no basic numeracy or literacy skills. This is far more likely to affect young people from poorer families, and they leave school with substantially lower levels of educational attainment than their better-off peers. They are also more likely to experience behavioural and emotional problems at an early age. On Harrow Road in West London, this reality is all too clear – pockets of deep poverty exist side-by-side with some of the world’s wealthiest communities.

Approach

West London Zone (WLZ) works with local schools to find the children who might benefit the most from its two-year development programme. Once on the programme, children are connected to a Link Worker, who bases themselves at the child’s school and engages with them throughout each day. ​Together, they set personal development goals that enable them to make progress in their confidence, relationships, and academic achievement. Where needed, WLZ uses local charity resources to support the child in achieving their goals.​

WLZ is an outcomes-based contract and is the first programme in the UK to be structured as a ‘collective impact bond’. The commissioners (Government, local schools, councils and philanthropists) only pay for measurable improvements in the lives of young people. The target outcome is an improvement in overall wellbeing, and – where relevant – sustained employment or education. ​Bridges Fund Management supported the initiative through its £25 million Social Impact Bond Fund, into which Big Society Capital invested £10 million.

Impact

WLZ works with 732 children in schools throughout Brent, the City of Westminster, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Its latest results show that, after two years in the programme, 80% of participants report an improvement in their wellbeing (the metrics measured include mental health, relationships, confidence and aspiration).​

Responding to COVID-19

WLZ has rapidly reshaped its provision in response to COVID-19. As well as supporting the children who are still attending school, the team now also provides remote support online.​ On average, Link Workers are now interacting with each child four times a week (up from one or two previously), while WLZ has helped almost 100 families access foodbanks. It’s also provided resources to more than 60 families, including tablets that enable remote learning.