Bringing confidence back to the community
22 Jun 2021
Michael Jonathan explains how a grassroots, community-led organisation responded to a lack of childcare services and created Hope Amplified.
Hope Amplified is a community-led organisation. We work to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families in three council areas – Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire – ensuring that they are given every possible chance to meet their full potential and participate fully in society.
We started in 2010 and at that time we were not registered as a charitable organisation. Initially we were offering supplementary education. It’s not so common here, but very common in England, where we were offering help after school, including support in sciences, mathematics and English. So all of us came together to help the young people in our community, and we were also organising a few events.
Tom Harris, then Labour MP for Glasgow South, attended one of our programme events and said we were doing a great job. He asked us how we were funded, and at that point we weren’t funded at all, so he told us we had to register as a charity. He told us about Big Lottery funding and that’s how we really started.
We became a charitable organisation on 20 September 2013. At the moment we have five people working for Hope Amplified and we have about 12 volunteers across our services. We train volunteers to become staff members, who will also become part of the management committee because they understand the community and have that lived experience. We are now one of the biggest charitable organisations engaging with the African community, particularly young people, in this part of Scotland.
Through the Access to Childcare Fund (click here to learn more), funded by Scottish Government and managed by Children in Scotland, we were awarded funding to create more services for young people. We knew that many in our community didn’t have access to childcare. I remember when I was a student doing my master’s degree in risk management, I had to register with an organisation for childcare for my son and I was put on a waiting list. And it’s still a problem now; there just aren’t the spaces.
The Koinonia Project, ‘Koinonia’ from the Greek word meaning ‘joint participation’, is our response to a lack of childcare assets in our area and no youth clubs for our community. On Monday evenings, we have a club for children aged eight to 11. On Saturdays in the daytime, we provide supplementary school for those sitting Highers, focusing on Maths, English, and Sciences, run by three retired teachers and in the evenings we run a club for 12-16 year olds who are at risk of being drawn into anti-social behaviour. Wednesdays we have ‘Young Parent’s Day’, providing a free creche while parents receive one-to-one advice or take part in group activities, followed by lunch (cooked by participants) where everyone can sit down together.
The key thing is that now, some of the families in our community can have access to day care facilities. One of our participants using the Koinonia Project said recently that because she now has access to our childcare services, she was able to look for a job. Without that access, she’s reliant on staying on benefits. So people who didn’t have access to employment before now do. It’s incredibly important for the community and our engagement with the community to be able to provide that.
I think we need Hope Amplified within our community. When I got here there were little services to access and it was tough. The services that did exist were over-subscribed. When we started, we didn’t actually understand that you could be funded, we just started in our own way to help the community in the best way that we could. We recognised that families in our community were failing and we knew that maybe we couldn’t give money but we could come together and give our best, give our time and give our wisdom to help, without blaming everyone.
Our focus was on changing our mindset and improving our community overall and its impact on the social-economic status of Scotland. We want to bring a confidence back to the community, joy and skills and an understanding that the community cares enough to do that.
Michael Jonathan is Chair of Hope Amplified and a committee member.