Celebrity VIPs including Alesha Dixon, Theo Paphitis and Karren Brady joined guest speaker Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and more than 1,200 Norwood supporters to help the Charity raise £2.8 million at its Annual Dinner. Other high profile attendees at the star-studded event, held last night at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, included Sir Philip Green, Kate Garraway and Vanessa Feltz.
The money raised will help Norwood achieve its annual fundraising target of £10million, which it needs to maintain its support services for people with learning disabilities, and children and families in need. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson entertained guests with his views on capitalism, the right to protest and the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The Mayor hailed London as the business capital of the world, saying it was the “tax revenues those businesses produce, £64 billion from the financial services alone, which allow us to invest in projects which improve the quality of life of everyone in this great city.”
Praising Norwood’s work and the generosity of its supporters, the Mayor added: ‘Look at what Norwood has been doing in this city for the last 200 years, the incredible amount of money that it raises and the fantastic things that it does. Norwood shows the true spirit of the city of which I’m so proud to be Mayor.’
Last year, Norwood announced that it expected to lose up to £4 million in annual statutory funding over the next three to four years due to local authority spending cuts. Since then, it has implemented a cost reduction programme which will eventually save the organisation £3 million each year. It also raised its fundraising target from £9 million to £10 million, which is just under a third of its annual budget of £32 million.
The Annual Dinner was the first official engagement for Elaine Kerr, Norwood’s new Chief Executive, who took over from Norma Brier after 22 years of loyal service. Norma will remain involved in the Charity as its first Patron of Adult Services and a member of its Advisory Council.
After introducing herself, Elaine said: “Our challenges at this time are great and the needs of our community are growing. At the start of my Norwood career, these issues are not overwhelming, due to the talent, ambition and remarkable abilities of the very many people associated with Norwood. We are only going to be limited by our drive, ideas and available funding. However, it’s only the latter that we don’t have in abundance.”
This year’s fundraising appeal focused on the work of Norwood’s family support and social work services. The service, provided to vulnerable families by 20 social workers at three family centres in Hendon, Hackney and Redbridge, receives no government support and is entirely funded by voluntary donations.
Guests, including the many thousands being communicated with via social media and through a live online blog, were given a rare insight into this usually confidential work through a moving appeal film. This focused on the crucial support provided by Norwood to 16-year-old Michelle, from north London, who was orphaned following the death of her father three years ago. Norwood helped Michelle and a distant cousin Elisa, who became her kinship foster carer, as they battled with their local authority to gain the resources they needed and deserved. Norwood also provided emergency funding and a social worker who counselled Michelle as she came to terms with her loss.
Richard Desmond, President of Norwood, said: “Norwood has provided life-changing support to the most vulnerable men, women, and children in London – and beyond – for more than two centuries. We were therefore honoured that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was able to join us in celebrating our achievements at this year’s Annual Dinner. “In this extremely difficult economic climate, the generosity of our supporters helps us to ensure that not a single man, woman or child in our community falls through the safety net that Norwood provides. In pledging to Norwood tonight, they enable us to say loud and clear to all those who rely on our support that we are there for them and will not leave them to struggle; that we will welcome you into our Norwood family and help you live the life you choose.”
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