Interview with Rise Kids CIC Founder and Director, Eunicia Harding

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we interviewed the truly inspiring Eunicia Harding, Founder and Director of Rise Kids CIC, an organisation that was set up in response to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire to provide after school provision and support to children who were affected by the fire.

Rise Kids needs your help to reopen their doors in time to support children and young people over the Easter holidays! Click here to find out more and donate to their fundraiser to help them raise £1,500 to reopen for local children who are most in need of support.

Can you give us a brief overview of who Rise Kids CIC are and why you were founded?

Rise Kids was formed following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. In 2018 I was the Vice Chair of Lancaster West Residents’ Association with Jamal Williams, then chaired by Jacquerie Haynes. A lot of residents had been displaced in hotels and left on the Lancaster West Estate. Half term was coming up in October and I was worried about the children and where they would go. Instead of children playing on the walkways and hotel corridors, I wanted to create a safe place where parents wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to third parties to leave their children in childcare during such horrific times.

Me and my Residents Association members took to creating a safe space for children with the help of James Caspell from the W11 Housing Management Team. Jacquerie Haynes understood my dream and brought Nick Hurd from Downing Street to see the kids play. I then branched off from the Residents Association in 2020 to become an independent CIC, with a panel of great Trustees who help to steer Rise in the right direction. All Trustees are local residents and the Chair of Trustees, Abbas Dadou, has encouraged me and helped me all the way so that Rise Kids can remain independent and have the opportunity to serve children from the Notting Dale and North Kensington Community forever.

What does your organisation do to support young people?

Rise Kids supports young people by providing a safe space for children aged 7-16 after school and during half terms. We provide the unique service of collecting children from the school gate at 3.30pm and providing them with a hot meal for dinner with the help of The Felix Project and great help from Felix Project board member Micheal Millership. During half terms we provide trips with help from the North Kensington Community Champions (including Programme Manager Ewa Kasjanowicz).

The Kensington and Chelsea Foundation and Young K&C have also recognised us and helped us to provide a homework club, holistic well-being meditation, arts and crafts, sports, half term trips and trips to local parks. In the future we hope to work closely with third parties to explore more activities for the children, including football, swimming, cycling and canoeing. Our service runs from 3.30pm-6pm and 1.30pm-6pm on Fridays and from 10am-5pm during half terms (plus a breakfast club for parents who need it).

What are the current challenges faced by your organisation and the young people you work with?

The ongoing challenges are unfortunately constantly looking for funding to support my staff, having to stop and start the club due to lack of funding, trying to gain recognition amongst bigger childcare organisations and the borough understanding the needs of local parents and the nature of our work.

Young people need consistency and a well balanced foundation is so important, a lot of the children who use my centre have continuous counselling or art therapy following the Grenfell fire and many suffer from Anxiety and PTSD. I am now working closely with Social Services at the Malton Road Hub in order to provide a safe and secure service.

What support does your organisation provide specifically for young women?

We are yet to provide a specific young girls group, but I think this is so important, I previously ran a girls group at the Latymer Community Church for over six years. Myself and my female colleagues have seen how important it is to provide a service for young women, I am always providing mentoring for the young girls in my group, and am known to many young ladies in the community as Aunty Nicia! During the Covid lockdown, I have done Zoom mentoring and 121s, parents are constantly asking me to talk with their daughters and to support them, I have seen mental health issued in young ladies rise, with constant self-doubt, insecurities, a need to fit, low self esteem and worries about their GCSEs. We must continue to provide a service but Rise Kids can only do this with the right, consistent funding.

What can members of the public do to support Rise Kids CIC?

Members of the public can support Rise Kids by understanding the great need for our service, we provide parents in our community with a safe space for their children. Rise Kids is needed and it’s very cliché to say but children are our future and we need well balanced children in North Kensington. They have seen and been through a lot, and even if they haven’t directly their parents have been affected by the Grenfell fire and this rubs off on them in the family home.

The general public could help Rise Kids by volunteering to come down and meet us to see how you can help,by understanding the culture of our community and through financial support to help us to keep running our service (which is what has the biggest effect on our service!).

I would like to say a big thank you those who have supported us: the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, Anita and Nicola from Young K&C, Nadia Sallan from the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council, Jacquerie Haynes, Carol Scott, Yinka Innis, Jamal Williams, Abbas Dadou, Paul Julien, Tomassina Hessel and the North Kensington Community Champions.

Find out more about Rise Kids CIC