2019 marks twenty years of Phoenix Community Care’s (PCC) vision, passion, hard work, prayer, friendship, education, fundraising, events and so much more. Here we look back at PCC’s journey from a cupboard under the stairs to the multi-faceted care organisation it is today.
1999 – Some of PCC’s founders make a trip to Kenya and meet Sammy Nawali from Nakuru, and hear about his work with orphaned street children. Returning to the UK, they gather friends and family in a restaurant in Barnet and ask for their help with raising funds to build an orphanage. Under the name Phoenix Community Care (PCC).
2000 – Spurred on by the success of raising funds for the orphanage, several members of the north London community decide to hold other fundraising activities including a Thames cruise music event and sponsored triathlons. By this time links have been made with Sri Lanka, where civil war has ravaged the north of the country. They start by supporting a home for vulnerable girls between 13-18yrs old.
2001 – Australian Prime Minister John Howard refuses refuge to asylum seekers on the Tampa, a ship travelling from Indonesia, saying that if the government were to accept them it would give the message that Australia was “a country of easy destination”. 430 lives were on board, including 43 children, and many were in ill health. Seeing displaced people from war torn situations, being treated inhumanely, galvanised this community into action.
2001 – Phoenix Community Care becomes official as an organisation and has its first office in the cupboard under the stairs in Pauline and Adrian Hawkes’ house. They take in its first female asylum seeker, a young woman from Rwanda, placed with the assistance of social services. They then begin to help find placements for 16-18 year-old refugees from Nigeria, Eritrea & Congo.
2001-2002 – PCC purchases two houses for the placement of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Minors. In collaboration with Social Services, they develop a support system for young people in their care and recruit a team to manage the project. By the end of 2002 they had placed and were supporting 8 young women from around the world.
2002-2004 – More boroughs approached the charity and during this period, they grow to house 30 residents. They begin to place young men aged 16+ either arriving in the UK or leaving foster care.
2004 – A local council approaches PCC to consider setting up a foster care agency, specialising in Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children. It was time to move out from under the stairs! PCC sets up their new offices in Edmonton.
2005 – Seeing that provision for young people from migrant backgrounds within North London is limited, PCC decides to develop a holistic approach to the care they offer. They start to run weekly ESOL classes from their offices and offer IT training for their residents. Young people from outside of the PCC network are referred by local agencies. PCC begins to see that it is not enough to meet housing or educational needs, but that these young people also need community. They begin to run sports and social events, including an annual summer camping trip, subsidised by PCC supporters. Following the December Tsunami in Sri Lanka, they send volunteers to help rebuild houses in the wake of the devastation.
2006-2010 – PCC expands to include 6 houses and more residents, with foster care leavers from British as well as international backgrounds. The charity supports young people with Home Office visits, obtaining legal support and visa applications.
2010 – PCC is awarded Investors in People. The team now includes 10 staff members, a mix of maintenance, key workers, financial administrators and management. The charity welcomes their first student social worker and supports them through their placement.
2011 – The London Riots occur . Various sites around Tottenham are torched and properties are defaced. The Council responds with its ‘We heart Tottenham campaign’ and invests in restoring the local area.
2012 – PCC Charity is established, bringing together its work in the UK with its overseas housing and educational projects in Kenya, Romania and Sri Lanka. A new student social worker from Hertfordshire University joins the team. To celebrate The Olympic Games, Camp Rainbow organises its biggest summer camp yet for young refugees and Rainbow church in the grounds of National Trust property.
2013 – Malachi Kelly, a young photographer from North London, travels to PCC’s projects in Kenya and Romania to document their work there. An exhibition of his photos is held in York and London, raising awareness and funds. Royal Bank of Scotland choose PCC as one of their community programmes to support, and RBS volunteers get stuck in with garden maintenance for the Supported Housing. The charity launches Friends of PCC, in which individuals can become regular supporters.
2014 – Receive a ‘Good Rating’ with Ofsted. PCC launched a summer recruitment drive, culminating in a week long promo at Greenbelt Festival.
2015 – Pauline Hawkes wins Champion of the year award at WOMA (Woman on the Move Award).
2016 – PCC teams up with South London charity, Regenerate UK. They ask friends and the wider community to donate old cars which are then driven to Soard, Romania. Volunteer mechanics from London renovate the vehicles and then donate them to the villagers.
2017 – The Edmonton lease comes to an end, so PCC heads down the road to Tottenham to set up its third premises. Pamodzi Creative and PCC collaborate to present What are you doing here, Mate?, a devised dance show focusing on the refugee crisis, at Bernie Grant Arts Centre , Tottenham.
2018 – 2019 Substantial local funding cuts means PCC need to pool its resources and offer less activities and services for its young people. In response, the charity’s Supported Housing Manager sets up a partnership with Tottenham Hotspur and Hillsong, creating Football United – a football team for refugees.
2019 – To raise funds for the charity, Director Gareth Hawkes and a team from PCC cycle 700 miles over the Pyrenees in 9 days. Following part of the Tour de Force route, the team reach altitudes of 2000 meters and raise £5000.
To date Phoenix Community Care has worked with 20 local authorities, placed 300 young people, and over 120 foster care children. They continue to be committed to their vision to help the world’s most vulnerable people in resourceful, creative and undefeatable ways.
by Kate Mounce