Latest Words On The Wing February 2018 Its snowing heavily as I write this and the small yard I look out on from my ‘office’ window is covered by a good 3-4 inches of pure white. Despite the accompanying disruption whenever we have any significant snow, I am always struck by how London seems positively transformed by it. During February the usual standard London grey seems to be boosted by some sort of misery inducing winter-super-grey-enhancing steroids! A good snowfall however, and its suddenly bright and clean and beautiful (at least for a day)! The sound of London changes too; the acoustic properties of the hard services are softened and deadened making London sound quieter, less reverberant, less clamorous and clattering and - depending on the time of day - almost serene. Serene is precisely what most of February has not been, but in some sort of synchronicity with the snow, I find myself having survived a super-grey spell and enjoying a day or two of serenity from which i can reflect. It is pointless to pretend that you can run a charity and not worry about how to sustain yourself - rent, bills, food etc. It doesn't get spoken of much, but it’s a very real, practical and often stressful consideration. In the early days it was possible to work part time and do other things to pay the rent, but as we have grown as an organisation and increased the number of young people we engage, the amount work needed to run and sustain the charity makes this less and less viable. Housing has been a fairly consistent issue and concern for the last year or more, and February found me in need of a change of address for the third time in less than a year. In a particularly difficult, anxiety making week spent looking around at what’s available and the unbelievable cost of the most ridiculously small spaces - I was eventually saved by the incredible generosity of others, and a fabulous short term solution beyond my expectations. In the current environment where all charities are under pressure to develop commercial income streams, be entrepreneurial; innovative in the ways they look to turn part of what they do into a paid consulting or a commercially viable service; it is easy to lose sight of what really drives charity: the generosity of others… charity for charity’s sake; and in this last week from a personal perspective I have been more keenly aware of it and as grateful for it as i have ever been! BIRD has not been hugely successful in our many fundraising applications as yet, partly down to inexperience, partly down to the huge competition, and partly the old catch 22 of trying to survive long enough to have a track record that makes trust funds and grant giving bodies want to give you their money! What has sustained us is individual giving; £10 a month here, one off £50 there… every gift has been celebrated and very gratefully received because at the end of the day its not just my hard work or that of the trustees that is going to determine the success of BIRD, but the generosity of our supporters and the spirit of charity in those that discover BIRD and catch the vision of what we are doing! (you can add your donation here) The generous gift of a flat to live in for for a short while is incredible and has relieved an awful lot of stress and saved a lot of wearisome, time consuming home hunting. Most importantly it has bought us time; time enough to wait to discover whether our big hope for significant core-cost funding from Youth Music will be successful (we hear in march) enabling me and the trustees to then make a plan and a decision based on that information. If we get it, this funding will be a game changer; but in the spirit of serenity I am trying to remain phlegmatic! If we don’t get it we will continue on, carried by the charity of our supporters… but it would be an unbelievable fillip if we do get it! To keep to the theme of fundraising; you are possibly aware that February saw the announcement of our first event! Woo hoo! We have very ambitious plans for the evening! In my minds eye it will be a veritable feast of audio and visual delights; but even if it falls short of my grandiose designs it will still be an awesome show of some of BIRD’s very talented young artists and a chance for me to bat my eyes at you from a stage and tell you why donating/continuing to donate to BIRD is such a good idea! Please come, and celebrate, give what you can and listen to some amazing artists and hear about our ambitions and plans for the future, it will be a memorable night. Why not buy a ticket right now and please do tell all your friends! February has also seen our fledgling partnership with RSBC take off. We've run a number of session and I’ve been down to meet more of their artists in Acton as we plan for and book more sessions in our North London studio … it may be that the initial referral of 5 young people was a somewhat conservative estimate! Our move into the new studio space we started raising for with our crowdfunding campaign is on the cards now for June; which will be not a moment too soon as we are growing our number of artists at a quicker rate than ever before. Again we are waiting to hear on a big funding application to The Morrison Foundation for the remainder of the money we need to purchase the pre-fabricated modular studio we plan to install. What a boost that would be! So what with a disruptive personal change of abode, increasing numbers of artists, many delightful and some challenging sessions, more funding applications submitted and an event launched, February has been full on and …a little stressful truth be told; but at least, at the last, due to the generosity of others I have found a little snow-inspired serenity from which to look back on it! Let’s see what March holds for us. I look forward to reflecting on that this time next month, things may look very different, and not just because of the snow! Here’s hoping!