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Acton Park-based charity A.P.P.L.E celebrates its artblock’s 20th anniversary with Mayor of Ealing, Councillor Hitesh Tailor

An Acton Park-based charity that supports and helps children to develop their creativity has celebrated its artblock’s 20th anniversary with Mayor of Ealing, Councillor Hitesh Tailor joining them.

Acton Play Projects and Leisure Events (A.P.P.L.E.) , which was founded by local parents in 1996, is also one of the Mayor’s nominated charities for his term in office.

Last Saturday (24 June 2023), an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the artblock took place. On a sunny afternoon, the Mayor, Councillor Tailor joined the celebrations which included food, music, games, archery and an opportunity for all those attending to pay tribute to the work A.P.P.L.E has done for children and their families over the years.

Mayor of Ealing Councillor Hitesh Tailor and Vicky Barker co-founder and project coordinator at A.P.P.L.E.
Mayor of Ealing Councillor Hitesh Tailor and Vicky Barker co-founder and project coordinator at A.P.P.L.E.

EALING.NEWS caught up with Vicki Barker, co-founder and project coordinator at A.P.P.L.E about what it means to be selected by the Mayor as well as what the charity has done over the past 20 years.  We also spoke to Councillor Tailor about the important work A.P.P.L.E does.

Ms Barker revealed what it was like to be chosen by the Mayor. She said: “We were very excited and it was unexpected. The Mayor came to visit us when we were doing a big clear out day, and I was talking to him about our fundraising for a new kitchen and what we did here and the next thing I know, I get to email saying ‘You’ve been chosen as his charity for the year and would you like to come to the inauguration ceremony?’

“So we went and it was wonderful. I mean, it was such a surprise, but it is so wonderful to be acknowledged for what we do. We do it day in day out and to have somebody say we recognise the work that you’re doing was really nice.”

Councillor Tailor said of A.P.P.L.E: “A.P.P.L.E is a great local organisation that works with a lot of young people, particularly those of disadvantaged communities and in the local area and helps them out in terms of developing skills. It helps them out health wise and also with mental health. It provides skills – cooking skills, life skills and gives them an outlet to learn outside the school environment as well as the support when it’s needed.

“I saw that its been there for a long time as someone who actually is very local. I’ve seen the benefits of the work it does over the years. And I thought this is actually quite an opportunity to help raise that profile on the work they do.”

Ms Barker explained more about the 20th anniversary of its art block and how it came to be. She said: “It’s our anniversary of being in this building. Our building, the art block in Acton used to be the public toilets, and they were derelict.  The council very kindly let us have it for a peppercorn rent. And we’ve been in this building now for 20 years. But it’s in desperate need of refurbishment, reorganisation, decorations, maintenance, all sorts of things. So we thought we’d use our 20th year here to launch our kitchen project, which is what we’ve done. It’s a big celebration because we hit our targets in our crowdfunder so we can go ahead with our kitchen.”

A.P.P.L.E is quite a unique charity in how it supports young people in and around Acton. Ms Barker explained: “It is unique because I don’t know of anywhere that runs quite like us. We are open access which means we are here for everybody, not any specific group. We are free for the children, young people and families who come. We are a drop in centre, people can come and go as they please. And we provide activities for children and young people in out of school time. So after school and in the school holidays and we do everything.

“We do gardening. We do art, we do cooking, we do massive cooking lots of sports and games. But in recent years, even before COVID, we were giving away food and we were beginning to feed children because they were hungry.  They actually needed food. And that’s increased all the time. We now have we have 25 families registered with us for our food bank on Tuesday afternoon. The summer holidays we will feed between 40 and 50 Children in an afternoon. So it is what makes us different is that we do all of it. We don’t do one thing we do lots of different things.”

Councillor Tailor added that A.P.P.L.E provides “opportunities” for young people. He said: “There’s a lot of disadvantaged kids who don’t have access to facilities as well as spaces. And it’s bringing those kids, those young people here as well to give them that opportunity. That’s the benefit. What they they do is provide the opportunities.”

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