After nearly fifty years in Angel, Islington NCB has set up base in Hackney. Anyone who’s ever moved house knows how much time, effort and stress is involved in uprooting to a new home, so why have we done it?
Our building in Wakley Street was donated to us in 1974. In many ways it has been the gift that keeps on giving. Not only has it provided us with a place to work in the heart of London, it has provided space for thousands of social workers, teachers, health practitioners, parents, children and young people to collaborate and learn over the years. We’ve been visited by Secretaries of State, Princesses, peers, MPs and civil servants. It has given us stability and security in the volatile waters of charity funding.
But if you’ve ever visited us in the last decade you’ll know that the building itself was no longer fit for purpose. Too big, but with cramped offices off tight corridors, it was inflexible and expensive to upkeep.
Selling the building allows us to invest in a new property which will better suit our purposes, providing us with continuing security – and will also give us scope to invest in our long-term plans. So we’ve moved to the heart of Hackney, into temporary offices while our new building round the corner next to London Fields is completed.
During the packing up of the building, we un-earthed documents relating to our founding. NCB was formed out of a conference in 1959 which brought together local authorities, academics and children’s charities frustrated by the fragmentation of support for children and families most in need. A wonderful excerpt from the minutes of that seminal conference talks about the practitioner at the “coal-face” on one side of the chasm with the academic on the other side, never the twain meeting:
“Both the needs of the children and the needs of the professional workers would be better met if there were some organisation which existed to spread and interpret new knowledge and to bring together those who need to use it.”
And so in 1963, NCB was born.
I am inspired by the clear vision set by our founders, I find it hugely motivating that it still runs through NCB like a stick of rock.
I look forward to many of you visiting us in our new temporary home in Mare Street. And next year, when we move to our permanent space in London Fields, I hope many more of you will help us turn it into a buzzing hub of children, young people, families, practitioners, academics, politicians and civil servants with children’s best interests at heart.
You can find us at the WeWork building, 115 Mare Street, London E8 4RU. Directions here.