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The Parent House: Successful King’s Cross charity based on a hotel’s business model

PUBLISHED: 10:30 13 July 2017

The Parent House is congratulated by Islington Council leader Richard Watts, cente, for its Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: Islington Council

The Parent House is congratulated by Islington Council leader Richard Watts, cente, for its Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: Islington Council

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Islington’s Parent House charity, which helps 350 mums and dads in the borough every year, has won major recognition for its work. The Gazette speaks to its brainchild and director, Gina Camputaro.

Gina Camputaro collecting the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: The Parent HouseGina Camputaro collecting the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: The Parent House

Gina Camputaro is a successful charity boss. She is probably one of the few who credits the hotel business for her achievements.

As director of King’s Cross charity The Parent House, Gina recently collected the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award that can be given to charitable groups in the UK.

The Parent House, which formed in Calshot Street 17 years ago, supports parents in Islington who have complex needs.

Gina, 48, uses her early career experiences to drive The Parent House’s culture of positivity. “I didn’t gain many qualifications at school,” she said. “I started my working life in catering and worked for big hotels. They made a big thing about providing high quality service for people.

“I think that had a big impact on my ethos at The Parent House. We like to get all the little things right, learning people’s names and making them feel welcome. I believe everyone should have five-star treatment.

“I realised quite early on that I didn’t want to stay in the hotel business. I just wanted to help people instead. I had a really positive experience volunteering with children and moved into social care.”

Within three years, Gina was appointed director of the newly founded Parent House in 2000.

Today, the charity helps 350 Islington parents a year, and is helped by 40 volunteers who provide peer-to-peer support.

Gina, who now lives in Essex but used to live in Paget Street, Finsbury, said of her charity’s work: “Islington is quite a deprived community and we see a mix of people from all backgrounds. Some may have English as their second language, while others come from families who have been in Islington for generations. They may be in isolation or debt. Aside from that bringing up children can be a complex matter in itself.

“Our aim is to support them to progress themselves. We listen, don’t judge. Our big thing is working with any parent who asks for our help.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the equivalent to an MBE for an individual, and Gina added: “It was a huge honour. I’m so proud of the volunteers and people who work here.

“It’s nice to have something that recognises the amount of hard work everyone does, as there’s so much that happens behind the scenes.”

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