‘Can’t fail to move.’ The Sunday Times
‘An unsparing portrait of addiction … refreshingly free of rose-tinting.’ The Times
‘Mitch does a fine job of fleshing out his daughter in all contradictory glory.’ Observer
‘An unflinchingly honest memoir.’ Independent
‘The inside story of a pop tragedy … Told with courage, clarity and warmth.’ Q magazine
‘A fitting tribute to her incredible story.’ Now magazine
‘An intimate account’ Look magazine
‘A tender portrait of Amy.’ Camden New Journal
I was in New York on 23 July 2011 when I heard the tragic news that my darling daughter Amy had passed away. Just a few hours later, I was on my long flight home across the Atlantic, trying to make some sense of Amy's passing, when I said out loud: ‘Amy’s Foundation'. It was as if Amy was talking to me, telling me what she wanted me to do.
We, Amy’s family, set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation in Amy’s memory to help disadvantaged young people dealing with addiction, disability, ill health or homelessness. Amy didn’t leave a list of instructions, but she loved kids, so we’re trying to make a difference to as many young people as we can in her name. Everything I spend my time doing, including writing my book about Amy’s life, is to raise money for the Foundation. I am donating all of my author proceeds from my book to the Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to assist as many affected people as possible by supporting and funding identified and reputable charitable organisations that tirelessly carry out remarkable and professional work in these areas. A pipe dream then, maybe, but today it's a reality and, thanks to the hard work of a lot of people.
So what has the Foundation done so far? Well the first grant was made to Hopes and Dreams, a charity the Winehouse family has supported for years. The Foundation’s donation of £10,000 went towards helping three children carry out their last wishes.
Chestnut Tree House Hospice near Arundel Little Havens Hospice in Rayleigh, Essex, and Laura Lynn House Hospice in Dublin (Ireland’s first children’s hospice) were also amongst the first supported, with money going towards facilities that treat terminally and chronically ill children and young people.
Then there is the New Horizon Youth Centre in Euston, London. New Horizon is the largest day centre working with young people at risk of homelessness in central London, teaching skills and offering a free food service. The donation from the Foundation will fund daily meals for up to 60 young people every day for a year. Money has also been allocated to The Pilion Trust in Islington, London. The Pilion Trust charity has a winter project called ‘Crash Pad’, which provides overnight food and shelter for young homeless people – our support will allow them to stay open an extra two days a week.
The Foundation has also given £21,000 to the London Irish Centre in Camden, London. This will fund an Advice Worker post that will support young people at risk in accessing suitable housing, employment, social opportunities and dedicated drug and alcohol services when needed. Amy lived in, and loved, Camden for a lot of her short life so it means a lot to us to be able to offer help in this area. We’re also offering an Amy Winehouse scholarship to the Sylvia Young Theatre School to give a child who couldn’t otherwise afford the opportunity the chance to realise their talents – this is something else we know was very close to Amy’s heart.
Most recently Amy’s mother, Janis, has been proud to donate £20,000 to the MS Society on behalf of the Foundation; this will be used for treating and researching MS in children and young people. Money has also been granted to a community based youth action project, Fitzrovia Youth in Action, and Focus 12, an independent charity providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
In Amy’s short life she touched the lives of millions across the globe. Through my book, the work of the Foundation and Amy’s music, I aim to keep Amy’s legacy alive and keep making a difference – I believe this way she will be with us forever.
And the truth is that the Foundation has not only already helped many young people, it has also helped me. From the months after Amy’s death, to where we are now, the Foundation has given me some purpose and raison d’etre as far as my working life is concerned. This, along with the memories of my beautiful daughter, is what has kept me going.
To find out more about the Foundation visit www.amywinehousefoundation.org.