High Wycombe, often referred to as Wycombe, is the second largest town in Buckinghamshire with a population of 80,000. It is a combination of industrial and market town with a history of furniture production. The suburb of Totteridge, where Lighthouse High Wycombe is based has high levels of deprivation, as have Disraeli and Micklefield, two other areas where many children who attend Lighthouse High Wycombe live.
For three years from 2003 to 2005, I helped at Lighthouse Hazlemere, although I lived in Disraeli. They were very pleased to have my help, but were not able to offer places at Lighthouse Hazlemere to the children from my local school, where I was a volunteer helper. This did not seem right. Therefore, under the guidance of the Lighthouse Hazlemere Trustees, a number of us got together and formed a new charity and Lighthouse High Wycombe started in July 2006. There were now no geographical boundaries for children attending a Lighthouse in High Wycombe and Hazlemere.
Our initial funding came from a gift from Lighthouse Hazlemere and loans: one very substantial personal one, one from Lighthouse Hazlemere and one from a supporting church. These were all cleared within three years. We had a deficit the first year, but a surplus for the next five years.
For a number of years we met in the grounds of the Royal Grammar School. It was however a very spread out site and it was impossible to control access to it as it had many street entrances. In 2011, we moved to Highcrest Academy, which suits our needs better.
From the beginning, we have run coaches from supporting churches to bring children to Lighthouse. This has a number of benefits: it enables contacts to be made between the churches and their communities, it reduces the strain on parking and traffic at the Lighthouse site, and it makes Lighthouse accessible to all children whether or not someone can bring them by car. One year we had eight coaches, but this number was reduced when Lighthouse Cressex started.