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Features

Thank you

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As the Wanstead Winter Night Shelter project comes to an end, Revd Canon Ann Clarke reflects on 13 weeks of community generosity, local business support and numerous grateful guests

The Wanstead Winter Night Shelter closed its doors at the end of March after a successful inaugural season. This is down to the excellent organisation and experience of the Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter (FCENS) model, and the wonderful number of local volunteers who ran the shelter each week.

The volunteers came from many different backgrounds, some of faith and some of none.The amazingly generous donations, both financial and in kind, made it possible to give the very best we could to our guests.

We gave a warm welcome, food, shelter, clothing and toiletries to up to 30 guests each week (mostly men, but a few women). We have also discovered that Jenga, Connect 4 and chess were very popular with our guests!

Local support has been exceptional; businesses turned up with bread, pastries, savouries, even complete meals for 30. Among those who have donated are Horizon Patisserie, Leytonstone; The Duke, Wanstead; La Bakerie, Wanstead; The Rotisserie Company; and Luppolo, Wanstead. When we had excess, guests were able to take ‘packed lunches’ with them on the Wednesday morning.

Donations of clothing enabled us to offer coats and other items; our guests were able to take away with them brand new hats, gloves, scarves, socks and underpants. A special mention to both John at Petty Son and Prestwich and Lizzie at The Cuckfield for gathering items for us. The Cuckfield has done the laundry every week, which has been a great saving; we cannot thank them enough.

Although we do not look for thanks and gratitude, our guests were, without exception, very grateful for the amazing generosity shown to them. Every person’s story was different. Some of our guests work, but the wage is so low they cannot afford the market rates for accommodation. The age range was 18 to mid-60s. Listening to their stories gave us a glimpse into how easy it would be for anyone of us to be in their shoes.

FCENS project worker, Tunde, is an amazing guy who knew every guest individually and worked with them to find employment and accommodation, and to sort out their often complex issues. He will continue to do this through the spring and summer when the season ends. Mention should also be made of Anthony, who, with a volunteer, covers the night shift at every shelter, every night from November to April. This is a ‘staying awake’ shift!

FCENS is a wonderful project and it has been an amazing privilege to be part of it. A huge thank you to all of you who supported us and made this happen. We look forward to being part of the scheme next year.

The Wanstead Winter Night Shelter was located at Christ Church hall every Tuesday from 7 January to 31 March. For more information, call 020 8530 8743
News

Recycling collections suspended

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As of Friday 27 March, Redbridge Council will be suspending kerbside recycling collections and will now be collecting residents’ rubbish and recycling together.

“We’ve had to make the difficult decision to stop collecting recycling separately and concentrate on household waste, simply because we don’t have enough drivers and staff available to carry out all the rubbish and recycling collections safely.  Sadly, many of our staff are having to self-isolate due to the COVID-19 national guidance,” said a council spokesperson.

The council is also asking residents to reduce household waste items where possible.

“In practical terms, this just means that people need to leave their household rubbish and recycling out together. I would also ask residents to ensure that all bags are closed firmly and not split,” added the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal.

While these changes are in place, residents must bag up their recycling with their rubbish in black sacks.

If you’re part of the wheelie bin, the council will collect additional rubbish if you place it a black sack next to your bin.

The council has published an FAQ page on their waste and recycling changes.

Features

Small business, big problem

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Local resident Rachel Jarvis is a business coach for ActionCOACH and is keen to make Wanstead’s business owners aware of the support available to them during the current crisis

As you know, the UK is in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and many small and medium-sized businesses are already feeling the effects. I encourage all business owners to read HMRC’s guidance for employers and business owners, which can found at gov.uk.

Some of my clients have already contacted HMRC, who have been very understanding and have offered to defer all tax payments (including VAT) for two months. In effect, this is free credit to help with potential cash flow issues. Many businesses are following suit, and I would encourage others to do the same. The simple principle here is: once you’ve paid it, you won’t get it back! HMRC are likely to have to give further concessions if the effect of coronavirus is as severe as expected.

Banks are also said to be increasing credit lines and overdrafts, and in some cases, they may even offer repayment holidays on loans. And many of my clients are contacting all of their suppliers to ask about relaxing payments.

The government has launched a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the scheme will support loans of up to £5m in value. Companies can access the first six months of that finance interest-free.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave. Coronavirus statutory sick pay is expected to be in the form of a refund.

For the self-employed not eligible for statutory sick pay, contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by coronavirus.

There are also cash grants of up to £10,000 for our smallest businesses, which will be delivered by local authorities. The council will have further information on this as the scheme is rolled out.

And a business rates holiday has been introduced for 2020–21 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000. A £25,000 grant will be provided to businesses in this sector operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. This will also be implemented through your local council.

Rachel is offering free coaching sessions to local businesses impacted by coronavirus. Email racheljarvis@actioncoach.com or call 07711 193 998
For more information on support available for small businesses, visit wnstd.com/biz
Features

Old enough to…

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In the ninth of a series of articles looking at the work of Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, Janet West summarises the impact of coronavirus on their services and explains what they can still offer

Due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, here at Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering we are busy adapting our services so we can continue supporting older people in the three boroughs we serve.

Whilst some services will continue as near to normal as possible for the time being, some will inevitably be more affected as we strive to follow the government’s advice to help keep people safe.

Unfortunately, this means that since 17 March, we have had to close the Allan Burgess Centre – our activity hub in Wanstead – to comply with the current guidelines, meaning we cannot provide lunch or activities for the foreseeable future.

The activities carried out at the Cherry Tree Cafe (Zumba and art classes) will also cease as the centre has to close its doors as well. We will be offering telephone communication to service users affected if they would like it, so we can at least give them someone to talk to and offer advice if they need it.

The situation is changing all the time, so we will be updating our website as the weeks progress, or people can phone the office for more information.

Here at our offices in Ilford, we will still be running a limited advice and information service, and our telephone befriending service, with some changes to how these are delivered as more staff and volunteers need to work from home.

Social activities make up a lot of our services, allowing people to socialise together in groups. With current advice, we can sadly no longer organise these gatherings until further notice.

On the bright side, we are receiving many kind offers from the public who want to help and we are looking at ways we can use this extra resource whilst being mindful of our duty to safeguard older people.

In the meantime, we would like to encourage older people to ask for help if they need it, firstly turning to their families, friends or neighbours, but if they don’t have any support networks, then do contact us and we will try to help where we can.

Please be aware, during this difficult time, there will be delays in answering calls.

For more information on Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, email admin@ageukrbh.org.uk, call 020 8220 6000 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk

Age UK has a fact sheet on the coronavirus. Visit wnstd.com/ageuk-virus

Features

A community that delivers

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Volunteers across Wanstead have been delivering leaflets to their neighbours, offering help and support during the uncertain times ahead. Charlie Renwick explains why she got involved. Pictured here is fellow volunteer Mei Moore (Charlie was self-isolating and unable to be photographed at the time of writing). Photo by Andy Nutter

By mid-March, I started to feel anxious about coronavirus; initially what it would mean for my family and me, but more importantly, what would happen to those older people who don’t have a support network in place.

I knew other people must be feeling the same way, so I turned to Facebook and within minutes found the Redbridge COVID-19 Mutual Aid group, an organisation set up by three others to connect us all at this time.

At the time of writing, the group has over 1,500 members and is growing daily. It offers clear information on Redbridge wards (areas within the borough) and recommendations on how we can all get involved in supporting our local community.

I live in Wanstead Village, where we now have a WhatsApp group with 135 members and counting. Our priority to date has been reaching out to the elderly and those considered to be at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus, to ensure everyone has someone to turn to if they need to self-isolate.

A leaflet template was created, volunteers selected their local streets and printed copies. Our aim was to post one through all letterboxes in the area so everyone has contact details for their local volunteers.

The response has been incredible, from people joining the group as volunteers to messages thanking us for reaching out to them. Another Wanstead volunteer shared a messaged she received from an elderly neighbour: “I just wanted to thank you and Tasha for your lovely offer in my letterbox today. I am 81 but fairly fit, and just now have all that I need. But it is so reassuring to know you are there. I am so grateful for your kindness.”

For me, this is what it’s all about, knowing everyone feels they have someone to turn to during these difficult times.

Our objective is to create a web of support for the village, whether that means a grocery shop, a prescription collection or a chat on the phone to brighten up a lonely day. No request is too small! I’m here, and so is our ever-growing volunteer network.

So, pick up the phone and let’s support each other.

If you need help and you didn’t receive a leaflet, contact Charlie, who will connect you with someone local. No request is too small. Call 07851 632 613

To join the Redbridge COVID-19 Mutual Aid Facebook group, visit wnstd.com/cov19

To join the Wanstead Village or Wanstead Park ward WhatsApp group and for a list of other groups across Redbridge, visit wnstd.com/covid19groups

News

Wanstead swimming pool remains on track for opening in 2021

Proposed-street-view-looking-south-westVisualisation of the new facility on Redbridge Lane West. ©Stanley Bragg Architects

Plans for the construction of a new public swimming pool at Wanstead High School are progressing.

“Works are currently underway at Wanstead High to deliver temporary school accommodation and on-going access to the Multi-User Games Areas during the main school works. Once these current works have been completed, the school will decant into the new accommodation, allowing access to the main works contractor to undertake the programming for the demolition works. A preferred contractor has been identified for the main work, and we are currently concluding contracts. The contractor will be obliged, among other things, to meet a set of agreed ‘social value’ targets, which should include apprenticeship opportunities and construction vacancies for local people. There will be regular contact with residents in the immediate surrounding area throughout the project,” said Councillor Sheila Bain.

News

‘Largely positive’ feedback for council wheelie bin trial in Wanstead

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Redbridge Council has received ‘largely positive’ feedback from residents currently trialling wheelie bins for their household rubbish collection.

“There are 1,530 properties taking part in the pilot in Wanstead. There is no specified length of time for the pilot while we monitor how it’s working, and resolve any issues,” said a spokesperson. The trial began in February and has seen 7,000 households across the borough receive a new 180-litre grey bin.

“Wheelie bins will prevent animals from accessing waste and deters fly-tipping.”

Features

Happy voices

Wembley-Arena-2011Rock Choir members at Wembley Arena

Classically trained soprano Nicola Cain is leader of the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir. With scientific proof singing makes you happier, is it time to open your mind – and vocal cords – to the power of music?

Rock Choir has over 30,000 members participating in approximately 400 local communities. We offer all ages an alternative experience to the traditional classical or community choir, introducing members to feel-good pop, rock and contemporary chart songs. 

Rock Choir has an uplifting ethos of fun, and friendship and community spirit is a huge part of our attraction, with members enjoying a dynamic and busy new social life whilst connecting with their community. At an individual level, it helps improve people’s wellbeing by building their self-confidence, self-esteem and, in turn, improving their mental and general health.

This was scientifically proven in 2018 when the BBC programme Trust Me I’m a Doctor used members of Rock Choir for an experiment to find out if singing, cycling and dancing boosted our levels of endocannabinoids – neurotransmitters thought to be the cause of the ‘natural high’. These chemicals are similar in structure to the chemicals found in the cannabis plant. As well as giving a ‘buzz’, they are also linked to improving mood and reducing anxiety and stress. Under the direction of physiologist Dr Saoirse O’Sullivan, the group of Rock Choir members were tested in each activity over four days with interviews and blood taken to monitor their levels of endocannabinoids. The end result was extremely exciting. Whilst dancing and cycling raised their happiness levels by 20%, singing raised them by an extraordinary 40%, a discovery that could help enormously with our approach to mental health.

“Rock Choir has made a huge impact on the wellbeing of its members… I’ve seen first-hand how being part of Rock Choir has improved lives; some of our members have reported that they’ve come off anti-depressants, found new confidence in themselves and found pure happiness again. Their wellbeing has impacted their relationships around them too, their family, friends and colleagues, and they will continue to feel better and stronger the longer they sing!” said Rock Choir founder Caroline Redman Lusher.

The Rock Choir team consists of over 140 individuals, including 80 professional musicians and performers, The Leaders, who deliver weekly rehearsals in their communities.

Leading the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir is a privilege – the choirs become an extension of our families and I am proud of how much the members have bonded. We are always looking for new members and we hope to welcome some new faces – and voices – this year.

Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir meets at Wanstead High School on Monday evenings from 7.30pm to 9pm (free taster session; £100 per term). For more information, visit wnstd.com/rockchoir
Features

Kind words…

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In the second of a series of articles documenting the thoughts of local anti-bullying ambassador Elsa Arnold, the founder of the Spreading Kindness Through E11 initiative explains how dance has helped her

I battled with myself for a long time after being knocked down by bullying and I didn’t see myself getting back up again. Bullying knocked my confidence and made me feel worthless. I honestly didn’t see a very bright future for myself. But something changed for me.

I have always loved to dance, starting ballet and tap at the age of three and dreaming of being a ballerina. But this was always just a childhood dream. I never thought after losing my passion for years that I would find it again during the most difficult time of my life. I never liked dance from Year 7 to 9 (we studied it at school as a compulsory lesson), and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. When I started secondary school, it was a lot easier to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and I always feared being judged. But at the end of Year 9, I decided to join our school’s dance club and ended up taking it at GCSE, which was definitely the best decision I made.

Going into GCSEs was a difficult transition for me and coming out of a difficult year made it even harder. Year 10 wasn’t much easier, but I started therapy after things became too much and I was struggling with everyday life. My motivation dropped a lot and my world continued to get darker. But having dance classes to go to every day gave me something to focus on. It was a place where I could let go and express myself. My love of dance only grew throughout Years 10 and 11, helping me through the stress of exams and overcoming battles with myself. I suddenly felt in control of my feelings and finally felt like I had some sort of connection with myself in the dance studio.

I would encourage anyone with a mental health illness to find something they can do that they enjoy and can express themselves through. Sometimes, talking can be really hard, and it’s such a difficult first step to take. But I know that dance helped me feel more able to communicate with others about how I was feeling and accept help rather than resist it. It changed my whole perspective of life and allowed me to reach a brighter future, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Creativity isn’t limited and creative subjects like the performing arts really do have an enormous amount of power to help us change our perspective on life.

You can overcome any mental health illness, but please don’t put pressure on yourself if you’re struggling to express yourself through words. There are so many things that can help you overcome difficulties in your life. This passion might be clear for some people and more hidden for others, but it is there. The words will come… you just have to give them time.

For more information and to read Elsa’s blog, visit lostinthought-blog.com, or follow her on Instagram @elsa_arnold
Features

The Hobbs Album

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In the first of a series of articles looking at historic photos of the local area found in a 100-year-old family album, historian Richard Arnopp  presents a selection of images of Wanstead Park

Since 2007, I’ve been involved in the campaign to raise public awareness of Wanstead Park, an important and historic open space. I’ve also been an active researcher into various aspects of the park’s history, to inform the development of plans for the future by shedding light on its past.

One of my projects has been to build up a collection of historic images of Wanstead Park, Bush Wood and Wanstead Flats. In 2017, I acquired an album of photographs taken by members of the Hobbs family, some of whom lived locally. The album is dated 1896–1907 on the cover. There are just over 100 photos, of which at least seven are of Wanstead Park, which was what piqued my interest.

A related album sadly escaped, as bidding pushed the price beyond what I was willing to pay. Many of the photographs in the collection were faded, degraded or damaged to varying degrees, and it took a good deal of time and effort to restore them to the extent I was able.

Over the coming months, I’m going to give you a taste of this treasure trove of unique, original images. As well as local scenes, they incidentally shed light on social history, recreational activities, costume and some interesting personalities.

What makes the Hobbs album fascinating is that most of the people depicted are identifiable individuals. Finding the album was my first stroke of luck; the second was when I was contacted by a relative of the Hobbs family, Alys Wade, from Australia. Ms Wade had come across a selection of photos from the album which I had posted on my Wanstead Image Archive.

Ms Wade told me: “George Wilson Hobbs was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1838. He, with his wife Fanny and their family, moved to Forest Gate around 1880 and resided at 35 Bignold Road for many years. They had previously been resident in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Three of George and Fanny’s children became self-employed artists like their father and worked from a studio at home. Florence Emily married Frederick Dawe, a commercial artist, in 1901 and they had one son, Cedric, who became an artist and an art director in the film industry. A large silk embroidery was worked by at least one of the daughters, possibly Fanny Marian, on a Singer sewing machine and won first prize for the Singer Sewing Machine Company in the 1900 Paris Exposition. George Edward wrote and illustrated several children’s books on the theme of brownies (elves) and also stories and illustrations for children’s annuals. He painted landscapes and portraits and illustrated cards for the publisher Raphael Tuck.”

I’ll begin the series with some photographs taken in Wanstead Park.

To view Richard’s Wanstead Image Archive, visit wnstd.com/imagearchive