May 2020


Woodford Green student launches project to thank NHS workers

Press-Photograph-FinalSoumya Krishna Kumar

An initiative that allows the public to directly thank individual NHS workers has been set up by local student Soumya Krishna Kumar.

“Letters For The NHS allows you to nominate any individual key worker you know to receive a letter of support that could be a light in these dark times. Others sign up to write letters, and spread some love… All I want is to reach as many key workers as possible,” said Soumya, a former Bancroft’s School pupil.

The project produced over 100 letters in its first two weeks.



Fairlop Brass Band’s Snaresbrook debut concert delayed


Fairlop Brass Band has rescheduled its debut performance at Forest School in Snaresbrook, following the cancellation of their June event.

The band held regular concerts at Kenneth More Theatre for over 40 years, but when the future of that venue was in doubt, they sought a new home.

“We were thrilled to be able to secure the use of Forest School, and we would like to thank them for allowing this concert to be rebooked for next summer. We now look forward to our debut there in November,” said a band spokesperson.



Lockdown lesson

cpChris Pallet

Snaresbrook resident and teacher Chris Pallet will be glad when schools (safely) reopen. Here, Mr Pallet, who is also chair of Redbridge Liberal Democrats, explains the biggest lesson he has learnt from lockdown

Life has changed for everyone since lockdown started. As a teacher in a local primary school, that is certainly true for me. Leaving the house every morning, ready to greet my class at 9am, has transformed into sitting down at my computer in my living room to upload lessons to an online classroom. I spend the rest of the day giving my children feedback and offering what encouragement I can via the chat function. 

I have more time to spend in the garden, but I really miss seeing the children. And I don’t like the thought that I can’t (physically, at least) be there when my children need help with their work.

So, how has this switch to online learning impacted their education? On the plus side, the children that are able and motivated to engage with online learning are getting a crash course in IT that will serve them well in the future. Every day, they are writing emails, creating and editing documents, developing their typing skills and more.

As is always the case, those who are motivated to learn and well supported at home are doing okay.

On the negative side (and it is a huge negative), it is very hard to support those children who are not able to engage with online learning effectively. These are often the children who were already attaining below their potential. They are the ones who needed school the most in the first place, and they are the ones who are falling further behind now.

And, of course, all the children are missing their friends.

So, I will be glad when schools (safely) reopen. The lesson I will take with me from all of this is that some children will thrive in almost any situation because they have the motivation and the supportive home environment to succeed. But for some, school makes all the difference, and I (we) always need to remember that.

Like many who are working from home, I also have a child of my own to support. My advice to parents is, firstly, if possible, allocate a short amount of time every day (30 minutes can be enough) to sit with them. Secondly, read or watch the material set by their school or from elsewhere (BBC Bitesize, for example) and discuss it together. Get them to tell you what it means to them.

Talking is such a powerful part of learning.  It allows children to practice using the right vocabulary and to develop their ideas about what it all means. Don’t worry too much about minor misunderstandings – they can be ironed out later.

For more information on home learning resources, visit

Local Miss Junior Teen GB participant raises funds for children’s charity


A teenager from Wanstead is raising funds for Together for Short Lives, a children’s palliative care charity.

Layla Badowska, who recently turned 13, has long been involved in charity work in Redbridge and Newham, where she also trains in a professional cheerleading team.

Her latest fundraising efforts are linked to her participation in the Miss Junior Teen GB 2020 competition.

When we all come together as one, we can make a real difference to children so badly affected by a terminal illness,” said Layla.



Local women’s organisation ‘thriving’ in these difficult times


Woodford-based women’s organisation Soroptimist International of East London is going from ‘strength to strength’ in lockdown with online meetings.

“Far from suffering, the group has started new projects during this time, including exploring women’s history in east London and providing online support to a charity in Kosovo… Members are also working with COVID-19 community support groups in their neighbourhoods,” said the group’s president Nathalia Berkowitz.



Travellers Tales 2020: local art group launch virtual exhibition


Woodford Arts Group has launched a travel-themed virtual exhibition following the cancellation of their spring display at Packfords Hotel.

“You are able to view this exhibition from the comfort and safety of your own home,” said exhibition organiser Julia Brett. The software allows viewers to navigate their way through a virtual gallery, to select works to view in detail and to hear the artists discuss their pieces. “Most works are for sale and we have the facility to take credit cards over the phone.




1582715146_b657e350-b739-4957-a626-4a1fa5e54bf7©Kira Vos Photography

In the second of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Wanstead – Eleanor Taylor celebrates the group’s first milestone

The Refugee Welcome Wanstead project – which is made up of five churches: St Mary’s Woodford, Wanstead Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, St Gabriel’s and St Peter’s-in-the-Forest – has achieved its first milestone, and raised the minimum funding needed to apply to welcome a Syrian refugee family to our community.

Covid-19 has presented us with some unforeseen hurdles, but we’re pleased to be able to let you know how we’re getting on, and to thank everyone who has supported us so far. The Covid-19 outbreak has had a real impact on our project. Plans for fundraising activities this summer have had to be shelved, making it harder to raise vital funds. Our volunteers have also found themselves juggling new working and home arrangements, and volunteering locally for the fight against the virus. However, the pandemic has also brought to life one of the reasons why our project is so important.

The danger posed by Covid-19 in refugee camps is dire. The majority of displaced people in the world already contend with underlying health conditions, malnutrition and poor sanitation, worsening the threat of the virus. Social distancing is impossible when access to necessities involves standing in queues for hours, and hand-washing is difficult when access to clean water and soap is severely limited. Access to medical treatment for those who do catch the virus is restricted, and for the most severely affected, the chances of being able to access adequate facilities are slim.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that we keep working to take a Syrian refugee family out of danger and welcome them into our community here in Wanstead. We’re currently working to finalise our formal application, to get the wheels in motion.

The Community Sponsorship Scheme can take up to six months to be processed by the Home Office. Our detailed application is submitted and checked, then the Home Office, along with the UNHCR, begin to identify a family whose needs we will be able to support. Although we don’t know what the long-term delays caused by Covid-19 will mean for our planned timetables, we’re getting on with submitting our application, so we can be ready whenever we are needed.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve already received from people in Wanstead and Woodford, and beyond; you’ve all been so generous with donations, encouragement and offers of help. Once we know more about when we can expect a family to join us, we will need lots more help and support, especially from people who have experienced the system or who have relevant language skills.

For more information, follow the group on Twitter @RefugeeWanstead or email

Cricket club supports local foodbank and NHS charity


Wanstead and Snaresbrook Cricket Club partnered with Essex County Cricket Club and Redbridge Foodbank to host an ‘Alternative Cricket Tea’ earlier this month.

“We asked members and local residents to drop off specific food items and other products to support vulnerable families in the community… Over 100 bags of food and essentials were donated,” said chairman Martin Pluck.

The Overton Drive club also raised over £5,000 by hosting an online race night, with funds shared between the club and a local NHS charity.


Wanstead travel agent offers 50% off Mauritius hotels for NHS staff


A local travel agent is offering half-price accommodation at a number of hotels in Mauritius for NHS staff.

“As our NHS heroes continue to fight COVID-19, we’re pleased to provide this discount to anyone with a valid NHS ID card,” said Darrell Toakley of Darrell James Travel (46 High Street, Wanstead). The offer is valid for travel between 1 June 2020 and 31 May 2021 (exclusions and terms apply). “I would like to thank everyone who has sent well wishes and has rebooked with us for later this year or next year.”



Thames Water joins Wild Wanstead project with giant Grow Zones

Screenshot 2020-05-29 at 11.50.51©2020 Google

Thames Water has established two large Grow Zones covering over 3,400 square metres at the pumping station by Redbridge Roundabout.

“The areas will be left to flower and set seed throughout the summer months to create a meadow habitat supporting our declining pollinator and wild flower species,” explained a spokesperson. The Wild Wanstead project, Redbridge Council and Vision RCL have been collaborating to create a network of Grow Zones, sites where the grass is left to grow long to naturalise with wild flowers.



New wild flower meadow created by Wanstead Community Gardeners

L1220838©Geoff Wilkinson

A new wild flower meadow has been established on the traffic island between The George pub and Wanstead Tube Station.

“It was a tremendous project with a huge amount of work involved. We just managed to finish all the preparation and get the seeds footed in before the rain at the end of April. If all goes according to plan, we should have a wild flower meadow by July or August. We’ve sown a very tough mix of various grasses and flowers,” said Marian Temple of the Wanstead Community Gardeners.


South Woodford and Wanstead homes collect five tonnes of foodbank donations


A network of foodbank collection points at homes across Aldersbrook, Wanstead and South Woodford collectively received over five tonnes of donations in the first five weeks of the initiative.

The Tin in the Bin Network was established in April by Wanstead residents Julie Harvey and James Paterson, with 34 volunteers providing a drop-off point at their home to fill the gap left by the closure of regular collection locations.

“We’ve now dropped over five tonnes to Redbridge Foodbank and that continues to be more than a tonne per week! There’s a list of food the foodbank has sufficient stocks of, and we’ve had at least a further few hundred kilos of those supplies, so these have gone to support other initiatives in the community, looking after people in immediate need,” said James.

For a list of addresses, visit