August 2020


Ward off Crime

JN-SNTOfficers from Wanstead SNT

Ward Panels in Wanstead and South Woodford are keen to welcome a wider diversity of members from their respective communities to help support neighbourhood policing. Elaine Atkins reports

At the end of July, Redbridge residents were invited to attend a live webinar hosted by the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, and the Borough Commander, Stephen Clayman. 

The importance of the partnership between the police and the council in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour was highlighted – but so too was the vital role of the general public in being the local ‘eyes and ears’ for reporting issues.   

Across the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), each ward has a dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) – a team of MPS officers who work closely with our communities to be able to establish local policing priorities and keep us safe. The wider area of ‘South Woodford’ covers both the Churchfields and South Woodford wards, while ‘Wanstead’ includes the Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards. Each ward has its own SNT, with three Dedicated Ward Officers, consisting of two Constables and a Police Community Support Officer – all supervised by a Sergeant and an Inspector.

Each ward has its own Ward Panel drawn from those who live, work or learn in the ward. The panel sets out to represent the whole community, including residents’ associations, faith groups, schools, businesses and community groups, to be able to engage with the SNT. Problem solving is at the heart of all neighbourhood policing, and engagement with the community helps to provide long-term solutions to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. The aim is for the diversity within each panel to represent the diversity within each ward, to be able to give everybody a say in deciding local policing priorities that affect us all. This can be a challenge, however, and attracting panel members from all age groups, genders, faiths and cultures isn’t easy.

Our Ward Panels normally meet four times a year. Our SNT officers attend as observers – bringing data on crime and general information – as do ward councillors, Neighbourhood Watch ward coordinators and officers from Redbridge. Residents and community representatives are often invited to observe the work of the panel, especially if they are considering becoming a member.

At each Ward Panel meeting, opinions and concerns are expressed by the community through the panel members and the sectors they represent. Crime statistics and police reports are considered for the panel to be able to agree on a priority for their SNT, which is reviewed at the next meeting.

We are encouraging people from all cultures, faiths, genders and age groups to learn more about the panels and, hopefully to join us in shaping the local area. There are varying levels of involvement available, with the Wanstead Park panel currently seeking a new chair.

South Woodford Ward Panel
Chair: Sadayeen Khan

Churchfields Ward Panel
Chair: Elaine Atkins

Wansdtead Village Ward Panel
Chair: Mairéad O’Riordan


Wild Wanstead


The world’s forests are on fire. Maybe we should use our gardens in Wanstead to help, suggests Alex Deverill in the 22nd article of a series charting the Wild Wanstead project

The forests are burning. As global temperatures march upwards and humans seek more land for cattle and crops, woodland is going up in smoke from the north to the south.

The 2019/2020 bushfire season in Australia was unusually intense with an estimated 18.6 million hectares destroyed, and this June, Russia’s forest fire agency reported some one million hectares were actively burning in remote areas of Siberia inaccessible by firefighters.

Deforestation isn’t just being caused by global warming. In the last 30 years, it is estimated 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses. Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40% of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010.

What about closer to home? The UK is one of the least forested places in Europe. In England, just 10% of land is wooded. Compare this to the European Union, where 42% of the total land area is forest. Despite the importance of trees for combatting climate change, supporting biodiversity and improving health and wellbeing, data from 2016 suggests that the UK has been in a period of deforestation. The government has committed to more tree planting, but in the year to March 2019, just 1,420 hectares were planted – the target was 5,000. Against that, trees are being cut down for land development. HS2 alone has put 108 ancient woods in England at risk of loss or damage. Young trees are being planted to ‘compensate’ but it isn’t straightforward – thousands died in last summer’s record-breaking heat.

But before we throw up our hands in disgust, maybe we should look at our own backyards. I regularly walk past the van of a local tree surgeon and I can tell you that deforestation is alive and well here in Wanstead too. That’s why I was so pleased to see an article by top UK gardener Joe Swift encouraging people to have a tree in their garden. Here are his top picks for small or medium-sized plots. All have a small root spread – he says they’re safe to plant 3m or more from your house.

  • Crab apple Malus ‘John Downie’
  • White Himalayan birch (Betula utilis jacquemontii)
  • Judas tree (Cercis silquastrum)
  • Ornamental hawthorn (Crataegus persimilis) ‘Prunifolia’
  • Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas)
  • Ornamental ash (Sorbus vilmorinii)
  • Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)
  • Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ (pods are poisonous!)
  • Ornamental cherry Prunus ‘Kursar’

And if the sheer beauty of trees and their major role in removing carbon from the air isn’t enough for you, then consider that maybe, just maybe, money can grow on trees. There’s no data for the UK, but research in the States found that a tree in the front garden added the equivalent of nearly £6,000 to the value of the house, and if that tree was part of nice landscaping, it could increase the value of the home by up to 11%.

For more information on the Wild Wanstead project, visit

Wanstead’s cottages


Residents will recall the conversion of the Old Cottage Antiques shop on the High Street into two small houses in 2018. But were there more of these cottages? Dr Colin Runeckles takes a look back in time

Before the entire High Street was numbered completely in the mid-1920s, 6–8 High Street were known as Wanstead Cottages. But when I began to look back at census returns in the 1800s, I found in 1871 not the two that can be seen today by the side of Wanstead Church School, but seven. Intrigued by this, I decided to find out what happened to the remaining five.

If you go back to the Ordnance Survey maps of the 1860s, you can indeed see seven small cottages in a row from the High Street, and the 1871 census lists them as 1–7, 1 being on the High Street and the remainder in a terrace behind it. Presumably, like 6 High Street does today, their front door would have faced north towards the school. Occupations of those listed in the 1871 census included a grocer (at number 1), laundresses, gardeners and labourers. This was clearly housing for the working classes, unlike the Georgian townhouses on the other side of the road, occupied by those of professions such as solicitors and physicians.

But then, by 1874, a man called John Maughfling had appeared on the Wanstead scene with a butchers shop on the High Street. Like some other successful traders in the area, he decided to enter the business of property development.

In 1880, Maughfling had two houses in Wanstead Place built – these are now 43–45. In 1888, he built three shops on the corner of the High Street, numbers 10–14, but then known as Rose Terrace. And then in 1893, another house in Wanstead Place, number 47, was built, in which Maughfling lived until his death in 1900 and his widow until around 1920.

But what have houses in Wanstead Place got to do with the seven Wanstead Cottages? Well, the gardens at the back of these houses were planned to extend right up to the boundary with the school. This meant that some of the cottages would have to be demolished. By the time of the 1891 census, there are only 1–6 Wanstead Cottages, and later in the decade, the 1893–4 Ordnance Survey map shows only the two that remain today.

I assume Maughfling bought the entire corner plot of land between the school boundary and Wanstead Place on the corner of the High Street. Unless they were simply demolished for being unfit for habitation, then a new owner wanting the land for his own use can be the only explanation as to why they disappeared off the map.

When you next pass the restored cottages, spare a thought for the other five that were occupied by some of the area’s working classes, until John Maughfling came to Wanstead.

For more information on local history, Follow Colin on Twitter @ColinRuneckles

Why can’t you see me?


Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into her life with cerebral palsy. In the first of a series of articles, the aspiring actor talks about wheelchairs and boys

Hi, my name is Grace Wolstenholme, I’m 17 years old and I live in Wanstead with my mum, and I can’t leave out my adorable assistant dog Scooby.

I’ve got cerebral palsy, a brain condition that affects my movement and voice. Some people with cerebral palsy can have added disabilities, such as a learning difficulty, but in my case, it does not affect my understanding. Some people don’t always appreciate that I’m not mentally disabled, so to help people learn more about cerebral palsy, I’ve set up an informative YouTube channel to try and spread awareness about the condition.

I posted a message on social media saying I was thinking of doing a Q&A, inviting people to ask me about living with cerebral palsy. From that, I had about 17 questions, which I thought was quite good considering I don’t really have that many followers!

Another video I filmed is called What dating is like with cerebral palsy. Because I want people to see me as a ‘normal’ teenage girl, I wore my grey dress (the one in the photo here), made up my bed and sat on that, and spoke about what dating is like for me. I explain why dating with cerebral palsy isn’t easy at all because I feel that boys just see a wheelchair, no matter what I wear. If a boy saw an able-bodied girl wearing a skimpy dress, they’d be drooling all over her, but if they saw a girl in a wheelchair, they probably wouldn’t look twice because they think a girl in a wheelchair isn’t capable of doing stuff an able-bodied girl could do. They probably think I don’t understand. You tell me. Do you think a girl who doesn’t understand would wear a fitted dress and a full face of make-up? No, they wouldn’t, or is it you think I’m not ‘able enough’ to do stuff? Well, let me tell you, I can walk, I can talk, I can understand and I’ve also got hypermobility, so you know what that means!

But boys would rather go out with a girl who can walk in high heels. Don’t get me wrong, I wear high heels, but there’s only one problem. I won’t get far walking in them! But a boy would rather be seen with a girl who can walk in high heels than be seen with a girl in a wheelchair wearing high heels. Tell me, what is the difference between using wheels to get around rather than legs? Not a lot!

In February, I performed a monologue I wrote about my life called Why can’t you see me, which got some fantastic reviews from the press, and you can watch this on my YouTube channel as well.

Even though I’m in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean I’m not a normal teenage girl, because I am! I just use a wheelchair to get from A to B.

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit

Breath of Fresh Air


Cities around the world are starting to prioritise the needs of people over cars. Let’s seize the moment to do something in Wanstead too, say Wanstead Climate Action members Kathy Taylor and Susannah Knox

Air pollution is an invisible enemy – killing 9,000 Londoners prematurely every year. The brief drop in traffic levels during the coronavirus lockdown gave us a glimpse of what life could be like with less congestion and cleaner air.

So, we’ve come up with some quick and simple ways you can help put pressure on Redbridge Council and the government to get their act together and deal with the problem of air pollution. Imagine Wanstead less choked up with traffic. It could be a breath of fresh air.

The London Assembly says the capital’s toxic air is a public health crisis. Exposure to air pollution stunts the growth of children’s lungs and increases the chance of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Now, evidence is mounting that it is linked to increased Covid-19 infections and death rates, according to the World Health Organization.

The main cause of air pollution in London is traffic. The quieter streets, cleaner air and lower noise levels that lockdown brought were welcomed across Wanstead. And many cities, including areas of London, have recently and quickly made expanded cycleways or traffic-free streets to make cycling safer and reduce crowding on pavements and public transport. But so far, sadly, not in Redbridge. Cycling is a way to travel with a lower risk of coronavirus infection than public transport. However, understandably, many people are put off getting on their bike due to the lack of safe cycleways. The danger is people will start to drive more to avoid infection, worsening air quality and putting health at risk in other ways.

In Redbridge, cycling provision is far poorer than in other boroughs, and safe cycleways are few and far between. There is a noticeable deterioration in safe cycling options when cycling from Waltham Forest to Redbridge, for example.

While Redbridge Council has shown intention to improve matters and is currently undertaking a consultation, the more pressure that is exerted on them, the higher safe cycling will move up the agenda. Many schemes can be done at low cost. Others will require major funding. However, the health of all of us, especially our children, is at stake.

Five things you can do now:

  • Contribute to the council survey on safer streets:
  • Email John Cryer MP and ask what action he is taking:
  • Stop using your car for local journeys.
  • Check out the work by Mums for Lungs:
  • Join Wanstead Climate Action to help campaign locally:

A gift to charity


As we settle into the ‘new normal’, Wanstead resident and lockdown hero Frank Charles reflects on how the pandemic has affected his charities, the Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal and Feed the Streetz

Prior to lockdown, the Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal sourced and delivered presents to children in hospital over the festive period, gifted presents and experiences to children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses and their siblings throughout the year, took families living in poverty to the seaside every summer and hosted Christmas parties to families on low incomes. The restraints of lockdown and social distancing have severely curtailed our activities on this side of the charity, although we are planning a much-reduced seaside experience later in August.

From the beginning of March, when the severity of the pandemic became apparent and more and more charities stopped taking food to rough sleepers, the other branch of my charity, Feed the Streetz, increased the frequency of deliveries of breakfast bags and personal hygiene bags in both Stratford and Ilford. We continued this for a few weeks until the homeless were given temporary housing.

During lockdown, I also set up a foodbank, which I run from home delivering weekly bags of essentials to families all over east London. Some are referred by other foodbanks, some by social services, others by word of mouth. Because of the risk to the service users from public transport, I am delivering all the bags myself at the moment, but am keen to find premises somewhere in the local area from where I can operate, with clients coming to pick up food themselves.

For the first couple of months of lockdown, I took ready-made meals, cakes, fresh fruit and hand cream to the NHS staff at Whipps Cross Hospital daily, although, as the crisis has lessened, this has now been reduced to once a week. We have also taken food to fire, police and ambulance stations and care homes across east London, and have sourced, made up and supplied face shields to local GP surgeries, Whipps Cross Hospital, Newham General Hospital, care home staff and pharmacies in Wanstead.

With the closure of charity shops during lockdown, Feed the Streetz has also offered furniture, iPads, TVs, clothing and shoes to families in need. To witness the joy on a child’s face when they can access their school work on their own iPad is extremely rewarding.

I’d also like to highlight the work of children who have shown initiative and community spirit by holding fundraising events for us. In June, a group of children in Oak Hall Road held a cake and toy sale, raising £205. And two keen dancers from Palmers Green raised £80 for our charity by putting on a dance performance every Thursday evening for three weeks.

I’d like to thank everyone who has and continues to support the charity in every way.

For more information and to make a donation, visit

Alone in lockdown


Councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Wanstead Village, Labour) looks back on his time in lockdown alone and highlights the importance of continuing to look after each other as ‘normality’ returns

“Are you OK?” This was what I heard the most when lockdown began. I found myself unexpectedly living alone and no one could say how long restrictions would last. Like many people, I was used to going out and about locally when I wasn’t at work or in council meetings, so being both on my own and at home full time came as a bit of a shock!

I have, however, been lucky: having some lovely neighbours I could see from a safe distance without travelling and with the forest on my doorstep for my daily permitted exercise. I was also struck by how helpful local shops were in response to the pandemic – on my own, I didn’t need big supermarkets but when needed, I made use of the small shops in Wanstead and South Woodford, especially those I could visit early in the morning before starting work. Fortunately, these remained well stocked, even when eggs and flour were scarce elsewhere, meaning I could indulge in my new-found lockdown hobby of baking. It was fantastic to be able to contribute to the Corner House Project’s efforts to provide baked goods for our brilliant NHS workers.

Being on my own, I’ve had to work quite hard to create boundaries: keeping my day job to my desk and using set times for virtual council meetings and keeping up with correspondence and phone calls while keeping leisure time separate – even if that just meant going to the sofa to watch TV! It’s been good to be busy though. I have many friends who have been on furlough for some months now, as approximately a third of workers in Redbridge have been.

I’ve also been fortunate to keep in touch with friends and family across the UK and abroad, many of whom have found more time to talk since lockdown. Whether by Zoom, text, email or even postcard, this kind of contact has been hugely important for my mental health and wellbeing. Sadly, from both my work in children’s mental health and being on the Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, I know that for many, whether on their own or in other difficult living arrangements, lockdown has been extremely difficult. Support, however, is always there, whether you need practical help or just someone to speak to on the phone.

As lockdown begins to lift and a glimmer of ‘normality’ slowly returns to our local community, I hope we can continue to look after each other and support the brilliant initiatives like the Tin in a Bin Network and mutual aid groups. Some people feel less comfortable and the return to ‘normality’ for them will take longer – I’m sure the Wanstead community will continue to support them.

Daniel is keen to highlight the following support services: Redbridge Wellbeing Service (call 020 8708 5555); Samaritans (call 116 123); SHOUT (youth mental health support, text 85258); and Age UK (call 020 8220 6000).

Open-air cinema returns to Wanstead with Disney and horror classics

MV5BMTQ0NjUwNjY1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzYwNTc3Mw@@._V1_Finding Nemo (2003)

An open-air cinema will be screening Disney classic Finding Nemo and horror-comedy The Lost Boys in Wanstead this month.

The event – which will take place from 8.30pm on 29 August at Eton Manor RFC (adults: £8; under-16s: £5) – will also offer a BBQ and bar service, with the opportunity for families to camp the night at the Nutter Lane site (additional charges apply).

Eton Manor RFC is also seeking to raise £15,000 to improve their kitchen and clubhouse and to renew the outside seating areas.



Five-year-old from Wanstead to have first-ever haircut in aid of charity

Screenshot 2020-07-28 at 11.26.42

A five-year-old Wanstead resident is raising funds for the Little Princess Trust by having her first-ever haircut this month.

“I would like to cut my long hair before I go back to school… As my hair is so long, I thought it would be a good idea to donate my hair to children who have lost their own hair due to sickness or treatment… Please help me support this wonderful charity by sharing my page or sponsoring me so I may raise enough funds to make a real-hair wig for a child,” said Amelie Tarr.

Amelie will be getting her hair cut on 26 August at Click Beautique.



Zoom, naturally

Little-Egret-by-Mark-HoldenA little egret in Wanstead Park. © Mary Holden

When lockdown was announced, the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group had to come up with alternatives to replace their spring and summer plans. Enter Zoom. Tim Harris reports

When lockdown was announced, some Wren members concentrated on what they could do from the comfort of their own homes to contribute to the group. And with necessity being the mother of invention, some of these initiatives have been very successful.

Carrying this to extremes, ‘noc-migging’ involves recording the calls of birds migrating overhead at night. Using a recording device in a bucket, this is the very antithesis of exercise, best done while asleep! Chief among the surprises it produced were the calls of common scoters – ducks usually found far out at sea – in early April. Thanks in the main to noc-migging, these wildfowl are now known to fly overland on their way north in spring. This really is citizen science in action.

Several of us switched on bright lights in our gardens to attract moths. Our area has a phenomenal range of these nocturnal insects, mainly because of the area’s floristic diversity. This year has been the best on record, with more than 250 different kinds noted so far, several never previously recorded. And only a couple of them eat clothes!

Many local naturalists also took full advantage of the opportunity to exercise outdoors to spot interesting plants, bees, birds and butterflies in our diverse range of green spaces. Among many fascinating discoveries was a small patch of fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii) behind the Esso garage on Aldersbrook Road. This ‘weed’, native to North America, was found by Rose Stephens and has not previously been seen locally. We’ll probably never know how it got there.

But the big problem we faced as a group was how to reach out to people who would, in more normal times, come on our local walks. Enter Zoom, and committee member Tony Madgwick, who offered to host a series of weekly ‘virtual field meetings’. These have been enormously successful, attracting audiences from far and wide to listen, learn, and discuss. While most participants have been local, we’ve had naturalists tuning in from as far afield as Devon and Scotland. Some meet-ups have drawn more than 100 people, keen to find out more about a range of topics, ranging from the best bee-friendly plants for their gardens, which butterflies and dragonflies to look for in Wanstead Park, how to identify birds by their songs, and the life history of native reptiles. So successful have these online meetings been that we intend to continue them.

So, if you’re interested in our local flora and fauna, check the Wren Group’s programme of virtual field meetings on our website, where recordings of some of the previous meetings are also available.

For more information on the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group, visit

Virtual public meeting discusses rebuilding of Whipps Cross Hospital

Waltham Forest Save Our NHS held an online meeting last month to discuss the plans to rebuild Whipps Cross Hospital.

“The speakers, including John Cryer MP, had two key messages. First, we cannot stand back and allow the new hospital to be built with too few beds for our growing population. Second, the new hospital must be environmentally sustainable, the first zero-carbon hospital in the UK,” said Wanstead resident Charlotte Monro, who participated in the event.

An email has been set up for all who would like to be involved, have questions or ideas:

Watch a recording of the meeting at