October 2020


Knitted together


A Wanstead-based knitting group has created a range of woolly poppies to raise funds for The Legion. Just one way Social Knitworks is helping our community one stitch at a time, says founder Liz Hickson

The idea to set up the Social Knitworks group (despite the fact I am no knitter or crocheter!) came to me after walking past a horrific scene opposite Liverpool Street Station in December 2018. A homeless man had ruptured and died in his sleep. Witnessing that horrific sight on a cold rainy morning when I was on my way to work was something I couldn’t get out of my mind, especially as it was Christmas. And I wanted to do something to help vulnerable people in my local community – in particular, the homeless.

Bringing together a diverse group of local knitters and crocheters, Social Knitworks knits and crochets for a variety of local charities and projects. When we make a sale, 100% of the purchase price is donated to a local cause – with our primary focus being Wanstead’s Corner House Project, which helps support vulnerable people within our community, including the homeless.

However, since February last year, we have also produced countless items for Whipps Cross premature baby unit, as well as for full-term babies who are from less advantaged backgrounds. In addition, if you’re like me (and not a very good knitter), we make very simple squares which get made into cat blankets for the Celia Hammond Animal Trust. So, there is literally something for everyone depending on both ability and the type of cause that may be of interest to the knitter.

Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, we met weekly in The Cuckfield. On our first anniversary in early February, around 20 knitters came along to celebrate. When lockdown hit, we took to Zoom and then my back garden. We then returned to The Cuckfield before Tier 2 restrictions meant we were back on Zoom last month. We all now look forward to returning to real-world meetups!

As a group focused on the community, I have been amazed by the support we have received – including the people who knit, the people who donate wool, Lizi Arnold and her team at The Cuckfield and last but not least, the people who buy from us. I had the idea for the group, but everyone else has made my idea a reality.

With Remembrance Sunday around the corner, we are currently working on a range of knitted and crocheted poppies. Selling at £4 for a small crocheted poppy or £5 for a larger knitted poppy, purchasers have the choice of donating 50%, 75% or 100% to the Royal British Legion.* If donating less than 100% to The Legion, the remainder will be donated to The Corner House Project.

To order a poppy or to get involved, email lizzieofizzie@gmail.com or visit the Facebook page

*I am currently trying to confirm with the RBL whether I am legally allowed to split donations as described above. However, despite contacting the RBL several times by phone, online chat, email and Twitter as of writing (14/10/20) I am still awaiting a response. Should no response be received by 11/11/20, I will split donations as per customer wishes (with at least 50% of the purchase price going to the RBL). But please be assured 100% of the purchase price per poppy will be donated to either the RBL or a combination of the RBL and The Corner House.


Lockdown Virtual Supper Club to support children’s hospice


Wanstead foodies Suzi Harnett, Kate Rowe and Paul Canal are launching a Lockdown Virtual Supper Club to raise money for Haven House Children’s Hospice.

“Participants who pledge £10 to Haven House will receive a four-course menu, comprehensive recipes and full instructions, along with recommended wine and drinks pairings from celebrated food writer Kate Rowe. The menus are curated by local restaurants Le Marmiton, Provender and La Bakerie,” said Paul.

The event is scheduled for 21 November.

To take part, HavenHouseVirtualSupperclub@gmail.com


Black History Month: Career Management

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Pamela Odukoya of the Woodford Green Speakers Club introduces an event in connection with Black History Month

COVID -19 has led to further unemployment and massive changes in the world of work. This is a time of great uncertainty for the Black and Minority Ethnic community (BAME) and as professionals from this community,  we are keen to support our community to make changes in different areas of their lives, as an example, career planning and financial management. We believe that with access to sound careers guidance they will be able to access a  range of other professions and achieve their potential.

As a result, this will contribute to a change of narrative that currently hinders their progression and financial security.  If we are to continue celebrating Black History Month, we believe now is the time to start developing our future heroes.

Purpose: To empower people from BAME communities to reflect, work together and change their current narrative about careers, their voice and money management.

When:  29 October at 6.30pm -9pm via zoom.

Topics: Career Management,  Your Voice and  Financial Management

Cost: Free

Link to register: rb.gy/56ei3d


Have your say to help redevelop Whipps Cross Hospital

Whipps Cross HospitalWhipps Cross Hospital

Nat Cato from Healthwatch Redbridge encourages service users to make their voices count

In September 2019, Whipps Cross was given the go-ahead to build a brand-new state-of-the art hospital. A strategic case was developed with local health and social care partners talking to service users and hospital staff.

The initial plans for the new building involved increasing the proportion of clinical space from 50% to around 70% and maximising the use of its departments. It would make more efficient use of services which are currently spread out across the site. The proportion of critical care and maternity beds would also be increased and modern wards would have the proportion of single rooms significantly expanded, improving patient experience and infection control.

Meetings and surveys showed seven out of ten respondents agreed that the hospital couldn’t be done without developing the site for new homes as well as core health and care services.

The Challenges of COVID-19
When COVID-19 arrived Barts Health adapted to minimise its spread by restricting hospital visits and using technology for virtual consultations to ensure services were delivered where possible. Most elective surgeries were suspended (apart from cancer treatment and life-saving operations).

Seeing Covid-19 as one of the biggest challenges faced by the NHS, the Trust’s clinicians came to the realisation that the overall vision for the new hospital remained valid but would need to adapt some of the detail in implementing it.

“We are increasing the proportion of outpatient consultations done remotely by telephone or video. These are positive changes we wanted to make, that are taking place sooner than we hoped… 

We now anticipate making further changes to the “front door” model of the new hospital to account for the expectation that more people will access services by being referred from GPs or NHS 111, rather than walking in as at present.” Barts Health NHS Trust 

Join the virtual meeting
As a service user, your views are needed. Join the virtual public meeting for an update on the new hospital, present your views and have your questions answered.

The panel for these meetings will include representatives from Barts Health as well as partners from the local health system in East London and from local government.

A summary of the emerging plans – ‘Building a Brighter Future for Whipps Cross – Moving to the next stage’ – can be found here.

The meeting for Redbridge residents is on 29 October 2020, 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Register for meeting

Healthwatch Redbridge is an independent champion for health and social care is keen that services hear directly from members of the public.


Community group answers call to adopt iconic telephone box by Wanstead Station

IMG_2831The phone box before the restoration

The Wanstead Society is seeking to revitalise the iconic K6 telephone box outside Wanstead Station, with the Wanstead Community Gardeners high on the list of those wishing to put it to good use.

“This particular box has Grade II listed status with Historic England and, of course, it complements our beautiful Art Deco station perfectly. BT will decommission it, but leave the electricity for the top lights. Then it is ours to clean, paint and use. The project is in its early stages, but hopefully, by next summer, the shiny red kiosk will be brimming with plant life. Crowdfunding may be needed for the refurbishment, but possibly not for the purchase price – it’s £1,” said Eileen Flinter.

The K6 kiosk design was created by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.


New equipment installed on Christchurch Green playground


A rope bridge, tunnel and games table are among the new play equipment installed on Christchurch Green earlier this month.

“It’s great to see Christchurch Green’s popular playground benefitting from Redbridge Council’s commitment to investment £1.6m in play equipment across the borough. I have long been calling on the council to commit more funds to playgrounds as I know from first-hand experience how crucial playgrounds are to families with young children,” said Councillor Jo Blackman.


COVID-19 permanent test centre opens in Woodford Green

IMG_4454Construction of the testing centre

The third permanent coronavirus testing centre in Redbridge opened in Woodford Green this week.

Located in Charteris Road car park (IG8 0AL), the site is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. “Redbridge has the highest COVID-19 infection rates in London and we need to ensure our residents can get tested to help stop the spread. We want every resident in the borough to be able to access a testing centre nearby,” said the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal.

Visit wnstd.com/test


Wild Wanstead


Planning some building work at home? Why not make sure it offers net gain for nature? Susie Knox explains why in the 23rd article of a series charting the Wild Wanstead project

In the last 25 years, an area of countryside and green space almost the size of Cornwall has been lost to development. Built-up areas in Britain increased by nearly 3,500 square kilometres, according to the UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, most of it in England. If someone had proposed to concrete over the whole of Cornwall, there would have been an outcry. But development is much more insidious than that. A little bit here, a little bit there. Each pretty insignificant, but collectively, adding up to a vast area of land lost to nature. 

The researchers calculated that between 1990 and 2015 there was a net loss of 1.9 million acres of grassland.

With so much more development still to come, it is good news that in the new environment bill, the government is embracing the concept of net gain for nature. It means that big developments will (allegedly) have to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. By measuring the value of existing habitats in biodiversity units, the net gain approach will hopefully encourage habitats of high biodiversity value to be avoided or preserved, given the difficulty and cost in compensating for them. It should also lead to new developments integrating wildlife-enhancing features into plans to boost their score of biodiversity units.

It seems a shame that in places like Wanstead, where most development is small scale or residential (extensions and driveways), no such rules will apply, and the gradual concreting over of suburbia looks set to continue. A little bit here, a little bit there. I wonder how many George Green’s worth of gardens have been concreted over in Wanstead during the last 25 years?

Maybe, as individuals, we should embrace the concept of net gain for nature, even if we aren’t forced to by law. For example, if garden land is being lost to make way for an extension, why not ensure the remaining garden becomes a haven for wildlife? Or put on a green roof and create a new area of vegetated land?

Suburban gardens are home to nearly 700 different species, and probably many thousands of individual creatures. What to us seems like a lovely extension or patio, or a neat driveway, is Armageddon to insects, birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and the many other creatures trying to live alongside us in Wanstead. Many people say they feel reconnected with nature following lockdown this year. Let’s hope those feelings turn to actions by ensuring our own home building projects result in an improved habitat for our local wildlife.

Ways to help nature gain while achieving the house of your dreams:

  • Incorporate green features in your new development.
  • Compensate for any loss of vegetation or habitat by making the remaining land even better for nature.

For example:

  • Use a small amount of hard surfacing and maximise space for vegetation.
  • Put a sedum or wildflower roof on extensions, sheds or garden rooms.
  • Opt for a green driveway.
  • Don’t put down plastic grass.
  • Switch areas of your lawn to no-mow in spring and early summer.
  • Plant trees and hedges around the edge.
  • Allocate an area to become a wild corner – with leaf piles, wood and dense vegetation.
  • Create a wild flower mini-meadow.
  • Start growing ivy or other climbers up your fences.
  • Add a wildlife pond or water feature.
  • Lift up old areas of gravel and slate and plant low-maintenance shrubs instead.

For more information on the Wild Wanstead project, visit wnstd.com/wild

Why can’t you see me?

grace-1Grace at her mate’s 18th birthday garden party (with less than 30 guests)

Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into her life with cerebral palsy. In the third of a series of articles, Grace gets to party for the first time this year

Hi. It’s me again, Grace. You’re probably thinking: “Bloody hell, what more could she possibly have to talk about?” Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t know what to write about, but then I thought, why not talk about my first time going out since lockdown? So, here we go… you’ll probably want to sit down for this because, as my family say, when I have something to talk about, it’s never quick. So, I hope you’re comfortable.

Most people have probably seen my post on the local Facebook pages saying I’ve been isolating since the beginning of March due to coronavirus. Because of my cerebral palsy, I’m very vulnerable. I’ve got a very low immune system. But on 28 August, one of my mates had a party because she turned 18. So, I was very excited to go to a party for the first time since December.

Obviously, my mum was shitting herself because there would be a lot of people there. But I was well excited! It took me two hours to do my hair and make-up to get ready because, you know, I had to look good. You never know, there could be a fit boy there. Unfortunately, there weren’t any fit boys.

I was filming and doing a photo shoot in my mate’s garden because – excuse my French – f**k me, her garden is huge, and by huge, I mean it’s like the size of, do you know the Wanstead part of Epping Forest? It’s probably not that big, but not far off! She’s got a lake – yes, a lake, not a pond, a lake – and a whole lot more. I mean the party was literally out of this world!

There was a bar, from which I got a passion fruit Martini. There were three big tents, one had a DJ in, another had a photo booth in and the other was a chill-out area, but I spent most of my time in the party tent, and talking to her nan. I know, you’re probably thinking I don’t have a life if I talk to nans, but we really got on. I think it’s because I’m really close to my own great nan. That woman is a nightmare: she goes to Westfield and she does every floor. She’s even been in – wait for it – Ann Summers. So, that’s why I think I got on with my mate’s nan.

By the end of the night, I looked a right mess. My shoes were covered in mud. I’m surprised I managed to walk in them because they were knee-high heels.

At 1am, we called it a night. It took an hour to get home.

So, yeah, that’s everything that happened to me when I was released from lockdown.

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit wnstd.com/grace

Glass full of inspiration

Jenny-Glass-0317038Arriving Home by Pippa Davismoon Photo by Mathew Cameron Wilton

Art Group Wanstead member Pippa Davismoon works with clay and glass. She has just started teaching a new glass fusing evening class, and believes making things can enhance your wellbeing

Ever since I can remember, I have needed to make things. I now believe it’s fundamental to a rich and rewarding life. Since finishing at Central St Martin’s Art School with a distinction in glass in 2011, I have worked in kiln-formed glass and ceramics alongside drawing and print.

Teaching and running local workshops are also part of my art practice, being passionate about how making can enhance wellbeing. I’ll be running glass evening classes and Christmas workshops again this year.

I first fell in love with the colours of studio glass when studying architecture in Liverpool. The cathedral has coloured glass in its dome, and when light shines through, beautiful colours fill the space.

I started working with glass 10 years ago, finding it as inspiring and beautiful then as I do now. Glass is exciting to experiment with and a very forgiving medium. It can be refired up to seven times. When you open the kiln, it’s like opening a present from a friend.

Working with ceramics is a slower process, meditative and relaxing; during this time, you can adjust and develop your work. I also often work with porcelain, as despite its technical challenges, it’s a sensuous clay, producing an exquisite finish, glazed or unglazed.

During the last Wanstead Festival, I worked with Elsa Arnold (from the Spreading Kindness Through E11 initiative), running a workshop for people to make kindness bunting, which was displayed in local shop windows.

Currently, I am working on Lockdown Lessons, a participatory word game made out of ceramics.

To view more of Pippa’s work, visit pippadavismoon.com or follow her on Instagram @pippadavismoon

Pippa runs glass fusing evening classes at Bedford House Community Association. For more information, call 020 8504 6668 or visit bedfordhouse.org


Food for thought


It is well documented that turning to veganism is one of the most effective ways an individual can reduce their carbon footprint, says Tina Nieman Da Costa of Wanstead Climate Action

As a movement, plant-based living has seen steady growth in recent times, and the market share for products and services in this sector has exploded. And yet, still there are some who find this lifestyle confusing. As one Zimbabwean vegan pointed out: “It was easier to come out to my father. There were less questions, less tears and way less calls for an exorcism.”  

So, here are seven questions every new vegan will face, and helpful ways to answer them.

1. What do you eat?
Fruit, vegetables and grains. Anything that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. And in the summer, swimmers in the sea… No wait, that’s sharks, vegans eat plants.

2. Where do you get your protein?
The extensive variety of nuts, legumes, seeds and grains available in any decent grocer.

3. Why are you not dead yet?
The side effects of a plant-based diet may include reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.

4. Why are vegans always talking about it?
To save you the effort and embarrassment of killing, cooking and serving a whole cow to someone who has no interest in eating meat or animal products of any kind.

5. Do you take supplements?
No, we get all our nutrients from the food carefully selected based on what we need to live, and not what we live to eat.

6. How do you manage it?
By the grace of the vegan goddess Serena Williams, all things are possible.

7. Are you an ethical vegan or a dietary vegan?
These labels, like most labels, are irrelevant and detract from the wider and more important conversation.

The conversation being, should we, as a civilisation, rethink our agricultural activities for the good of the planet, and what are we willing to sacrifice for the future, now we know simply leaving the mess behind for someone else to clean up is no longer – and never has been – an option? Pollution of all kinds is not going anywhere until big and wholesome changes are made to stop a climate crisis that the generation sitting in pushchairs right now will have to live with.      

The answer is not just veganism; in fact, you don’t even have to be a vegan. What is needed is a commitment to change your mindset from a consumer to being part of the solution to the climate issue in every aspect of your life. This will not be easy, but life by its very definition is not meant to be easy. It is, after all, the struggle against the infinite violence of the cosmos.

For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit wnstd.com/wca

Local Rotary Club to host charity bingo night on Zoom


The Rotary Club of Leytonstone and Woodford is inviting residents to join an online bingo night on 30 October to raise money for charity.

“Our club is part of Rotary International and supports the global challenges facing us all. However, we are particularly focused on the local community and other deserving causes closer to home,” said club member John Bracken.

The event, which starts at 7.15pm (£10 per person), will include four games, with prizes for one line, two lines and a full house.

Email peter.blake97@outlook.com