October 2020

Features

Food for thought

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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
News

Local Rotary Club to host charity bingo night on Zoom

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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

Features

Financial conduct

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Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee reflects on how the mortgage market has changed over the last 50 years and why he is thankful the Financial Conduct Authority are doing their bit

When I first started work over 50 years ago, it could be tough getting a mortgage. Even if a borrower fitted the lender’s criteria, UK-wise, things were a lot tighter financially and mortgage lenders operated a strict allocation of funds so that if the lender’s funds ran out for a particular month, borrowers would have to wait until further funds were available for their purchase.

The courts were tougher too. Many years ago, a particular judge at Bow County Court in rent possession cases had an often repeated mantra to those appearing before him saying “No rent, no house,” so if you were in arrears with your rent, you could not expect much clemency from the judicial system, and that was pretty much the same for persons with mortgage arrears. Thank goodness things have changed for the better.

Fast forward to 2019 and the bank of Mum and Dad is open for business, and there are hundreds of mortgage products and many more people are able to get the mortgage they want to make home ownership within their grasp.

When Covid-19 struck, the world as we know it, in so many ways, was turned upside down. People’s finances were and continue to be thrown into jeopardy with a lot of financial worry. Thank goodness in 2020 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been issuing guidance to mortgage lenders so that borrowers who face financial difficulties arising from coronavirus can be helped.

This FCA guidance is advice to lenders to use short- and long-term options, which include altering the repayment duration of a mortgage, thereby reducing monthly payments, offering payment deferrals and other solutions so as to provide much-needed financial support at a very difficult time.

The whole point is that if borrowers need help, instead of facing the prospect of their homes being repossessed, lenders can give support tailored to the individual borrower’s circumstances to help them manage their finances. Lenders are also being advised to refer their borrowers for debt advice.

We are a long way from the Covid-19 situation coming under control and the headlines are worryingly full of indications that employers are apparently planning substantial redundancies for the UK workforce. At least the FCA are doing their bit to give advice to mortgage lenders to ensure the right kind of practical help is given to mortgage borrowers at this critical time.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000
Features

Whole, in two!

Mulberry-fall-14Assessing the mulberry tree on Wanstead Golf Course

A 300 year-old mulberry tree at Wanstead Golf Club has split in two – a victim of the summer’s hot, dry weather. But this is just the beginning of a more recumbent phase of old age, says Peter Coles

Since Roman times, mulberries have been planted in London for their delicious fruit and medicinal virtues. Today’s trees help to tell this tale.

I first visited the veteran black mulberry tree (Morus nigra) at hole seven on Wanstead Golf Course in 2018. I was invited to do so by local resident and mulberry enthusiast Claire Weiss, and I remember being excited to add it to the Morus Londinium database. Morus Londinium is The Conservation Foundation’s mulberry mapping project in London. This particular mulberry could date back to the 1720s, perhaps planted as a fruit tree in the kitchen gardens of the (long since demolished) Wanstead House.

It therefore came as quite a shock when Bob Ward, manager of Wanstead Golf Club, informed Claire the tree had split in half during the very hot, dry weather of August, which had been followed by strong winds.

But, like many other veteran mulberry trees that collapse, this is just the beginning of a new phase. “The collapse of this tree should not be seen as a catastrophe but rather as a natural progression in its continued growth. Without doing anything, the natural order will be for some of the branches, now touching the ground, to root and grow independently of the parent trunk. The part still upright will also lean over and, at some point, do the same. Our oldest mulberry trees have all lost their original trunks and survive as a collection of stems rooted in this way,” said dendrologist David Alderman, who helped assess the damage.

Not so long ago, when an old tree like this keeled over, the urge would have been to think it was dead, or at least to chop up and  remove the fallen section. Nowadays – and especially in the case of the Wanstead Golf Club mulberry, which has lots of room around it – the advice is to leave it alone.

According to David, the size and age of the Wanstead mulberry qualify it for the national hall of fame: “The size of the tree makes this a remarkable specimen! I measured the tree to be 7.5m tall x 2.97m girth at 0.8m above ground level. Very few mulberry have intact measurable trunks of circa 3m in girth and although not the oldest mulberry, this is the second largest, most intact mulberry in Greater London… Out of 500 specimen mulberry in Britain, the Wanstead tree is 9th largest when comparing only those surviving with a clearly identifiable short trunk.”

This said, black mulberry trees can live for several centuries under the right conditions, but their long, spreading branches may need to be supported. Wanstead Golf Club is very proud of its venerable tree and has assured us they will do whatever is needed to preserve it.  We will follow this story with great interest in the months to come.

For more information on Morus Londinium, visit moruslondinium.org
Features

Tonnes of Good

PHOTO-2020-04-16-14-49-19Donations ready for delivery to the foodbank

James Paterson reflects on the success of the Tin in a Bin (TinaB) network – which he established at the start of lockdown with fellow Wanstead resident Julie Harvey – and explains why the initiative is still vital

It all began so simply! Julie Harvey, a regular donor to the Redbridge Foodbank via St Mary’s in Overton Drive, set up a system outside her house where neighbours could drop goods to be added to the church collections. Julie decorated her front windows with signs asking people to “Put a tin in the bin,” and left her recycling box out to collect these.

When lockdown was imposed, churches had to close their doors to the public, and one immediate consequence was the end to regular weekly donations on Sundays; the foodbank was deprived of an important supplier, hampering their vital work. So, I came up with a solution: a large plastic chest in front of my house where people could drop donations instead. The problem was, Drummond Road is neither very central nor convenient. Nevertheless, the availability of the two drop-off points at mine and Julie’s houses was publicised on the Wanstead Community Hub Facebook page.

Immediately, donations started to come in. Amazingly, people also volunteered to become drop-off points as well, and the Tin in a Bin Network was born! It grew rapidly, and the network now has 35 collectors across Wanstead, South Woodford and Aldersbrook. It has become affectionately known as TinaB! Responding to requests, we also set up a PayPal pool for those who preferred to donate money.

TinaB volunteers bring donations to me and Julie. They’re sorted and taken to the foodbank. The first week, incredibly, saw donations of 700kg. The second week, we received 1,345kg, which is still a record. We now drop an average of 1,000kg to the foodbank weekly, reaching over 10 tonnes at the end of June. As at 5 September, the total donated to the foodbank was 16.65 tonnes! In addition, we distributed surplus food the foodbank didn’t need to local initiatives supporting people in crisis, including hotels housing rough sleepers, Frank Charles’ worthy Feed the Streetz and the Magpie Project, to name a few. These donations weighed around another two tonnes.

Julie and I are so thankful to our community for their continuing support. We are also grateful to the Wanstead Village Directory for frequently publicising the network. Sadly, the need for the foodbank has increased steadily during the pandemic, and the continuing crisis – with the end of the furlough scheme – is likely to increase the number of people who rely on its emergency support.

So, in addition to seeking additional drop-off points, we are now planning to approach other churches and schools to see if we can further expand the network. We are also publicising the initiative on a wider basis to encourage people in other areas to start their own TinaB networks.


The current Tin in a Bin network is as follows:
  • 8 Drummond Road
  • 43 Langley Drive
  • 46 Overton Drive
  • 36 Felstead Road
  • 46 Buckingham Road
  • 17 Wanstead Place
  • 33 Nightingale Lane
  • 36 Dangan Road
  • 39 Leicester Road
  • 1 Warwick Road
  • 34 Seagry Road
  • 6 Woodcote Road
  • 2 Church Path
  • 76A New Wanstead
  • 106 Belgrave Road
  • 96 Harpenden Road, Aldersbrook
  • 28 Clavering Road, Aldersbrook
  • 36 Dover Road, Aldersbrook
  • 90 Wanstead Park Avenue, Aldersbrook
  • 4 Forest Close, Snaresbrook
  • 33 Deynecourt Gardens
  • 10 Eaton Rise
  • 14 Wellington Road
  • 29 Avon Way, South Woodford
  • 30 Rose Avenue, South Woodford
  • 27 Pelham Road, South Woodford
  • 99 Cadogan Gardens, South Woodford
  • 38 Eastwood Road, South Woodford
  • 18 Cranbourne Avenue,
  • 1 Hurstwood Avenue, South Woodford
  • 12 Richmond Way
  • 36 Bressey Grove
  • Outside Brading Food and Wine, Brading Crescent, Aldersbrook
The list of items needed is as follows:
  • Razors and shaving foam
  • Tooth paste and toothbrushes
  • Tinned Meat
  • Tinned Tomatoes
  • Tinned Potatoes
  • Tinned Fruit
  • Rice Pudding / Custard
  • Jam
  • Long Life Juice
  • Sugar
  • Toilet Paper
  • Small Bags of Rice
  • Shampoo
  • Squash
  • Deodorants
  • Tins or Packets of Custard
  • Peanut Butter
  • Shower Gel
  • Small Jar of Coffee/ tea bags
  • Small Multipack Snacks
Features

Back on the up

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Wanstead UpCycles was rocked by theft last month when three bicycles were stolen from the home of the charity’s founder Paul Canal. But things are on the up, thanks to the kindness of friends and strangers

Devastated and furious. That’s how I felt after the despicable theft. But from the lowest of lows, Wanstead UpCycles has bounced back, thanks to the generosity of local residents and the kindness of strangers.

Within days of the theft, friends Paul and Kam hand-built a taller fence, securing my back garden. A press appeal led to a flood of new donations, with several new bicycles to replace the three stolen ones. Our local Redbridge Police also came up trumps by offering recovered stolen bicycles they have been unable to reunite with their owners.

Wanstead UpCycles started out during lockdown, rehoming donated bicycles to low-income families and selling on surplus bicycles to raise money for Haven House Children’s Hospice. Wanstead UpCycles is now supported by an enthusiastic team of local volunteers, including teacher Mark Fodder, structural engineer Thierry Suc and telecoms engineer Mick Terry, who have all been a huge support. Their enthusiasm and bicycle knowledge has been essential to our success.

Wanstead UpCycles even has its own engineering apprentice after local teenager Mawusi Jones volunteered to help fix the donated bicycles. Mawusi is simply fantastic. He is keen and knowledgeable; an absolute credit to his family and school.

I have been overwhelmed by Wanstead UpCycles’ journey over the last four months. I started out with a target of raising £1,000 for Haven House, whose own fundraising has been hit hard by the pandemic. We have smashed that target, and thanks to the kindness of local people have raised over £2,500 and have a new target of £4,000.

We have rehomed over a dozen bicycles to lower-income families, replaced a nurse’s stolen bike and a toddler’s stolen tricycle, and repaired and refurbished over 40 bicycles that would otherwise have been languishing in a shed or destined for scrap.

Wanstead UpCycles still has several smaller child’s bikes available, from 12” to 20”. There is a waiting list for larger bikes, from 24” to adult bikes, including road, mountain and hybrid bikes. There is also a big demand for ladies “pashley” style bikes.

Through Wanstead UpCycles, I have met some amazing new friends. I start every Saturday with fresh bagels Thierry cycles in from Brick Lane, and I have had tremendous fun.

One of the best parts is seeing the broad smile on a child’s face as they choose and then cycle, or wobble off, on their new bicycle. There are few things as uplifting as a truly happy child.

If you have a bike you don’t ride, consider supporting Wanstead UpCycles with a donation. If you need a bike, and for more information, visit wnstd.com/upcycles
News

Wanstead’s Flamingo Fairs set to be in the pink next year

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Wanstead’s Flamingo Fairs have been postponed until next year after plans to resume the art and craft event this month were cancelled.

“The restricted number of people allowed in the venue, combined with Redbridge’s exceptionally high number of September Covid-19 cases, has made us reassess the schedule. Cancelling the fairs at the last moment would have been even more disappointing,” said organiser Donna Mizzi, who has been running the event at Wanstead Library’s Churchill Hall for nine years.

News

Litter pickers call for people to stop dumping face masks

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Litter pickers have called for people to dispose of face masks properly after 15 people joined last month’s socially distanced clean-up event.

“It was great to see people continuing to come out to keep the streets of Wanstead clean. One recurring theme, however, was the number of face masks that seem to just be discarded on the ground… it is selfish and irresponsible behaviour. Take the masks home and dispose of them appropriately,” said Councillor Paul Donovan. The next litter pick will take place on 17 October.

The event takes place on the third Saturday of the month from 10am, meeting on the corner of High Street and Woodbine Place.

Features

Welcome

1KH_8938.jpgSyrian refugees Obama Basheer, 8, holds her sister, Joud, 6 months

In the third of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area – Eleanor Taylor reports on the group’s Home Office application

Thanks to all the support we’ve received from people in Wanstead and the surrounding areas, we’ve been pressing ahead with our project to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area, and we’re delighted our application has been accepted.

When we last wrote in June, we were in the process of writing our application to the Home Office. This was a complex task that involved working with the Community Sponsorship Team at the Resettlement, Asylum Support and Integration department. We completed a long questionnaire, detailing how we will support the family and help them work towards independence once they are here. Our core group of volunteers were working for a number of months to complete the process.

Following submission, we had a detailed pre-approval meeting (virtually) with the Home Office in July. This was a nerve-racking experience, but we are pleased to say our application has recently been successful.

The timing couldn’t be better, as the situation for refugees across the world has become even more dangerous over the summer. The devastating explosion in the port of Beirut is estimated to have impacted thousands of Syrian refugees who had been forced to move to Lebanon, having already endured disaster in their home country. The family we will be welcoming to Wanstead will also be Syrian, displaced by the conflict there and currently living in a refugee camp in the Middle East. We have the opportunity to help one family escape from the constant dangers that life as a refugee can inflict.

There are still delays to the process due to Covid-19 restrictions, with UK embassies shut for visa applications. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration announced in mid-June that resettlement departures for refugees would be resuming, so we are looking forward to pressing ahead.

Our next steps are to prepare as much as we can while we wait for the various agencies to match us with a suitable family. We are preparing a guide to Wanstead, which we hope will tell the family everything they need to know about our community, and help them feel welcome as soon as they arrive.

We are so grateful for the ongoing support shown by everyone in Wanstead and the surrounding areas, and as soon as we know more about the family who will be joining us, we will need lots more help, especially from people who have experienced the system or who have relevant language skills. In the meantime, if you are able to help or would like to donate to our project, please get in touch.

For more information, follow the group on Twitter @RefugeeWanstead or email refugeewelcomewanstead@gmail.com
Features

Signs of the times

Paterson-Loarn-by-Geoff-Wilkinson© Geoff Wilkinson

Local resident Lorna Paterson is establishing a series of sign language bubbles in Wanstead to help people learn – and share – the skills for this important form of communication

Last month, I bumped into my neighbour at the supermarket. Usually, when we meet we have a chat, but this time we gazed helplessly into each other’s eyes, totally unable to communicate.

My neighbour, who is hearing impaired, was unable to read my lips because we were both wearing masks. She suffered hearing loss in later life and has never had an opportunity to learn how to sign, so my qualification in British Sign Language (BSL) was of no use to us.

This made me think of how good it would be if more people knew some common signed phrases. In a post on the Wanstead Community Hub on Facebook, I asked if anyone would like to learn a little BSL. Over 30 people responded, and at the time of writing, six of them have signed up to take part in the Wanstead BSL Project.

The deaf community is proud and independent, but for many people, the experience of hearing loss can be isolating. Children born with hearing impairments benefit from the amazing ‘deaf tech’ now available, but they also need community support. Loss of hearing is especially troublesome if it comes on in later life when it is more difficult to learn new ways to communicate.

Although, in theory, I am qualified to teach BSL Level One, I will not be running formal lessons. This project will be all about sharing and ‘cascading’ skills. Of course, it must also be Covid-secure. Here is the model I suggest. I hope it will result in a chain of ‘BSL bubbles’ cascading knowledge.

Firstly, I can meet five other people, outdoors and socially distanced, for one hour a week, to share basic information. This will be our basic bubble. Then, the five who have been with me in the basic bubble can each form a new Covid-secure bubble, with up to five other people at a time, to share what they have learned. Groups can form their own bubble of up to five to welcome a leader from the basic bubble.

If you are going to let me teach you this important form of communication, then you should probably know a bit more about me. I have lived in Wanstead for 40 years. I was Head of English in a high school in Waltham Forest until I chose to retire early. Now, I’m employed part-time, by a DFE-approved tuition agency, to support hearing impaired university students. I passed BSL Level Two last June at Havering Community College. I am not yet a fluent signer.

If you would like to take part in the Wanstead BSL Project, please get in touch. Let me know if you have any previous experience of using BSL or if you have any special reason for wishing to learn it. This information will be very useful in forming BSL bubbles.

For more information, email editor@wnstd.com or call 020 8819 6645