November 2020

Features

Home activist

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In the first of a two-part rebel guide for the home activist, Wanstead Climate Action member Tina Nieman Da Costa explains how your food and finance choices can help save the environment

In these uncertain times, now that Covid is back (or never left), it is easy to become overwhelmed by a feeling of powerlessness. The tentative – and sometimes confusing – urgings of the government are not helping, and occasionally, they need to be reminded of the issues that remain unresolved.

Taking your carefully worded, attention-grabbing placard on the virus-riddled Tube and onto the virus-riddled streets of Westminster to be a visible reminder of dissatisfaction of the establishment may add to the growing infection rate, and you don’t want to be that guy. But this does not mean you, as an activist, are now restricted to angry ramblings on social media, the modern equivalent to shouting down the Tower of Babel. Instead, take flight into new avenues of civil disobedience. Here are a few ways to make an effective statement of rebellion and take on the man from the comfort of your home office.

Eat well and exercise
The hard facts are in and it’s true the food industry – including transport, production and waste – impacts heavily on the climate. Small changes to your eating habits can drastically reduce your carbon output. Eat local, eat organic and if you can, have vegan days or go plant-based completely. Combine this with a healthy diet and regular exercise to live a healthier life for longer.

Obesity is the second-highest impacting factor on GDP, costing the UK £27 billion a year in services, the main causes being food and inactivity. By making good choices now, you can guarantee extra resources for future generations, reduce pollution and stick it to a food system that prioritises profit over health.          

Reassess your money power
Money matters may be boring, but money matters matter. On 10 January 2019, The Guardian published “UK councils invest £566m in arms firms linked to the Yemen war,” an article by Rob Davis detailing lists of local councils using pension funds to invest in Saudi armament sales. Do you know what your money is doing? Pensions make up £3 trillion of investments in the UK, which include funds supporting fossil fuels and tobacco, as well as arms trading.

Exert political and economic pressure on institutions by divesting. Speak to your money manager or visit makemymoneymatter.co.uk to see what your options are and how your money can make a difference. Ethical funds have seen a steady rise against recent trends, so moving your money makes sense. Make your pension an effective weapon against climate change and all manner of shady dealings. Or as one money manager put it: “Why would you invest in your future, in funds actively working against you actually having a future?”

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

Memorial bench for Jill Stock on Wanstead High Street

001_Jill_Stock-copyJill Stock (22 May 1947 – 25 May 2019)

A fundraiser has been launched to pay for a bench on the High Street in memory of former Wanstead resident Jill Stock, who was tragically killed following a road traffic collision last year.

“As many of you know, Mum was one of the most community-minded people you could ever meet… Mum was a friend to so many, she would do anything to help someone in need,” said Jill’s daughter Kate Gloudemans.

Any money raised in excess of the £2,000 target will be used for other local community projects.

Visit wnstd.com/forjill

News

Wanstead’s Christmas tree lights switched on early

L1220859©Geoff Wilkinson

The lights on Wanstead’s Christmas tree on George Green were switched on early this year.

“The trees are normally installed with the lights ready to be switched on at community events. As there are no organised events this year due to government restrictions, it was decided to switch them on as they were installed,” said a Redbridge Council spokesperson.

Last year, more than 150 residents attended the switch-on event, when local milkman Steve Hayden flicked the switch to illuminate the tree opposite the station.

News

Chutneys for charity: brother and sister sell condiment for good causes

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A brother and sister from South Woodford are raising money for Cancer Research UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital by making and selling chutneys to order.

“During this festive season, our chutneys will make lovely Christmas gifts while helping raise money for fantastic causes! There is a good variety to choose from – including apple, plum, mango and tomato – and they will go perfectly with your crackers after a heavy Christmas dinner!” said Dina and Riad Hoque, aged 17 and 13 respectively.

Visit chutneysforcharity.com

Features

Winter protection

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Back in July, Adem Esen from Wiseman Lee explained the changes to residential tenancies caused by COVID-19. With more changes now in force ahead of winter, the local solicitor provides an update

Since my last article in the July edition, there have been further changes to residential tenancies. Landlords or their agents must now give tenants six months’ notice before they can start eviction proceedings, except in the most serious of cases, such as incidents of antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse. This change came into effect on 1 September.

Possession notices served on or before 28 August are not affected by these changes and must be for at least three months.

Exceptions apply for the worst cases to seek possession. These are antisocial behaviour (now four weeks’ notice), domestic abuse (now two to four weeks’ notice), over six months’ accumulated rent arrears (now four weeks’ notice) and breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now three months’ notice).

In addition, new court rules have been agreed to confirm landlords will need to set out in their claim any relevant information about a tenant’s circumstances, including information on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will have the ability to adjourn proceedings.

“We have developed a package of support for renters to ensure they continue to be protected over winter. I have changed the law so that renters are protected by a six-month notice period until March 2021… These changes will support landlords to progress the priority cases while keeping the public safe over winter. We will keep these measures under review and decisions will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice,” said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Jenrick added: “We are conscious of the pressure on landlords during this difficult time and do not want to exacerbate this. Of course, it is important that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.”

With the introduction of the new notice periods, the government has recognised that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. The effect of this is that the duration of a Notice Seeking Possession will differ depending upon which ground you are relying upon and, essentially, the rent arrears cases where the arrears are more than six months old, as well as antisocial behaviour cases, can be progressed more quickly than other types of cases.

In business rent cases, the freeze on landlords taking action for non-payment of rent has been further extended until 31 December 2020. However, commercial tenants are encouraged to pay their rent where possible.

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

Floating ideas

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Rising at Molehill Green in Essex, the River Roding passes through the Wanstead and Woodford area en route to the Thames, bringing with it a very real flood risk to local homes. In the 11th of a series of articles, Nina Garner from the Environment Agency reports on the River Roding Project, which aims to reduce that risk. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how important it is to take care of our vulnerable neighbours. In England, there are over five million homes at risk of flooding, many of which are home to vulnerable people who may be worse affected during and after a flooding event.

We know the effects of flooding, physical and mental, can last for years after a flood has happened, so by looking out for your neighbours, you can help your loved ones and the community recover more quickly.

In our previous articles, we have emphasised the importance of being prepared and being more resilient. As winter nears, here is a reminder of some positive actions you can take.

Create a personal flood plan
This will help to protect you, your loved ones and your possessions.

Help us establish a flood action group
This brings the local community together to talk about local flooding issues and helps to form a proactive group of residents that can support each other during an emergency.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at work, retired, need additional mobility help or just generally have limited time – it’s great to get involved in any way you can. Even if you don’t live in a flood risk area, your help can be valuable in helping others respond without the worry that your own property is in danger.

Help your community prepare for flooding
Are you part of a local group? Whether that be a religious group, a running club, a dog walking group, a book club or something else, could you help share our messages?

Staggeringly, only a third of people who live in areas at risk of flooding believe their property is at risk! And with climate change already causing more frequent, intense flooding, we all need to know what to do in a flood. Even small actions like encouraging your neighbours to sign up to flood warnings can be a massive help and save lives.

Create a community flood plan
A really great way to help protect your community from the worst effects of flooding can be to create a community flood plan. These plans can help you decide what practical actions to take before, during and after a flood, ultimately reducing the damage the flooding can cause. This requires your help and local knowledge.

The immediate effects of climate change mean flooding is predicted to happen more frequently, so it is more important than ever to get involved.

If you have any ideas, big or small, about how we can raise awareness of flood risk in your local community, please get in touch. Or, if you’d like to find out more information about how you can help, please do let us know.

River Roding Project update
The River Roding Project team are busy progressing the detail designs. The team recently visited a neighbouring Environment Agency flood storage area, to make sure we are feeding best practice and learn valuable lessons from the team who look after the structure into our design.

We have also been preparing the Flood Risk Activity Permits to start digging archaeological trial trenches in November at the upstream site in Essex. This will help us to explore the site in more detail to see if there are any historic environmental assets on site. By doing these investigations, we can ensure that any archaeological heritage is preserved at the site.

Please keep an eye out for upcoming River Roding Project engagement events in March or April 2021.

To find out if your property is a flood risk, visit wnstd.com/flood
To register for flood warnings, visit wnstd.com/floodwarn
To check the River Roding webcam, visit wnstd.com/rodingcam
For more information on the River Roding Project, visit wnstd.com/rrp or call 0370 850 6506
Features

Future for Whipps

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In the sixth of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro discusses sustainability and explains why nature and biodiversity are vital for the new building

With the architect team appointed, the design of the new hospital is now under way. A series of public virtual meetings are being held by Barts Health NHS Trust. And Action 4 Whipps community campaign is up and running, fighting for the hospital we need, along with a sustainability-focused action group. 

Ryder Architecture are leading the design team and have partnered with Hoare Lea as the sustainability advisors. All of us who have been calling for the new hospital to be net zero-carbon and designed to the highest sustainability and well-being standards can, I believe, be happy to have had some influence on this selection.

Hoare Lea has worked closely with the UK Green Building Council in developing a net zero-carbon framework for building. Through the Green at Barts health staff group I met with James Ford – the company’s lead for sustainability, who said just how significant a project Whipps is – and Chris Pottage, who contributed to the World Green Building Council research on health well-being and productivity in offices. Chris is determined that staff work areas must be designed to the highest standards for their well-being, something he has seen commonly neglected in hospital builds.

Building for net zero-carbon is a step-change, to which, said James, the building industry is responding. Health and well-being is integral to sustainability, and they both emphasised their belief, backed by a fast-growing body of research, in how important nature and biodiversity are for human well-being.

During the first of a series of public meetings by Barts Health Trust last month, we had a glimpse of possible designs for the hospital, to be located where the old nurses’ home currently stands. All the options appeared to offer access to outside views throughout the building, in contrast to the monolithic block type design of the Royal London. It was good to hear from Paul Bell, lead architect, talking of the building orientation to bring in the warmth of the sun and light, and the value of green space and biodiversity. However, many of us in the audience noticed what appeared to be minimal green space allocated around the hospital itself, and are asking if enough of the site is being retained for healthcare use and future expansion.

The strongest concern was over too few beds. People found the level of optimism in the presentations as to how far the need for hospital care will be avoided through improvements to community services to be “at odds with the reality on the ground”.

Neither a hospital of the right size for our growing population, nor a zero-carbon hospital will happen without us fighting for it. You too can get involved in the campaigns.

For information on future public meetings and to get involved, email whipps.cross.campaign@gmail.com
Features

Why can’t you see me?

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Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into her life with cerebral palsy. In the fourth of a series of articles, Grace pretends to be vegan whilst eating meat

Hi. It’s a new month, so you know what that means, you get to see me again, well, hear me, well… you get what I mean! So, let me fill you in.

Basically, I keep forgetting what I’m going to write about, so I was just editing a new YouTube video and my phone started playing up. Then I remembered I need to write, so here’s what I’ve got for you this month.

I went back to college – yes, I went back, finally! Before Covid-19, I hated going to college. I don’t know why, I just did. Well, anything to do with education I hate, I just find it boring really.

But I’ve actually been enjoying going to college now. It gets me out of the house and I get to see my mates. Plus, I get to annoy the members of staff, so I can’t really complain about it, and it’s only 10am to 2pm, so not long at all.

At the end of lockdown, I came up with an idea of making hampers. I bought two massive, plastic bucketfuls of stuff for the hampers, but they haven’t gone far at all. I’ve made two, one for my mate’s birthday and one for my nan’s birthday, and that’s it. I’ve set up an Instagram page called ‘Hampers by Gracie’ and posted samples of some hampers, but no one has contacted me. Oh well, hopefully soon I’ll get some interest.

To be honest, COVID is really starting to annoy me now because for the past five years I’ve been going on holiday to this adaptive adventure type thing (The Calvert Trust). If you didn’t think someone in a wheelchair can wall climb, zip wire, crate stack, well, think again! I must say, one of the activity leaders is fit. I mean FIT! He’s got a load of tattoos. The only thing we don’t have in common is that he’s a vegan and I love my meat. But me being me, trying to impress, I told him I was vegan as well. Then he saw me eating a meat lasagna and he said that isn’t vegan, so I told him that my assistant got two dinners for herself!

Another thing I can’t do this year is the Christmas show at Chicken Shed Theatre. It’ll be the first time in nine years that I haven’t been in a Christmas show, so that will feel a bit odd, but hopefully, I might be able to go to more places.

I’ve seen this really cute cafe on Instagram where all the influencers go, so hopefully, I’ll go there and get some good pictures.

So, yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say really, and if you’re wondering about my new video, I’ve finally scheduled it to go live. So head over to my YouTube channel, give it a watch and subscribe!

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

For the trees

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For Art Group Wanstead member Emma Davies, oil painting provided a much-needed distraction from the stresses of lockdown, with trees and changing landscapes among her inspirations

At first, I thought there was nothing good about lockdown. Six months later, I have experimented with textures and different ways of making marks in my oil paintings. A privilege to have some time to be, to paint and reflect.

Painting became my respite from lockdown and the computer screen for work. The horrors of the news and the suffering of family and friends faded away for a while. Walking the dog every day on Wanstead Flats was my daily trip out. As my world narrowed, I became more observant, watching the grasses emerge and the landscape change.

I’m an amateur artist and an academic. I’ve been painting for more than a decade. I particularly love the feel of oil paint, experimenting with different ways of applying paint to canvas. As well as brushes and palette knives, I use squeegees, feathers, sticks, sponges and anything I can find to apply and remove layers of paint. I’m inspired by many different artists, from Botticelli to Mark Bradford and Per Kirkeby.

The last exhibition I visited just before lockdown was Among the Trees at the Hayward Gallery. It was fantastic. Inspired by the artworks, I painted Stories, the oil on canvas depicted here (60cm x 120cm). I also painted an ode to NHS workers, which I put in our front window to say thank you.

I’ve missed Art Trail Wanstead this year, having exhibited for the last couple of years in shops, restaurants and pubs. The trail is exciting and a great opportunity to show my work, and to see everyone else’s illuminating all our local businesses. The trail is a whole community effort. We’ll no doubt do it again just as soon as we can.

To view more of Emma’s artwork, visit emmadaviesart.com. Some of Emma’s paintings can also be viewed at Filika Restaurant, 62 High Street, Wanstead. For more information on Art Group Wanstead, visit wnstd.com/art