January 2021


Future for Whipps

palliatove-1A specialist palliative care room recently built by Ryder Architecture

In the seventh of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro discusses her concerns over the fact no specialist palliative care centre is planned for the new building

As we live through this second wave of the pandemic, staff in our hospitals across east London are doing incredible work at all levels and – as throughout the country – are under immense pressure. The importance of our NHS to the whole of our society is one thing that is clear. It now needs the investment.

Action 4 Whipps has put a call out to all east London MPs to secure sufficient government funding for our local hospital. It would be a travesty if this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a new hospital yielded the same, unsafe pressures as there are currently. High bed occupancy directly impacts safety. Research into patients admitted to intensive care from April to June 2020 found the risk of dying was almost a fifth higher in ICUs where more than 85% of beds were occupied.

The drive to reduce beds in our new hospital and keep costs down feels, to me, like it is dictating the shape of our services. Julie Donovan’s piece about the Margaret Centre in January’s issue emphasised just what we are at risk of losing. This pioneering Whipps Cross service should be working right now with the architects on new specialist facilities to realise their vision for patient care. Specialist palliative care units are far from an ‘outmoded model’, as we have heard them described.

The photo here shows one of the rooms in just such a unit, recently built in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary by our Whipps architects. Access to a patio from patient rooms so a bed can be taken outside has long been a dream of Margaret Centre staff. We deserve this here.

Barts Health has informed us that palliative care services will continue but be delivered differently. No specialist centre is planned. Hospice care at home will be increased, though few details are evident at present. Patients who need admitting will go to a single room wherever available in the hospital. This has not allayed our concerns. Single rooms will certainly offer greater privacy for patient and family than a curtained-off bed on the old general wards, but patients will not be in the care of specialist staff who know them and their family, as now in the Margaret Centre. Will a bed even be available at the time it is needed? Timeliness is fundamental… time is something these patients do not have.

In my view, there must now be real, meaningful and formal consultation with patients or their families, the local community, and staff who provide the service before decisions are taken, so the value and ethos of the service the Margaret Centre provides will not be lost, but can be enhanced. The right to be involved in decisions on such service change is set out in the NHS constitution.

If you feel the same, or if you have experience of the Margaret Centre or other palliative care services, please do get in touch.

To join the campaign or share views, email whipps.cross.campaign@gmail.com


Number Eight

IMG_81278 Sylvan Road, before the garden was cleared

Residents have united to fight plans to demolish the Victorian house at 8 Sylvan Road and replace it with several new flats. In the first of a series of articles, Kirsty Thomas explains the upset

A network of both local and non-local residents rallied together in recent months to support the objection to a planning request to demolish a beautiful, characterful, 150-year-old Victorian house in Snaresbrook.

The current owners of 8 Sylvan Road have applied to replace this historic building with several oversized modern flats (two one-bedroom, five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom residential units). Over 150 objections have been put to Redbridge Council to oppose this development, including support from the Wanstead Society, the Victorian Society and Councillor Jo Blackman.

This property was built alongside seven others in the 1870s, but sadly, two of them were destroyed in the Second World War. The remaining six distinctive houses, despite also withstanding substantial war damage repairs, continue to stand proud on Sylvan Road.

The Victorian Society – who are ‘the champion for Victorian and Edwardian architecture’ – have written to the council’s Planning Committee to say that: “Number eight [Sylvan Road] is a characterful house in its own right and also has wider group value, being one of six remaining houses of the late-19th century suburban development in the road. Although the road has been infilled with 20th-century housing, the interspersed Victorian dwellings still draw attention and have a positive impact on the streetscape. The loss of number eight would therefore not only constitute the loss of an attractive Victorian building but would also contribute towards the erosion of this character and further obscure the legibility of the initial 19th-century development in the area”.

They have made it very clear, as have most residents in their objections, that the property appears eminently suitable for refurbishment and conversion, if necessary. Demolition should not be a reasonable solution, especially considering Redbridge’s deceleration of a climate emergency in 2019 and the importance of recycling and reusing buildings to help tackle climate change.

The proposed flats are large, overpowering and characterless modern buildings, with both roof gardens and rear balconies which will remove any level of privacy for the neighbours. There is neither provision for parking nor socially affordable housing.

Our whole street feels terribly upset this house and the history associated with it could be completely wiped out in an instant. We are hoping the Planning Committee will listen to the local community and refuse the demolition of this historic building in the heart of our village, as we would like to see it still standing here in another 150 years’ time.

For full details about the proposed development, visit wnstd.com/8sylvan


Walk this way…

Screenshot-2021-01-19-at-10.25.22Local schools set to be included in the scheme include: Aldersbrook Primary School (pictured), Wanstead Church School, Snaresbrook Primary School and Nightingale Primary School

The roll-out of Redbridge Council’s School Streets scheme across the borough and in Wanstead will provide a safer environment for our kids, argues Councillor Jo Blackman (Wanstead Village, Labour)

The unprecedented Coroner’s Court ruling in December 2020 that air pollution made a material contribution to the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah was a stark reminder of the devastating impact of air pollution on children and vulnerable people. The direct link between car emissions, air pollution and death and ill health means we have a responsibility to do all we can to reduce air pollution around schools.

This is why Redbridge Council has been consulting on the roll-out of a series of School Streets. These are where temporary restrictions on vehicles are introduced at school drop-off and pick-up times on a small number of roads around a school – usually for an hour at the start and end of each school day. The scheme discourages drivers from taking non-essential journeys through the roads covered by the scheme at these times.

School Streets are enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras with penalties of £65 (if paid within 14 days) and £130 (if paid after 14 days). Free exemptions are available for vehicles used by residents and businesses that are located within the school street, deliveries, health and social care visits and for children with a disability who attend the school. Emergency vehicles are, of course, automatically exempt.

As well as reducing levels of air pollution at school entrances, School Streets protect children from traffic at the school gate. I have seen first hand the real risks to children’s safety caused by school-run traffic and we know that residents are also concerned about excessive school traffic on their streets and poor parking.

The scheme also aims to encourage more children to walk and cycle to school. The initiative is accompanied by measures to promote sustainable and active travel through a school Travel Plan, backed by the TfL Stars (Sustainable Travel: Active, Responsible, Safe) scheme. Measures can include infrastructure, such as cycle shelters, cycling courses, walking maps and pupil engagement, such as themed lessons. Evidence shows that School Streets reduce traffic and increase active travel levels.

Following successful pilot School Street locations (Fairlop Primary, Saints Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary and Gordon Primary Schools), consultations are now taking place for schemes around 10 additional schools across Redbridge, including five in the Wanstead and Woodford area, with more in the pipeline. All rsidents are encouraged to contribute to the consultation (open until 14 February) to help shape this scheme.

As we look forward to a time when our children can return to school and mix with their friends again, let’s hope we can also give them a safer environment.

For more information on Redbridge School Streets, visit wnstd.com/schoolstreets


Wanstead sign language project: a community success story


A number of Wanstead residents have started learning British Sign Language (BSL) following the publication of an article in the Wanstead Village Directory last year.

“Nine people contacted me after the article appeared. Three of them do not use technology, so we were only able to meet once before the autumn lockdown. Others joined me for weekly Zoom sessions. At Christmas, some of us joined a signing choir to learn how to sign carols,” said Lorna Paterson, who established the Wanstead BSL Project.

Visit wnstd.com/sign


Streets apart?

IMG_5334-2Outside Nightingale Primary School on Ashbourne Avenue

Implementing the School Streets scheme at Nightingale Primary School may have unintended consequences, argues local resident Steve Wilks, who believes better planning is needed

The proposal to implement the School Streets scheme at Nightingale Primary School has divided opinion in the neighbourhood. The School Streets programme is part of a wider initiative to reduce levels of air pollution at school entrances, protect children from traffic at the school gates and encourage more children to walk and cycle to school.

The intention behind the proposal is completely sensible and worthwhile, and it is right for the council to work towards these laudable goals. However, as is often in the case in reality, this solution may have unintended consequences, and it may need a fresh review of the original problem.

The proposal is that, during term time, non-residential vehicular traffic will be prohibited from driving along certain roads in the vicinity of the school at the start and end of the school day. Residents affected were sent a letter explaining the details. Any vehicle breaking the prohibition will be punished with a Penalty Charge Notice.

One of the inevitable consequences of creating such zones is the knock-on effect it has on other roads. If parents cannot park in the roads prohibited, they will park in the other roads not in the zone to avoid a fine. The key roads affected will be Charnwood Drive and Colvin Gardens. This is already a busy area, with traffic coming from the W12 bus route, meaning air pollution will become worse for these residents. Therefore, will this policy have a net environmental benefit to the neighbourhood overall if the bad air quality is just pushed from one road to others?

Other roads, such as Onslow Gardens, Cadogan Gardens and South View Drive, will also suffer the displacement effects, meaning parking and getting out will be made more complex for residents there.

In addition, given the current coronavirus crisis, traffic overall has declined to levels last seen in the 1980s, but the type of trips has changed. More supermarket deliveries are now being made and we often have to book any delivery time slot available. If there are restrictions on times that delivery drivers can come in and out of our roads, then this may prove problematic for some. In addition, builders and other contractors will be inconvenienced, and so it is hoped there will be some flexibility for these situations in the permit allocation.

Given the crisis the nation is facing, any initiative that makes things more difficult for essential drivers and contractors is unwelcome. Life has to go on and the council needs to look more widely at the impacts of a ban and the consequences which may negate the benefits overall. More thought needs to be put into this.

For more information on Redbridge School Streets, visit wnstd.com/schoolstreets


Power to help


Becoming a mental health first aider is empowering, says Aldersbrook resident Katharine McKnight, who has launched a series of courses to teach people the vital skills needed

Mental health first aid (MHFA) has become a very popular subject over the last few years. But what does it actually involve?

As with physical first aid qualifications, there is no obligation to assist. The first priority is your safety and the safety of others. With physical first aid, you are covered under the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act (2015), which protects you when you have provided reasonable assistance in an emergency. There is clearly parity needed between physical and mental health first aid, but from its infancy in Australia in 2001, the increase in training has led to greater empathy.

Whilst any individual can provide MHFA, undertaking a course can be helpful to recognise clusters of symptoms. It is a triage, not a diagnostic, tool. It provides a vital opportunity to listen, and allow others to be heard whilst encouraging them to move forward.

I first completed MHFA training in 2014, having experienced mental health concerns myself, and supporting those around me. The following year, I volunteered for 18 months with The Mix, a helpline for those under 25. In the last few years, I have myself seen a dip in my own mental health, and on recovery, I wanted to upskill to support others more effectively.

I cannot explain enough how vital informal support and signposting is to those in need. I trained as an instructor with Nuco Training. I am now able to teach Level 1, 2 and 3 via distance learning (and in person when safe to do so). It is beneficial for anyone wanting to support others or improve their own mental health. I would love everyone to have this opportunity and to empower as many people as possible to support others.

My accredited course, validated by the Regulated Qualifications Framework and valid for three years, will introduce students to the CARE model and how it can support difficult conversations whilst having a wider understanding of signs, symptoms and misconceptions.

Levels 1 and 2 provide a shorter, less comprehensive but nonetheless important knowledge base. I am taking my knowledge further by volunteering for Shout, an anonymous text support service that can be accessed by any age group by texting SHOUT to 85258. Key workers can text the word FRONTLINE to the same number.

If you are interested in finding out more about my next course, running on Thursday evenings throughout March with an assessment around Easter (or using the recording option to catch up if you cannot make the live sessions), please get in touch.

For more information on the courses, use the links below:

Level 1 (£30): www.nucotraining.com/first-aid-for-mental-health-l1/

Level 2 (£60): www.nucotraining.com/first-aid-for-mental-health-l2/

Level 3 (£120): www.nucotraining.com/first-aid-for-mental-health-l3/

The next Level 3 course is running on the following dates:

Thursday 4, 11, 18 and 25 March 2021, between 7:30pm and 9pm.

Level 1 and 2 courses can be booked on request.

Contact: Katharine McKnight: katharine_adair@hotmail.com or by WhatsApp 07426 742 464


Wanstead author (and pirate) publishes second novel for teenagers

Screenshot 2021-01-27 at 09.24.24

Wanstead author and actor Joseph Elliott has published his second novel.

The Broken Raven is part of a fantasy trilogy for young teenagers and features a protagonist with Down’s syndrome.

“Children with special educational needs (SEN) have always been part of my life. My mother is a primary school teacher specialising in SEN and, as a child, my parents provided foster care for kids with additional needs,” said Joseph, who is best known for playing Cook, a pirate in the CBeebies series Swashbuckle.

Visit wnstd.com/elliott


Commemorative print of Wanstead Park’s historic cattle-grazing trial

cowprint-1©Karen Humpage

Local artist Karen Humpage has created a painting to mark the return of cows grazing in Wanstead Park.

Three cows – Quinine, Nina and Nuru – took part in the City of London Corporation’s successful trial last autumn, with grazing now set to become an annual fixture in the park.

“We were all very excited last September when the longhorn cattle graced Wanstead Park with their presence. Of course, having spent the last few years painting pictures of cows in the community, the opportunity to create an up-to-date painting of cows in Wanstead was just too good to miss. I visited the park one hot and bright Sunday in order to see the cows, only to find half of Wanstead and Aldersbrook were there too! I decided to include onlookers in the painting as they were an integral part of my visit,” said Karen, who is donating £5 from every £29 print sold to the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

“I’ve had quite a few orders and I have been able to pass on £140 to them so far.”

Visit wnstd.com/cowprint


Handcrafted Little Free Library opens its doors in Aldersbrook

lib2-1The library is located at the side of the community centre, facing Brading Food and Wine

A Little Free Library has been installed on the Brading Crescent estate in Aldersbrook.

“We have been aiming for a Little Free Library for a few months now. After making enquiries on social media, Chris Muzzlewhite, a local handyman who also volunteers with Aldersbrook Riding School, came to our rescue. He has created, incredibly speedily, a beautiful library for us. The craftsmanship is wonderful… Feel free to take a book you want to read or swap for one you want to donate,” said resident Katharine McKnight.


Wanstead’s festival of nightingales: call out for local creatives

nightigale-1©Kathy Taylor

Local artists, singers and nature lovers are invited to participate in a community celebration of the nightingale bird this autumn.

“An idea is brewing for a poetic and magical one-night-only event in Wanstead to celebrate the nightingale. Are you a performer of poetry, music or song? Are you in a choir? Maybe you’re a storyteller? Do you have printing, sculpture or design skills, or are you good at inspiring children? Would you like to be part of the organising team for this event?” asks Kathy Taylor.

For more information, email ksmtaylor@me.com


Working with pride

JoaBlackman-Councillor Jo Blackman

Councillor Jo Blackman (Wanstead Village, Labour) outlines her priorities following her appointment to Redbridge Council’s cabinet, with responsibility for the environment and civic pride

In recent years, particularly since becoming a parent, I have become increasingly concerned about the climate emergency and threats facing the environment. Evidence of the immediacy of the climate crisis and human-driven mass extinction leaves me wondering what legacy we are leaving our children.

Concern for the environment, combined with a desire to see more women and working parents represented on the council, motivated me to stand as a councillor in the 2018 local elections. So, I am pleased to have recently been appointed by council leader Councillor Jas Athwal to Redbridge Council’s cabinet, leading on the environment and civic pride. Alongside this role, I will continue as a councillor for Wanstead Village, with fellow ward councillors Daniel Morgan-Thomas and Paul Donovan.

The cabinet is the main decision-making body of the council and is made up of councillors from across the borough from the governing party. I’m particularly proud of the diversity of Redbridge’s cabinet, which includes 50% women and councillors from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities, ages and professions. Cabinet meetings take place monthly and are streamed live, with the opportunity for residents to ask questions. All relevant papers are also made public and can be found on the council website. My portfolio covers a range of issues, including climate change, transport, parking, waste, street cleansing and the environment.

I have been inspired by the work underway locally to enhance the environment and improve biodiversity – community gardeners, grow zones and litter picks. I believe there is much we can do working together.

Along with Councillor Paul Donovan, I led efforts to get the council to declare a climate emergency in 2019. I have since contributed to the subsequent corporate panel report on the measures the council could take to reduce their own emissions and will now be leading on putting those measures into action. Immediate priorities also include overseeing a borough-wide roll-out of wheelie bins.

As we’re becoming increasingly aware of the impact of air pollution on the health of our children and vulnerable residents, we are stepping up our action to encourage walking and cycling. Moves to restrict the use of cars around schools (School Streets) will be crucial to this effort, alongside promoting more sustainable ways of getting around.

These changes aren’t easy. This work is also complicated by the pandemic engulfing our communities and draining an already stretched council budget. But doing nothing is not an option if we are to tackle air pollution, climate change and environmental destruction, and if we want to leave a better future for generations to come.

To contact Councillor Jo Blackman, email Jo.Blackman@redbridge.gov.uk