November 2021


‘Cook an extra Christmas dinner’ initiative returns to Wanstead: can you help?


An initiative to supply Christmas dinner to local residents in need and those living on their own will return to Wanstead next month.

“Last year, we organised the ‘Cook an extra Christmas Dinner’ project, where local families cooked an extra meal that was given to a person in need… If you could provide an extra plate for someone and drop it round to them on Christmas Day, please let me know. If we get enough offers, we should be able to match people fairly locally. In addition, if you know of someone who would benefit from having a Christmas meal, please get in touch. I am especially interested in offers and requests for vegan and vegetarian meals, and other dietary requirements, so we can match cooks and diners more effectively this year,” said organiser Paul Canal.

Join the Facebook group here, email or text 07769 159 433


Cleaner & Greener

An electric vehicle charging point on Halstead Road, WansteadAn electric vehicle charging point on Halstead Road, Wanstead

In the fourth of a series of articles providing an update on the Cleaner Greener Wanstead initiative, Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) explains why the power of one should not be underestimated

If the climate and biodiversity crises are to be overcome, then it is up to each of us to change our behaviours. There has been much talk of the need to get back to normal after Covid, yet it was the old normal that helped create the pandemic as well as the climate and biodiversity crises.

The new normal has to be one where everyone takes up the responsibility of living more simply and lightly on Earth. Individual action is a key strand of the Cleaner Greener Wanstead Charter.

The basic things that need to change are less driving and flying, greater use of sustainable energy sources, eating less meat and using locally produced items.

Less use of the car with more active travel is vital. Infrastructure to improve this modal shift in transport also has to come, but a greater willingness from all of us to walk, cycle and use public transport can help this happen. The arrival of more electric cars, with supporting infrastructure, will also help, of course.

An element of the old normal that there seems to have been a real rush to restore is flying all over the world. This virtually stopped for much of the pandemic period. Whilst restrictions were slowly lifted on many areas of life, there seemed to be a rush to get back onto those planes. Yet the aviation industry contributes significantly to emissions. Some journeys cannot be avoided, but staycations need to become a part of our lives far more.

The opportunities to have renewable energy systems was examined last month, but it is an area where progress can be made, given the will.

We probably eat too much meat, so reduction would be good, but maybe more important is what is consumed is produced in a humane and environmentally sensitive way. There is also the possibility to grow more of our own food, either in gardens (if you have one) or on allotments or community gardens. All of these things help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

We also need to stop producing waste. Recycling is good and needs to be encouraged, but there has to be less waste produced in the first place.

When all of these actions are taken together, it makes for a significant change in the way life is lived. It means thinking of the community where we live and beyond that, to our sisters and brothers across the world. What is for sure is the climate and biodiversity crises can only be overcome with a genuine coming together of people at all levels of society. This has begun in our own small way in Wanstead, but there is still some way to go.

For more information on the initiative, visit


Flat-out advice

Geoffrey Williams from local solicitors Wiseman Lee talks about lease extensions and explains why a government proposal that would reduce the cost of extending shorter leases may not come to fruition

If you own a flat or are thinking of buying one, you must check how many years are left on your lease. Why? Because as the remaining term – the number of years left to run – shortens, the value of the flat will fall.

If the remaining term is about 125 years, this isn’t too serious. If it’s around 90 years, you should do something about it.

Fortunately, if you have owned the flat for two years, you have a legal right to extend the term by 90 years, but you have to pay compensation to the landlord. How much you have to pay depends mainly on the value of the flat and the remaining term, so the shorter the remaining term, the more you will have to pay.

You would need to get a surveyor to advise how much you may have to pay. Don’t forget, if you do claim a lease extension, you will have to pay most of your landlord’s costs as well as your own. You can get a rough idea of how much you may have to pay by visiting the Leasehold Advisory Service website (, where you will find a premium calculator.

There is an unpleasant surprise in store if your remaining term is less than 80 years. The amount to pay suddenly increases. This is because you then have to pay something called marriage value. There is a hidden value in the flat that neither the landlord nor the tenant can individually access. It can only be unlocked by uniting – marrying – the landlord’s and the tenant’s interests in the flat. Extending your lease does just that.

The rule is the landlord gets none of the marriage value if the remaining term is more than 80 years when the tenant makes the claim. If there are less than 80 years left, the landlord gets half of the marriage value.

The government announced last January that they intend to abolish completely the marriage value element of the compensation paid to the landlord. If this happens, there will be a big reduction in the amount tenants have to pay to extend shorter leases.

If you have a shorter lease, you may think you will be better off waiting until the law changes. You might be wrong, though. There is no timetable yet for changing the law. Also, the change may well be challenged by big freeholders, as it will slash the value of their property, so the law change may never happen. If it doesn’t and you delay extending your lease, the amount you will have to pay is almost certain to go up.

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


I love Wanstead

Nick, left, with his hairdresser IanNick, left, with his hairdresser Ian

From Wanstead Park’s tea hut to Wanstead High Street’s haircut, Nick Park explains why he loves Wanstead, having ‘discovered’ this ‘stylish surprise’ less than 10 years ago

My adoration for Wanstead was born in the summer of 2012 when I met my partner. I bow my head shamefully that, before then, I had not heard of this gem. There is a famous saying that typifies my view on Wanstead, stating: “The interesting thing about London is that there are always stylish surprises around every corner.”

There are plenty of lovely green spaces where we can cherish precious moments, like Christchurch Green, where families can relax and enjoy picnics, watching the children play. There is Wanstead Park, with its lakes and woodland scenery, and you can marvel at the wildlife that flock there, creating their habitats – with birds in chorus. An ice cream at the Wanstead Park tea hut is a must in the summer, or a hot cup of tea in a mug to warm the hands during winter. Wanstead Flats should not be forgotten, where the football teams commence battle or we can take part in a Parkrun, giving us a wonderful chance to meet fellow runners.

During my affiliation with Wanstead, it is not unnoticed that there is an excellent community spirit. Events during the year signify this where they bring us together, like the fireworks display, which is a grand spectacle. Or the carol singing in atmospheric surroundings over Christmas; a happy vibe is in evidence and everyone is always willing to help others.

My fiancé and I now live near Epping, sadly, although we did derive from Queenswood Gardens and adored sampling the historical and modern architecture as we made our way to Wanstead High Street. This speaks for all of Wanstead, indicating why it is a popular place to buy property.

As for the glory of Wanstead High Street, I have not been to another that has given me greater satisfaction, nestled in a place where there is a huge cultural diversity. There are more than a few cafés spread along and in the vicinity of the High Street, which are all a must-see, especially with the vast selection of cakes on display; it is a difficult choice. It’s also the same for restaurants and takeaways, housing food from different parts of the world. And then there are seven public houses in all, which I love, having their own characteristics and an east London feel to them. Included is a vibrant ambience all year round.

The barber shops should get a mention, providing a splendid service with banter ablaze in all. I use Wanstead Hairdressers where you will find Paul and Ian orchestrating what I have highlighted here.

I could go on and on and am positive I have missed things out which others might add themselves. This is the beauty of the area and the reason why I love Wanstead.

If you would like to explain why you love Wanstead, email


Our green and pleasant land

Ahead of a virtual meeting of Redbridge Council’s new climate forum, Councillor Jo Blackman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride, outlines plans to improve greenery across the borough. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The pandemic made us all realise the importance of green space in and around our neighbourhoods. The benefits of green space are extensive and well documented – for our own health and well-being as well as for the global climate, nature and biodiversity.

Redbridge Council has recently undertaken a thorough review and update of its policies for managing our green space. For the first time ever, we have a Green Urban Landscape Policy that puts nature and an equitable distribution of green space at its heart.

Nearly 500 people participated in the consultation, showing the value our residents also put on our green space – with environmental concerns and societal benefits featuring prominently in the submissions.

In line with the views received, our new strategy puts the needs of residents and nature at its heart as it sets out how the council will protect, manage and improve greenery and trees.

The action plan included in the policy sets out a number of actions the council will take over the next three years.

We aim to plant over 2,000 new highway trees in addition to several hundred replacement trees, and to replant many shrubs that have been lost from highway beds. This is in addition to thousands more trees that will be planted on other sites across the borough as we seek to support the London-wide target of a 10% increase in canopy cover by 2050.

We have trialled a number of grow zones across the borough where we left grass verges to grow to benefit biodiversity. Initial studies of these sites have revealed an incredible variety of plants and insects, with over 100 different plants identified. We therefore plan to increase these to cover 50,000 square metres across the borough, which equates to 25% of high grass verges.

Our new policy rightly recognises that we need to work with residents to promote the value of our green space, and to help us protect, manage and enhance it.

Our tree pit adoption scheme saw over 1,300 tree pits signed up for adoption this year and we are aiming to double this. Next year, we’ll also be giving away free packets of wild flower seeds to all those who adopt a tree pit. So, make sure you adopt yours – all those who have previously adopted them will need to reapply again this year.

We’re grateful to all our community groups, including the Wanstead and Woodford Community Gardeners, Wild Wanstead and the South Woodford urban orchard, as well as those that maintain the green space around our places of worship and schools. These groups play a vital role, enhancing our natural environment and building strong communities. To support these and other groups across the borough, we’re giving away a record 50,000 bulbs this year for planting in publicly accessible sites.

We also want to encourage people to improve greenery on private land and we will soon be publishing details of our winter fruit tree giveaway.

Finally, we will be hosting an online session on 1 December to explain more about our plans to improve greenery and tackle climate change and how you can get involved.

Applications to adopt a tree pit close on 30 November. Visit

To take part in the virtual meeting of Redbridge Council’s new climate forum (1 December, 6.30pm), visit


A lot to lose

Michael Jacques and Clare GrantMichael Jacques and Clare Grant

In the sixth of a series of articles by plot holders at the Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat – Deborah Williams of Sprout There! introduces two people for whom the site is very important

Since Cadent gas company has requested to use the Redbridge Lane West allotments to undertake maintenance on their adjacent site, there has been an outpouring of support to preserve this precious green space.

Sprout There! (Uniting Friends) is a horticulture project for adults with learning disabilities based at the allotment. We provide our members not just practical skills but a social and therapeutic space for everyone who attends. For some who have struggled with isolation and their mental health, being at our allotment can be a transformative experience. To lose the site, its community and its biodiversity would be yet another blow. Just listen to Michael and Clare’s story.

Michael Jacques (volunteer)
I have looked after my brother Paul who has Down’s syndrome since 2009. I was a full-time carer for our mum too, who passed away in 2011. Uniting Friends do a terrific job with my brother Paul and he enjoys going there. I wanted to give something back, so in 2012, I found out they had an allotment and applied to be a volunteer. I met Deborah who runs the allotment and it turned out she was the inspiration I was looking for. She gave me the growing bug and I haven’t looked back!

I left school at 16 and worked on a building site. I learnt a lot, which has helped with the allotment. I have made compost bins and a leaf mould bin from decking boards, as well as benches from old pallets. I do the usual digging, hoeing and weeding, which is never-ending, but I would not change a thing.

The allotment is very important to me; it’s not easy being a carer. It can be hard physically, mentally and financially. While Paul is at Uniting Friends he is being looked after, so I can go to the allotment and enjoy myself. I hate to think what I would be doing now without it. It has been a lifeline. It has given me a sense of well-being, and without the allotment I would feel lost. Things may be tough, but with the allotment, I’m happy.

Clare Grant (employee)
I have been attending the allotment since July 2021. I used to be an admin assistant in the Uniting Friends office but now I have started a new role working with Deborah. I have learnt a lot from her about planting, sowing, watering, plant names and everything that goes with it. The allotment makes me feel relaxed, happy and not stressed. It makes me feel great inside. Cadent gas company will destroy what Uniting Friends has done here and for all of the people who use this site. This is a place where we grow our own fruit and veg. I would feel very annoyed and upset if this ever happens.

For more information on Sprout There!, visit

To view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit


Poster company adds views of Wanstead Park and Flats to collection

Screenshot 2021-11-02 at 15.06.43

A company that designs travel posters has added views of Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats to its collection.

“Our company began by creating a set of 15 posters, one for each National Park in the UK. But it felt silly to stop there. We now invite people to get in touch and share their favourite parks with us, and we’re doing our best to make travel posters of the most loved parks in London. We work with artists around the world and the collection continues to grow,” said Jack Franks, founder of Bucket List Prints.



Streets Apart


Streets Apart – run by the charity Living Streets – arranges weekly walks for the over-65s. Project coordinator Tricia Edeam introduces the tri-borough initiative and urges Wanstead residents to get involved

We are Living Streets, a charity for everyday walking, and we are working with older adults around the UK to reconnect them with their communities and improve their streets. Our work aims to support those with accessibility needs, providing safe, friendly spaces for organised group walks.

Building on the successful two-year Streets Apart project in Redbridge, the City Bridge Trust has once more invested in walking as a solution to loneliness and inactivity. But this time, extending across three London boroughs: Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham.

The focus of the Streets Apart programme is to reconnect older people with their community; reducing isolation, improving physical fitness and mental well-being. Walking and talking is easy and free with huge all-round benefits.

Our new three-year project involves led walks with older adults, training walk leaders to leave a walking legacy in the boroughs, street route audits to assess the walking environment and audit reports to suggest improvements to local councils.

Our walks are designed to help older adults stay independent. Rebuilding confidence in the simple act of walking can give the confidence to go out to the shops, attend a doctor’s appointments, attend local events, or visit friends or family. At present, our walks are in Barkingside, Clayhall and Ilford, but we are looking to introduce new walks in other parts of the borough. We are particularly interested in Wanstead and Woodford and are looking for participants to take advantage of this service. To be able to attend, you must be over 65 and be able to walk a short distance. Living Streets staff will discuss your needs with you and match you with a group close to your home. At the end of the walks, the groups visit cafés to allow for the opportunity to sit together and have a tea or coffee and a chat. For many attendees, this is the highlight of the walk as they get to spend time socialising and getting to know each other.

“I feel better, and it was nice to have someone to talk to. I enjoyed both the walk and walk leader, who has given me new information about where I live,” said one participant.

The led walks are set at a slow pace, designed to cater for all abilities and all are welcome to join. Walk leaders are all fully trained, DBS checked and live within the local community themselves.

To join a Streets Apart walking group, refer a friend or volunteer with Living Streets, call 07714 616 599 or email

For more information on Living Streets, visit


Work Redbridge to host virtual interview workshop


Redbridge Council’s Work Redbridge service will be hosting a one-hour virtual interview workshop on 17 November from 10am.

“This session is dedicated to supporting individuals perform in virtual and pre-recorded interviews. This includes guidance and suggestions on preparing effectively, using technology, building rapport and delivering a confident interview,” said a spokesperson.

The council’s free Work Redbridge service is open to all residents aged 18 and over, regardless of circumstances.



Wanstead’s Christmas lights switch-on


Wanstead’s Christmas lights will be switched on this month.

“The Wanstead Christmas lights switch on will return in-person on Friday 19 November at 4.30pm. There will be traditional music from local schools and performers, the cast of the Kenneth More Theatre pantomime and hopefully our star local milkman from 4pm on George Green. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!” said the Wanstead Village councillors.


Welcome, back

© European Union/Mallika Panorat© European Union/Mallika Panorat

Eleanor Taylor was part of a group that welcomed a Syrian refugee family to Wanstead earlier this year. As that family continue to enjoy a safer and happier life, there are now many Afghans in need of similar help

The recent end of UK operations in Afghanistan meant we all saw heart-breaking footage of families who had worked with the UK-backed government, women in positions of power, translators and interpreters, joining the scramble to board flights to safety. Many of us watching wondered how we might be able to directly assist families to start a new life in a place of safety.

The UK government recently released details of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which will help to relocate some of these families to the UK. In part, the scheme will rely on local authorities to accommodate and resettle families, but the programme will also have a voluntary element. This means all of us in Wanstead and surrounding communities can help Afghan refugee families start a new life, through support and donations, but especially through Community Sponsorship. The scheme will work in the same way as that which helped a group of us to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Wanstead in early 2021.

Our Community Sponsorship journey began in 2019 when a group of volunteers were put in touch by local churches, formed Refugee Welcome Wanstead and applied to the Home Office to support a family for their first two years in the UK. The goal of the project is to support a family towards developing the skills and knowledge needed to live an independent life after their two years with us.

The application process involved fundraising, sourcing suitable accommodation and liaison with the council and other local service providers. We were then matched to a registered refugee family by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration, considering property size, additional needs, and existing links or language compatibility with the host country.

We are currently six months into working with our family, with support from the charity Reset UK, and they are progressing remarkably well. This scheme has helped hundreds of Syrian refugees in the UK, and similar schemes worldwide have enabled thousands of vulnerable refugees to flee the Syrian conflict.

It is clear that, in the coming months, the need for volunteers who can help to support a family fleeing the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan will be greater than ever. There are lots of ways you can help to welcome Afghan refugees to safety. If you would like to hear more about our experience working directly through the Community Sponsorship scheme, please get in touch.

To help welcome an Afghan refugee family, visit

For more information about Refugee Welcome Wanstead, visit


Endangered in Wanstead

The Wren Wildlife Group, London Wildlife Trust and Wild Wanstead have compiled a list of 10 species at risk of local extinction. In the ninth of a series of articles looking at each species in turn, Nicola Steele discusses the steps needed to save one of our most endangered creatures, the hedgehog

It’s ironic that one of the UK’s favourite wild animals is also one of the most endangered – as the plight of the hedgehog is a direct result of, you guessed it, us!

As hedgerows have been ripped out in the countryside to make way for industrial farming, and greenery has been ripped out in the cities to make way for patios and cars, these charismatic little creatures have struggled to find a place to call home amongst us. Hedgehogs are classified as vulnerable to extinction on the Red List of British Mammals. Numbers have been dropping for many years now, and even in the past decade, we have lost over a half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities. This isn’t sustainable and means we could lose hedgehogs for good in the UK.

The decline in towns and cities seems to be slowing, but the situation in the countryside is a real concern. In Wanstead, there are still a few hedgehogs around, but the only known remaining stronghold is in the area around the City of London Cemetery. They are dying here because of factors like traffic, loss of habitat and use of garden pesticides.

One of the reasons hedgehogs have struggled with the modern way we manage our land is that they roam widely during the night in search of food – often by as much as two to four kilometres. This means they need access to space that’s well connected and easy to move around. Roads, fences and walls all create a direct barrier that blocks their ability to forage.

Hedgehogs are fascinating animals. If threatened with danger, they raise their 3,000 to 5,000 spines and curl up into a tight ball. Between November and March, when food is in short supply, hedgehogs hibernate in a nest in a hedgerow, compost heap, or under a thick layer of leaves or logs. Their body temperature drops and breathing almost stops. Hedgehogs are awake again and ready to breed in April. The female makes a nest of leaves and grass and has three to five babies. At first, the young are blind and pink, but soon sprout soft white spines. By four weeks old, they’re ready to go foraging with their mother, and in another 10 days, the offspring go their separate ways. If you’re interested in finding out more, Hedgehog Street is a great organisation trying to save our spikey friends that has lots of information on their website.

How to help

  • To help rural hedgehogs, you could consider avoiding industrially produced food and opt for organic, if feasible.
  • Closer to home, don’t use slug pellets or pesticides in the garden – hedgehogs eat creepy crawlies so you’re indirectly poisoning them.
  • Make your garden attractive to hedgehogs and the food they eat. Leave a wild corner, make a mini wildlife meadow or have a wildlife pond (with an escape ramp).
  • Have habitats in your garden suitable for hedgehogs to hibernate in.
  • Make hedgehog highways with your neighbours so that hedgehogs can move between gardens to find food at night. Create gaps in your boundaries of 13cm by 13cm (which is too small for nearly all pets to get through), or use hedgehog-friendly gravel boards with ready-made holes. Dig a channel under a wall, fence or gate, or cut a hole at the bottom of the structure.
  • If you are lucky enough to have hedgehogs in your garden or neighbourhood, provide supplementary food, ideally dry or wet cat food (not fish).

For more information on helping hedgehogs, visit

For more information about the 10 species under threat of extinction in Wanstead, visit