July 2023


Ready to read


The second Wanstead Book Festival – part of next month’s Wanstead Fringe – is fast approaching. It’s time to get your summer reading ready, says Festival chair Giles Wilson

The idea of long, languorous summer afternoons with only a novel to occupy the attention is a holiday dream for many people, myself included. But what to read? Pick up something new at the airport or catch up with that pile of half-finished books? Well, here’s another option. The second Wanstead Book Festival is taking place during this September’s Wanstead Fringe, so why not use your summer break for some pre-reading?

Headlining the Festival is one of the UK’s greatest living authors, Jonathan Coe, who has been chronicling the changing nature of family and national life since he rose to prominence with What a Carve Up in 1994, and then most famously with The Rotters Club in 2001, which was adapted for TV. His new novel, Bournville, takes a sweep of post-war British history and gives a few well-aimed jabs. It’s a fantastically vivid portrait of how we see ourselves, which makes him just the person to headline the Festival (and an ideal candidate for holiday reading).

The question of how we see ourselves is also raised by Paterson Joseph’s The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho. It’s a novelised version of diaries written in the 1700s by Sancho who escaped as an infant from a slaving ship, becoming a musician, actor, anti-slavery campaigner and the first black person to vote in a British election. 

Tim Burrows’ book The Invention of Essex asks where the idea of political and fashion stereotypes about Essex came from. White stilettos and go-faster stripes led to Essex Girls and Essex Man – popular culture definitely still has its views about the county which is so close to Wanstead (and of which, until the 1960s, Wanstead was actually a part).

Helen Day will be discussing her work championing Ladybird Book artists. They captured another view on our recent past – a combination of neatly observed street scenes for hundreds of books which became many children’s gateways into reading.

Artists have a particular gift of seeing the world about them, and this is the subject of the new book See What You’re Missing by the BBC’s former arts editor Will Gompertz, now artistic director at the Barbican, who will be jumping on the Central Line to come and speak to us.

This is just a sample of the authors who will be taking part this year. The full programme – and tickets – will be available online. Details will also appear in the Wanstead Village Directory next month. And if you’re still looking for that summer read, you can see books from all the Festival authors in the online Wanstead Bookshop.

Wanstead Fringe and the Wanstead Book Festival will take place from 9 to 30 September. Visit wansteadfringe.org

For more information on Wanstead Bookshop, visit wansteadbookshop.com


Gardening volunteers needed at Redbridge Lane West allotments

b62727b5-e7e8-4322-a3e9-33b149907500Members of Sprout There! on their allotment

A charity based at the Redbridge Lane West allotments in Wanstead is looking for gardening volunteers.

“We began over 10 years ago to engage adults with learning disabilities in the entire process of fruit and vegetable cultivation, harvesting, eating more healthily and learning skills for personal development. Even if you can only spare an hour or two to help us out on the allotments, it would be much appreciated,” said a spokesperson for Sprout There!, which is part of Ilford charity Uniting Friends.

Call 020 8551 8800


Wanstead Beer Festival tickets now on sale


Tickets for the Wanstead Beer Festival are now on sale.

The first year of the Wanstead Beer Festival will take place at Christ Church Halls, Wanstead on 14 October, with funds raised going to local charities.

“The event will include a number of real ales drawn from the local area and beyond. There will also be some craft ales, lagers and cider to fit all tastes. Not forgetting some carefully chosen wines and prosecco for non-beer drinkers. There will also be food some delicious available from local suppliers. The ethos behind the event is keeping it local and helping the community,” said  event organiser and local councillor Paul Donovan.

“We hope to bring together the local community in this centrally based location. It is all about being local.”

A limited number of early bird tickets are priced £5 each. Standard price tickets are £8 or £10 in advance or £12 on the day.

For more information, visit wansteadbeerfestival.co.uk


The Corner House Project has a new name to avoid confusion

orw-1The Wanstead Charity volunteers delivering food and clothing to the homeless

The Corner House Project has changed its name to The Wanstead Charity.

“Nothing else will change; we will still work for the homeless, for victims of domestic violence and for any needy local people. Since we started in 2019, there has been confusion as people assume we’re part of the Corner House building (Allan Burgess Centre) on the High Street – where we used to have an office – and they have had to field calls and sort donations left outside, so the name change will avoid this,” said a spokesperson.

Call 07943 717963 or email thewansteadcharity@gmail.com

This ability

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The Disability Awareness Festival returns to Wanstead this month. Designed by people with disabilities, it’s the only fully accessible and inclusive festival in the borough, says Suzanne Wright

Each summer, Redbridge Council, together with charity partners One Place East, Uniting Friends and Redbridge Forum, as well as Vision, brings the annual Disability Awareness Festival to Christ Church Green in Wanstead. 

Supported by local estate agents The Stow Brothers, the festival aims to promote people’s abilities and talents, challenge stigma and raise awareness of the support available to those with disabilities and to help them live full and independent lives. It attracts people from across Redbridge and beyond.

The festival has grown in size year on year, and this year is looking to be bigger and better than ever. There will be information stalls from charities and other organisations who are here to help people with physical or cognitive disabilities or mental ill health. There will also be workshops including mindfulness, arts and crafts, circus skills and more. Alongside these will be sports, food stalls and our main stage, which will be filled with talented singers from local services and beyond. This year, there will also be a fashion show, featuring creative designs from people attending relevant day services. Festivalgoers will be able to contribute to the fashion show as well, by designing their own clothes along the theme of climate change, showcasing their work on Wanstead’s own catwalk in the heart of Christ Church Green.

What makes this festival different is that it is the only fully accessible and inclusive festival in the borough. No matter what a person’s ability, this is the only festival which truly understands what people need as it is designed by people with disabilities. It features comedians, artists and musicians with a range of different abilities and provides information on how people can live independent and healthy lives. It is also the only festival in Redbridge to feature fully accessible facilities, including toilets, hoists and washing facilities for those who need extra support. This year, based on feedback from previous attendees, there will also be a dedicated time out space for those who may need to take a break for a little while, which can be particularly helpful for those with autism or other forms of neurodiversity.

Margaret Summers, chief executive of One Place East, said: “This is an important event in the One Place East diary. People using our services look forward to taking part in the planning, preparation and delivery. It is truly an inclusive and lively event. Apart from people showcasing skills and talents, it also gives the opportunity to meet friends old and new, find out what is available in Redbridge, check out equipment and gadgets to aid independent living, to try out new activities, and most importantly, to have a fun-filled day where you can be yourself. Truly worth a visit.”

The Disability Awareness Festival 2023 will take place on Christ Church Green on 9 August from 12 noon to 7pm. For more information, visit wnstd.com/thisability


Feed 350


Suzanne Paterson from Tin in a Bin provides an update on their joint campaign with Redbridge Council, aiming to help feed 350 children across Redbridge over the summer holidays 

Earlier this year, Tin in a Bin joined forces with Redbridge Council to support young people in Redbridge whose families are struggling with increased costs of living. Many thousands of families are able to access free school meals but there are a number of families who are ineligible for this and are still struggling. So last Easter, over £4,000 was raised to provide support to 350 children in Redbridge through the provision of food vouchers.

The cost-of-living crisis hasn’t gone away and many families are still struggling to cope with increased costs of food, housing and everyday essentials. So, Tin in a Bin and Redbridge Council decided to find a way to support families during the six-week summer holidays. They have worked closely together to raise money through fundraising events and activities. 

To feed 350 children who are ineligible for free school meal vouchers during the holidays, Tin in a Bin and Redbridge Council set themselves an ambitious target of raising £30,000. This will pay for ingredients and recipes supplied by the Mayor of London’s office or food vouchers for each of the children throughout the holidays. Not only will families be able to eat nutritious and balanced meals, but they will also enjoy the opportunity to cook together and learn new skills as a family. 

For the last few months, there have been many events including quiz nights, bingo and a summer fair at Cranbrook Primary School and the Early Years Play and Development centre at the school. Thanks to the massive generosity of local residents and everyone who has attended the fundraising events, we raised around £20,000, but there is still some way to go to reach our target.

We will continue to raise funds throughout the summer holidays so that young people in Redbridge don’t need to go hungry this summer.

If you can, please donate via the GoFundMe page or contact Tin in a Bin directly to make a donation. A donation of £15 will provide a child with ingredients and recipes or food vouchers for a week.

We would also welcome food donations to Tin in a Bin. There are collection points across Wanstead, Woodford, Newbury Park and Forest Gate where you can drop off tins or packets of food including rice, pasta, cereals or long-life milk. Our volunteers will bring your donations to our sorting and distribution point at St Mary’s Church in Wanstead, where they are then distributed to a number of charitable organisations across Redbridge.

To donate, visit wnstd.com/feed350

To find your nearest Tin in a Bin collection point, visit wnstd.com/tinabsites


Photographer captures the essence of Wanstead Flats and its community

NICkMARKPortrait of Nick Croft and Mark Thomas, who helped develop a pond on the Flats. ©Annick Wolfers

A local photographer and filmmaker has launched a multimedia art project – entitled Common Ground – about the people who use Wanstead Flats.

The images are part of my ongoing exploration of the Flats. It’s a collaboration between myself and the people that love the area and use this space on a daily basis,” said Annick Wolfers, whose images are displayed along Leytonstone High Road and linked to online videos in which her subjects talk about what Wanstead Flats means to them. “Researching this project has been a fascinating journey, and in a time of deep ecological uncertainty, it helped me reconnect to my local environment. The hope is that it will make more people aware of this amazing space they have on their doorstep and inspire us all to further protect the area in the future.”

Visit wnstd.com/commonground


Wild Weekend

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James Heal, chair of the Wren Wildlife Group, reports on the success of the first Wanstead Wildlife Weekend, two days of exploring the wildlife on our doorstep through a range of family-friendly activities

The Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group is 51 years old, but we are keen to keep adapting and trying new things to ensure we see our 100th birthday.

Since 2016, the Wren Group has often organised an annual flagship weekend full of activities around the summer solstice – the purpose has often been to find as many species as possible: a ‘bioblitz’. This year, under the direction of Wren secretary, Gill James, we did something a bit different. We organised a weekend of activities again, but with more of a creative and even more of a family feel than previous years, and with a number of different partnerships. We even secured a small amount of funding. The first Wanstead Wildlife Weekend was born and held on 24 and 25 June.

There were some activities we have done before: a spider walk with expert David Carr (highlight was the nationally scarce jumping spider, Salticus zebraneus, found on some of the tree trunks in one of the copses); and two well-attended pond dips (where amongst many other things, a carp fry was netted). But there was also some new ground trodden. 

Particularly special were two art-themed activities, one of them led by Wren Group patron and international artist Dr Gayle Chong-Kwan. We partnered with the Newham-focused charity Ambition Aspire Achieve, and a small group of young people were able to explore their artistic creativity with Gayle’s help, and also explore the world of wasps, bees and other invertebrates with Wren committee member Dr Tony Madgwick. Watching the amazing bee-themed art pieces the young people created, or watching as they discovered one of the beautiful Jewel Wasps, Holopyga generosa, was wonderful.

The other art event was led by another local artist, Jo Wood, who helped a group of adults engage with nature-inspired art. We also had Vision RCL leading a popular wildlife walk in Wanstead Park, a climate picnic with various child-friendly activities and a macro-photography workshop on Wanstead Flats.

Watching children use a sweep net or look at an insect with a hand lens for the first time was magical. It was wonderful to see so many people come together and explore new ways they can embrace and support biodiversity. It was particularly encouraging at a time of such concern regarding biodiversity and the climate crisis. As Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Finding new ways to learn about the natural world will inevitably mean we can attract wider audiences, and I am immensely proud of how Wren Group volunteers stepped up to the challenge. It has certainly set a high bar for the future.

For more information on the Wren Wildlife Group, visit wnstd.com/wren


London Fire Brigade unveils new ‘holey hoses’ to tackle wildfires


The London Fire Brigade unveiled new firefighting equipment on Wanstead Flats earlier this month.

The demonstration of the ‘holey hose’ was in response to the increasing risk of wildfires. “It is a type of fire service hose with pre-prepared holes that creates a curtain of water reaching up to two metres high. The holey hose can be rolled out by all our firefighters, who have been undergoing enhanced wildfire response training in preparation for what could be another challenging summer,” said a spokesperson.


Residents support youth centre fun day ahead of council decision


Over 350 people attended a fun day at Wanstead Youth Centre earlier this month.

“The event was designed to show what an invaluable community asset the centre is. Attendees enjoyed a range of activities, from basketball to boxing, as well as sampling the state-of-the-art music studio. We would like to thank the community for their support,” said a spokesperson for the Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre Campaign group.

Redbridge Council is due to decide on the venue’s future next month.

Visit wnstd.com/sowyc