Showing posts with label Community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Community. Show all posts

25 March 2021

News from St Christopher’s, Your Local Hospice

By Suzy Fisk, Communications and Marketing Lead, St Christopher’s Hospice

At St Christopher’s Hospice we have been serving the community of South East London for over 50 years since our founding by hospice care pioneer, Dame Cicely Saunders, in 1967.

From our main building in Sydenham, and another in Orpington, we offer high-quality palliative and end-of-life care for the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. The aim of palliative care is to help people live well until they die; it’s not just about care for the very final days of life. Last year the hospice provided care and support to over 7,500 local people in need: from gym sessions and art therapy to complementary therapies, social work and welfare support, end-of-life care and bereavement support.

St Christopher’s aims to be both part of the community and for the community, and never has this been truer than in the last ten or so months. We have felt so appreciated and supported by our local community, just as our staff and volunteers have been finding new ways to safely keep supporting local people, despite the difficult circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak.

So much appreciation has been shown to our staff and volunteers, and the practical support that we received as the pandemic began to be felt in 2020 was overwhelming. From simple messages of thanks for the care that people have continued to receive through to donations of ready meals for staff, to the wonderful response that we received to our Emergency Appeal while we were forced to temporarily close our 26 charity shops and curtail fundraising events — thank you so much to everyone who have been behind us.

Meanwhile, at St Christopher’s, we continue to provide care and support for over 1,100 local people every day, despite the challenges. Our care teams, wearing PPE to keep everyone safe, have looked after patients and families both on our wards and in the community, where the vast majority of our care takes place. In fact, last year, over 14,000 visits were made to people’s homes or care homes. Where possible at the moment, however, teams use video consultations or telephone calls, to reduce the risk of infection by connecting people virtually.

To support our community, over Christmas 2020, volunteers with our Community Action Team delivered 175 gift bags, filled with small treats and presents donated by our staff and volunteers, which were given to isolated and vulnerable local people in their homes.

Despite these difficult times, we are also pleased to have something to look forward to in 2021. If you have travelled down Lawrie Park Road recently, you will have seen that our impressive new education building is nearly finished. St Christopher’s Hospice is a nationally and internationally recognised provider of palliative care education, and our new, purpose-built building will mean that we can offer our facilities for community use, as well as use state-of-the-art teaching facilities to support local families who want to learn how to better take care of a loved one at home. The building will be officially opened later this year, and we look forward to welcoming everyone inside.

At St Christopher’s we have over 500 dedicated staff and over 1,200 talented volunteers who make it the wonderfully positive, compassionate and skilled place that it is. However, St Christopher’s is a charity, and it costs £23 million every year to keep running our wide range of services. Around a third of this funding comes from the NHS, and the remaining £15 million has to be fundraised with the help of our community.

If you would like to offer your support, especially while we are facing lower income due to the temporary closure of our charity shops and curtailed fundraising events, you can give to the hospice in many ways, such as through donations, gifts in Wills, or volunteering. At the time of writing, our charity shops were closed but, when we are able to safely welcome you back inside, you can also support us by donating goods to one of our 26 high street shops, and perhaps finding a lovely bargain while you are in there! We sincerely hope that we will be able to see you soon.

24 March 2021

A Year at the Lewisham Foodbank: A First-Hand Account

By Claus Murmann 

Early in 2020, as we were heading for the first lockdown, I answered a call for volunteer delivery drivers for Lewisham Foodbank — little did I know what I’d started. Naturally, as a keen cyclist, I asked if it was possible to deliver by bike. “Of course, we have a bike team too,” came the response from Caro, the foodbank’s volunteer coordinator and comms manager. My boss was happy for me to do one or two lunchtime sessions a week, so off I went. It’s fairly ad-hoc, informal and fun, riding around with a very diverse team of cyclists. We’ve been all over Lewisham and discovered new parts of town. It’s quite an adventure.

The serious side of this is that we see a lot of very needy people first-hand; doorstep delivery is the client-facing role. Often we’re going to very run-down housing estates;  doorbells are broken, people can’t answer phone calls as they’re out of credit, and homes are damp and mouldy. It’s really depressing to see the state of housing and meet people who struggle to look after themselves. Many clients seem to have found themselves suddenly homeless and in temporary accommodation due to the Covid pandemic, dazed and confused, stuck in limbo between jobs and before support kicks in — a common circumstance where the Foodbank gets involved. Probably the most crushing thing is that this evident poverty crisis is so hidden from everyday life; I’ve cycled past so many of these places on a main road without knowing what’s just around the corner. I hate to say it, but it does make me appreciate what I have, and on the other hand it makes me want to do more to help. That’s what kick-started me volunteering more and more of my time. During mid-year the foodbank was expanding its services so rapidly to cope with an increase in demand that it meant building a new warehouse for storage. Over a few afternoons we moved piles of canned peaches, tomato sauce and pasta and generally very heavy crates of non-perishable food. We built shelves, we stacked mountains of cornflakes and we piled toilet paper up high.

If you’re thinking of volunteering, drivers are often needed to make individual deliveries but also to move crates of pre-packed food parcels from the Forest Hill base at the Hope Centre on Malham Road to Deptford, Lewisham, Catford and Downham, in a hub-and-spoke model. Recently we’ve managed to work with the Cross River Partnership and Ecofleet cycle couriers to set up some Lewisham-funded green trial deliveries — fewer cars means less congestion and less pollution! Volunteers are also required to do regular restocking work as well as the huge logistical operation of putting together food parcels, which are packed and labelled with the correct dietary requirements.

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve done is work the phones, which involves calling people to check addresses and dietary requirements, and whether they need nappies, period products, etc; and to ensure they would be home to receive their delivery. This can mean making 50-plus phone calls in 2 or 3 hours, and it’s emotionally draining. Many people are really grateful for the foodbank’s support and express it. Some are struggling and some want to tell you a story because they clearly haven’t spoken to anyone for a while. It’s difficult to keep moving through the referrals, as everyone deserves our time and help. People can even get downright rude because they didn’t get their preferred brand of Cornflakes (but that’s rare).

I asked Caro how many food parcels Lewisham Foodbank gives month by month. She told me that in January 2021 alone they fed over 2,200 adults and children. This is a massive increase compared to 2019 and 2020. It must also be noted that Lewisham Foodbank isn’t the only food project in the borough.

So yes, please keep donating to the Lewisham Foodbank; money is great as specific bulk items can be ordered that are always needed. Donations can be brought to Hope Centre from Mondays to Fridays, or dropped in local supermarket boxes. The other thing you can give is time; volunteering has been a hugely rewarding experience and I’ve met the nicest people along the way. The foodbank will need more help as some of its existing volunteer team members head back to work after lockdown. You never know — you might find yourself sorting carrots with a cast member from The Crown or Poirot, doing logistics planning with a member of the Eastenders family or packing laundry capsules with a star from Death in Paradise. You could find yourself on a team with an award-winning BAFTA actor, recognise a voice from The Archers or even a bit of hoovering with a comedian often seen on QI.

To donate money or food please visit

16 March 2021

Forest Hill Society’s Members Help with Laptops for Schools

By Claus Murmann

At the turn of the year, I was chatting with John Doherty from our Transport Committee to see what, if anything, was new. “Oh,” he said, “I’m building laptops for one of Lewisham's schools.” He’d collected a few laptops from regulars at the All Inn One pub and had set about refurbishing them and re-installing Windows 10 and Zoom, so that they could be handed out to children who did not have access to technology at home or any way to interact ‘face to face’ with teachers during lockdown. The idea was to provide a stop-gap solution for some families while the school waited for national tech-supply programs to kick in.

Without quite realising what we were letting ourselves in for, I said why don’t we put this on our Forest Hill Society social media! Out went a couple of social media and forum requests for old laptops and tablets. We had a fantastic response, so much so that I had to start collating a spreadsheet with who was offering what and via what medium so I wouldn’t lose track. For more than a week I was messaging, emailing and then planning a cycle route around Forest Hill collecting up to five devices a day to drop off at John's house. John was almost overwhelmed, but he very jovially insisted it was all fine, and set about restoring machines and buying random licenses, parts, chargers and even keyboard decals from eBay. I heard stories of random screen and keyboard swaps, and all kinds of ‘surgery’.

We have now successfully refurbished over 27 devices including laptops, MacBooks and iPads — all repurposed and delivered. That’s pretty much equivalent to a whole new class online, plus a few more that were donated and used for spares.

The headteacher of the school has told us that every device is making a difference to the families who received them. It has removed the stress on children of not being able to log in to their daily meetings, eased the issue of siblings and working parents competing for devices, and increased active engagement in online learning in every class. She said,

“I can't thank John and all at Forest Hill Society enough for what they've done. Their generosity in terms of time and money is overwhelming and has made a huge difference to our families.”

It’s not too late — we’ve figured out that the school’s Apple remote install will handle Zoom right down to iOS Ver 9; so, if you have any old iPads from the old larger connector generation lying around, we can maybe bring them back to life. Ditto any laptops that have a webcam, probably going back to 2010; let us know and we will still pick them up.

Some donors have been exceptionally generous and provided more than one device, and one or two very up-to-date tablets and laptops have emerged too.

Thanks to everyone who donated, including the All Inn One pub who contributed £100 for spares, and Finches and Sushi Garden; and a huge thank you to John who’s spent most of January knee-deep in technology. Forest Hill Society has matched the £100 in order to help purchase data SIMs and dongles for households with no Wi-Fi/Broadband.

15 April 2020

Helping Local Families

Two ways to support local families struggling at this time:

You can support the local food bank with one-off or regular donations:
At present all food is being delivered to clients by the food bank.

Revd Edd Stock is also raising money for food for local families:

03 October 2013

The Honor Oak

The Honor Oak on St German's Road was one of Forest Hill's better pubs until recently. Unfortunately, the last tenants ran the pub into the ground and have allegedly stripped it bare - including removing all the radiators.

After being approached by several members of the Society who were concerned that The Honor Oak might follow the same fate as The Windmill and The Forest Hill Hotel and be converted into flats or a mini-supermarket, we recently applied for the Honor Oak to be listed as a community asset.

If approved, then should Punch Taverns decide to sell the property, the community will be offered the right to buy the building. If you'd like to get involved and hear about the journey, please join the mailing list at

The table below summarises the ‘assets of community value’ nominating and bidding process in four simple stages.

Stage one: Identify an asset for nomination
If an eligible community or voluntary group thinks that a local asset meets the definition of an ‘asset of community value’ they can fill in an application form and ask the Council to list the property as an ‘asset of community value’. If the nomination meets the relevant criteria and is approved by the Council, the asset will be included on the list. A list will also be compiled for any unsuccessful nominations that do not meet the criteria.

Stage 2: The owner wants to sell their asset
If the owner wants to sell their asset they must notify the Council, which will then notify the community group that nominated the asset and publicise the proposed sale to the wider community. If within six weeks of informing the Council of their intention to sell their asset an eligible community interest group does not come forward, the owner is free to sell their asset for a period of eighteen months from the date that they notified the Council of their intention to sell the asset.

Step 3: A designated community group wants to bid for the asset
If an eligible community interest group does express an interest in bidding for the asset, this group or groups will be granted extra time to prepare a business plan and gather the finance needed to purchase the asset. All in all, the time-frame for groups to put together their bids is six months starting from the time the asset owner informs the Council of their intention to sell the asset.

Step 4: The point at which the asset is to be sold
The six month window of opportunity is only for eligible community interest groups to put their business plans together and gather necessary funding. Once the six month window has expired, the asset owner is free to sell their property to who they want. They are under no obligation to sell the asset to any eligible community interest group or groups who bid to purchase the asset.

23 September 2013

A scrumping we will go

A new foraging and community harvest group called SEplentyFREE has started locally.
" We are a NEW small South East London based group of foraging enthusiasts based primarily in SE23, SE26, SE4, SE6, SE13, SE14, SE19 & SE20 (or wherever the fruit trees call us to). We are now also part of the national Abundance Network. If you are interested or live locally, you can join us by emailing Vera at: for more information.

28 June 2013

Friends of Mayow Park meeting

Are you a regular in Mayow Park? Would you like to find out more about activities and developments there? If so, the Friends of Mayow Park would like to see you at their General Meeting at 7pm on Tuesday, 9 July.

The meeting will be held at the Dacres Wood Nature Reserve Field Centre, which is a single storey building located up a driveway off Dacres Road, between Homefield House & Catling Close. The Field Centre is accessed through gates at the end of the driveway and turn left into building.

View Larger Map

They are particularly keen to invite regular park users including dog walkers, sports groups, young people aged 16+, parents of young children and others to join them. For more information email:

08 February 2011

Sing Out...!

Song Thrush
Don’t just sing in the shower - there’s a vocal group near you that wants to hear your voice!

Sing Out! launches at Trinity Laban, Creekside in Deptford on Saturday, 19 February with the BBC Singers. Go along between 10am and 4pm to enjoy free workshops, talks and demonstrations from professionals.

This event marks the start of a year-long programme of activities exploring all types of singing that will culminate in the Music Nation weekend on 3, 4 and 5 March 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. You can also register to be part of the biggest mass singing event ever held in Lewisham at People’s Day in July 2012.

Local Choirs

If you cannot make it to Sing Out..!, why not get involved in a local choir? Many choirs sing by ear rather than from sheet music, and many sing rock, gospel, world music and jazz, so don’t be put off because you can’t read music, or choral works aren’t your thing. Singing can also make you look and feel good – it improves your posture, tones your stomach muscles and releases feel-good endorphins – just like chocolate, but a lot less fattening. It is fun, joyful and uplifting and has inspired poets and poetry, writers and playwrights and more than a few romances. Choirs can also create an increased sense of community and belonging and are a great way to meet new friends.

Raise the Roof (Horniman)
Three ten week courses with a concert performance in the Gallery Square at the end of each term. Contact

Lewisham Choral Society
Provides an environment for amateur choral singers with a diverse range of experience and backgrounds that is dynamic, challenging and forward-looking. Contact

Honor Oak Singers
Chamber choir welcoming singers of all levels who are looking to learn to sing in a warm encouraging atmosphere. Repertoire is varied including music from shows, jazz, pop and classical genres. Contact

Seniors Choir
Over 50s choir at the Seniors Centre on Stanstead Road. Contact

Singology Sydenham
A community choir with Mark De-Lisser, who took the ACM Gospel Choir to the final of TV’s Last Choir Standing. Download an application form from their website

Click here to see a map of other local choirs in Lewisham.

06 April 2008

Ackroyd Centre

These are exciting times at the Ackroyd Community Centre (Ackroyd Rd, off Brockley Rise, Honor Oak). At the moment, it runs a community nursery, parent and toddler groups and a toy library. But over the next twelve months, it expects to undergo major refurbishment and become a designated Children Centre offering a whole range of services to local children and their families, writes the Centre’s director, Pat Tulloch.

Ackroyd Children & Families in partnership with Ackroyd Community Association and the London Borough of Lewisham is currently considering plans for the refurbishment of the Ackroyd Community Centre as part of Lewisham’s Children Centre Strategy.

The £450k refurbishment programme forms part of phase 2 of the Children Centre Strategy, which will enable Ackroyd Children & Families - a community nursery - to become a designated Children Centre from April 2009. Our particular model is unique because we are based within a community centre and are led by a voluntary management committee many of whom are local parents or live in the local community.

The principle behind Children Centres is that high quality childcare combined with a range of family support services will help raise educational achievement and result in better outcomes for children. Parents and other adults within the community will also benefit from the facilities. As a Children’s Centre, we will provide a programme of holistic services including access to integrated early education, health and family support. For example, we will be developing a parents’ forum and a baby gym from April. We run parent & toddler groups, a toy library, and aim to develop parenting and family learning programmes as well as provide information about children’s services and have benefit and health advisors operating on site

We believe that in order to invest in the wider community we need to first invest in its children and their families. By working in partnership with local schools, health and social care professionals, private and voluntary sector providers, we believe we are better able to build relationships and shape the quality of local services. Dalmain Primary School provides an excellent example of this. It has kindly offered to accommodate us whilst the bulk of the work takes place over the summer. The refurbishment is due to be completed at the end of September.

For further information, please contact Ackroyd Children & Families at 0208-291- 4933