COMMUNITY SUPPORT DURING ECONOMIC CRISIS
An organisation in Lewisham called FoodCycle is helping people in need during the economic crisis.
As the cost of living soars, many face difficulties in affording the most basic necessities in life, such as housing, food, healthcare, and education. Many people – including the middle class – across the country are struggling to make ends meet as housing prices are constantly on the rise, wages stagnate, and cuts to government programs and services means that many are not given the support they desperately need, and as the healthcare system tries to clear its post-pandemic backlog, some are being seeking private treatment which is plunging them into debt.
However, local communities and organisations have stepped up to some of the problems people are facing amid the economic crisis, passionate to help people who are suffering the most.
In Lewisham, an organisation called FoodCycle runs community meals for people experiencing food poverty. It involves the provision of free, nutritious hot meals every Saturday for those in need, made from food that would have otherwise gone to waste, offering a warm centre for conversation. In the current cost-of-living crisis, organisations such as FoodCycle allow members of the public who are struggling with the rising prices of food and other necessities to get the support they need during tough times.
‘’More than a food bank.’’ -FoodCycle Lewisham
This organisation welcomes people from any background, including the elderly, refugees, asylum seekers, or homeless people, as well as those affected by mental health issues.
‘’Our weekly community dining service not only helps tackle food poverty but it also helps alleviate loneliness by bringing the community together.’’ -FoodCycle Website
Those who are over 18 are able to volunteer for this community and help out with cooking the meals or collecting surplus food amongst other responsibilities which you can read about here. The site also shows information about where the food is sourced from, and the process that is involved in this organisation to provide people with healthy meals.
‘’This little community does good for the people who need it. Many are struggling during these bad economic times, and I think the company it offers keeps people’s spirits up, you know?’’ -Elizabeth Berks, a volunteer at FoodCycle.
FoodCycle will re-open on the 7th of January 2023.
STUDENTS ISOLATED DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS
Students at the McLaren LSBU accommodation are struggling to cope with their mental health due to the overnight guests pass being banned for the first weeks of term.
Students have questioned why the Covid-19 regulations are more important than their wellbeing as many are far away from family and friends back home. They have also asked about the necessity of these new rules due to mass double vaccinations and an easing of Covid-19 regulations in the UK. Students are appalled that they are paying over £6,000 a year and do not receive value for money.
‘‘It’s bad for students’ mental health which I think is more detrimental than a virus where over half the country is double vaccinated and it has a 99% survival rate.’’Amelia Homer, a student at one of the accommodations.
‘McLaren charges more for benefits like visitation so logically they should reduce the price for however long they take that benefit away.’Saoirse, student at the McLaren Accommodation.
RESIDENTS FURY AT COUNCIL HOUSING WOBBLE
Residents of Brenchley Gardens are appalled at Southwark failure to communicate with them about the halt in development of new rooftop homes on existing estates.
A recent Council Meeting on the 5th of October reviewed the development of 2,500 new homes by May 2022 and the proposal of rooftop homes. Councillors looked at the response of the residents regarding the pause in the project, inconsistent information, accessibility issues for the Commonplace website, and miscommunication between the Tenancy Management Organisation and residents of Brenchley Gardens.
The scheme was paused due to several issues, documented in the report about the development of new homes on existing estates. Owen Thompson, Development Manager, LB Southwark, stated:
‘It didn’t really give us the opportunity to really fulfil the potential of the rooftop homes projects that are currently taking place right across the borough where we engage really thoroughly with local residents.’
He follows by saying: ‘A mistake was made in terms of the written communication, which didn’t reflect the conversation we were having with the TMO.’
Commonplace – an online citizen engagement platform used to collect ideas of residents – was the website used to communicate with the residents, which reflected the specific conversation the development had with the TMO about the estate. However, the leaflets that had been issued to the residents were vague and regarding the rooftop development project.
‘…that mis-match of information created a concern locally about honesty and transparency – that’s one of the things that went wrong.’Owen Thompson, Development Manager.
Esme Hicks, BGMA Chair, TMO of Brenchley Gardens adds:
‘The [Commonplace] site was not user-friendly… No direct link to the survey on the home page… There were errors in the survey questions and it was incredibly confusing.’
She further adds: ‘There was no availability of the survey in another format, and no provision was made for those without access to the Internet.’ This excluded residents further from contributing to the engagement with the development proposal and added stress to residents in the middle of a pandemic as the site was potentially the only alternative method of communication.
‘I do not think it’s acceptable.’ ‘You are cutting out residents.’Marc Atkinson.
Victoria Mills, Peckham Rye Ward Councillor, mentioned the plan for an intensive consultation around door-knocking, which the pandemic has rendered impossible, stating:
‘The timing on this probably wasn’t right around it and I think actually pausing it is the right thing to do.’
She follows with stating the failure to follow through with the promise which had been made to communicate with residents:
‘Certainly, the first letter and the launch of the Commonplace site didn’t happen until December – several months after it had been promised… Residents were already feeling a bit anxious about the vacuum that had been created by the fact the consultation wasn’t happening.’
Marc Atkinson, a resident of Brenchley Gardens, representing the campaign group who got together to fight against this proposal, said: ‘There’s been a catalogue of errors.’ and ‘The communication has just been terrible; residents feel like they’ve been lied to.’
In April 2021, the campaign group decided to form a petition against the development of the estate:
‘I think we managed to get about 70%-75% of the estate that signed against the proposals.’Marc Atkinson
He adds: ‘When the commonplace website launched, suddenly there is mention of an infill site on unused space, which is not true – it is well-used space. It is insulting and worried a lot of the residents.’
‘Maybe it wasn’t in use during the middle of a working day in winter when they came to view it, but it’s certainly used throughout the year! Trust me, my flat overlooks it.’Annie Howard, resident.
Consequently, Stuart Davis, Director of New Homes at London Borough of Southwark, ends with: ‘We have got to do something far better and far differently moving forward.’
ZERO CARBON BY 2050
The Southwark Council Plans to build Zero Carbon Houses across the Borough by the year 2050.
The zero carbon target is required by the Climate Change Act of 2008, echoed in the London Plan (2021), committed to making London a zero carbon city by 2050.
Councillor Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development on Zero Carbon Housing, spoke on the New Southwark Plan, stating: ‘We seek a 100% reduction on the 2013 building standards.’
‘…looking at the council’s emissions in terms of our own operational emissions across the borough highlighted just how significant the contribution from buildings is and particularly from heating and hot water.’Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member.
Dennis also referred to a low-rise project in Rotherhithe, looking at what can be achieved in terms of emission reductions there, and across the whole program to ensure particularly the heating and hot water solutions that are coming forward are consistent with the net zero ambitions.
‘The carbon offset fund is critical for actually delivering our net zero.’Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member.
Juliet Seymour, Planning Policy Manager, adds by saying that the committee reports will set out the data that has been acquired, and they will then put a requirement of whoever owns the new developments to provide the Council and managers with ongoing information about whether the sites do build what was in the planning application, and whether the carbon savings are actually being met when the building is operational.
‘We are currently reviewing what the exact price of offsetting would be in Southwark. Other boroughs have done it – it ranges from £100-£1000 a ton.’Juliet Seymour, Planning Policy Manager.
CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR REFUGEES
The ‘Freedom From Charity’ aims to provide refugees with Christmas gifts this winter
‘Freedom From Torture’ is a charity which raises awareness about torture and its impact on individuals all around the world, providing therapy, support, and asylum, and helping those who have survived horrifying experiences.
This year, during the Christmas season, Freedom From Torture has enabled people to buy Christmas gifts for refugees through their website. One section of the website enables supporters to choose which gifts to send by providing ‘baskets’ which contain essential items such as toiletries, winter clothing, or a mother and baby box set.
‘Empowering Survivors, Rebuilding Lives’.Organisation’s Motto
Supporters can also fund refugees’ therapy sessions through this website, or simply donate an amount of money straight to the charity.
‘Around the world, torture is still used to silence and destroy lives. We stand with survivors, providing therapy and support, and fighting for change together.’Freedom From Torture Charity Website.
A new office supporting the ‘Freedom From Torture’ charity has recently opened in Brockley, London, and citizens are urged to donate furniture and decorations to fill up the empty space.
‘We want the space to be as nice as possible for the survivors and volunteers who will be using it.’-Kate Holmes, Employee of the charity.
‘Elf’ visits across SE postcodes
Citizens of South East London are able to book a special ‘elf’ visit during this Christmas season.
This Christmas, people of the entertainment business ‘Dream & Dazzle Parties’, based in Crofton Park, will be visiting homes to ‘share some Christmas magic’. Dates have been published on Facebook, allowing people to book times when they would want the ‘elves’ to visit – each visit costing £30, with £3 for extra presents.
Included in the visit is: a Christmas gift, a Christmas song sang by the elf, a carrot to give to the reindeer, as well as photo opportunities.
Citizens across South East London are encouraged to book a visit through the contact: Janelle@dreamanddazzle.co.uk