Eastlondonlines https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:15:28 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 55397956 “Let’s Talk”: Keeping the vulnerable safe during the pandemic https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lets-talk-keeping-the-vulnerable-safe-during-the-pandemic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lets-talk-keeping-the-vulnerable-safe-during-the-pandemic https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lets-talk-keeping-the-vulnerable-safe-during-the-pandemic/#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2020 10:53:24 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186595 With thousands of residents in Hackney asked to self-isolate due to their age or underlying health conditions, the Council has launched an initiative set up to give people feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious the chance to speak to someone about their worries during the lockdown. So far approximately 518 elderly and vulnerable Council tenants have sought help, advice, or simply a friendly chat through “Let’s Talk”- an initiative to ensure that self-isolation doesn’t mean social isolation for residents during the coronavirus emergency. For millions Covid19 means increased anxiety and stress levels because they either live alone, are on fixed or

The post “Let’s Talk”: Keeping the vulnerable safe during the pandemic appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Pic: Wikipedia

With thousands of residents in Hackney asked to self-isolate due to their age or underlying health conditions, the Council has launched an initiative set up to give people feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious the chance to speak to someone about their worries during the lockdown.

So far approximately 518 elderly and vulnerable Council tenants have sought help, advice, or simply a friendly chat through “Let’s Talk”- an initiative to ensure that self-isolation doesn’t mean social isolation for residents during the coronavirus emergency.

For millions Covid19 means increased anxiety and stress levels because they either live alone, are on fixed or limited incomes, or can no longer fend for themselves due to the lockdown restrictions. The elderly in particular rely on social connections and relationships more than anyone else.

Lena Jenkins, from Stoke Newington, who has been shielding due to underlying health conditions, has been receiving regular phone calls through the project after her mother passed away.

Jenkins, 66, said: “My mum died on 12 March and she and I lived together. I now get calls checking to see if I am okay and how I am coping”.

“Siovhan from the Let’s Talk team has been really nice. She phones me every couple of weeks to talk through things and explain stuff to me, saying ‘stick in there, don’t worry, you are going to be okay,” added Jenkins.

The restrictions put in place by the lockdown has changed the way we live and interact with people around us. Decreased physical mobility and self-isolation has made it difficult for people to know how to best support the vulnerable and those we care about.

Even those with a stable income, secure job, home schooling facilities and a safe home environment have been left physically and mentally overwhelmed by the lockdown.  

Councillor Clayeon McKenzie, cabinet member for housing services said: “During this hugely challenging time our number one priority is making sure that vulnerable residents have the support they need”.

The Council has already made nearly 7000 calls, allowing residents to raise any concerns about their access to food, medication or any other support that they might need.

“Often this means help with food, finances or healthcare, but just as important can be a regular chat and a friendly voice on the other end of the phone as well all adapt to the emotional challenges the pandemic has brought,” added McKenzie.

The initiative has been launched by the Council’s resident participation service. On regular days the team provides help and support to residents in organising events, making improvements on their estates or in helping them set up community groups.

With reduced care and increased isolation, the team has shifted to working remotely to help residents during the pandemic.

If you or someone you know is a Hackney Council resident and could benefit from Let’s Talk, contact the resident participation team on get.involved@hackney.gov.uk or 02083567845.

The post “Let’s Talk”: Keeping the vulnerable safe during the pandemic appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lets-talk-keeping-the-vulnerable-safe-during-the-pandemic/feed/ 0 186595
Minister under pressure over Isle of Dogs development controversy https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/minister-under-pressure-over-isle-of-dogs-development-controversy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=minister-under-pressure-over-isle-of-dogs-development-controversy https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/minister-under-pressure-over-isle-of-dogs-development-controversy/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 17:06:47 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186837 Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is facing increasing pressure to resign over his decision to approve the controversial Westferry Printworks development on the Isle of Dogs and his contacts with developer Richard Desmond. And Tower Hamlets Council might have to face further costs of hundreds of thousands of pounds if a new public inquiry needs to be held. Meanwhile Labour say the release of documents still leaves many questions unanswered, while Boris Johnson has made it clear he is standing by Jenrick. The multi-million pound development on the site of a former printworks includes high rise housing, shops and leisure facilities.

The post Minister under pressure over Isle of Dogs development controversy appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Architects image of Westferry Printworks planned development. Pic: screenshot from Westferry Printworks 2020

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is facing increasing pressure to resign over his decision to approve the controversial Westferry Printworks development on the Isle of Dogs and his contacts with developer Richard Desmond.

And Tower Hamlets Council might have to face further costs of hundreds of thousands of pounds if a new public inquiry needs to be held. Meanwhile Labour say the release of documents still leaves many questions unanswered, while Boris Johnson has made it clear he is standing by Jenrick.

The multi-million pound development on the site of a former printworks includes high rise housing, shops and leisure facilities. It is close to the sprawling Canary Wharf hub of offices and shops.

The newly released documents, made public after yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons, indicate that Jenrick had multiple contacts with former media magnate turned property developer Richard Desmond, the owner of the company responsible for Westferry Printworks’ development.

The documents released revealed that Jenrick gave Desmond his phone number, after they sat next to each other at a Tory fundraising dinner last November. Desmond also showed Jenrick, who was due to make a final decision on the scheme, a video of the development on his phone.

After the dinner, Jenrick sent a friendly message to Desmond. Desmond then lobbied the minister, telling him a decision was urgent because “we don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!” This message occurred the day before the developments was approved by Jenrick in January and in time to avoid the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This would have cost the development an estimated extra £45m.

Labour say the documents show that Jenrick’s earlier suggestion that he had broken off contact with Desmond after the dinner was untrue.

The storm over the development began after it emerged Desmond had personally given the Conservative party £12,000 two weeks after the scheme for 1,500 homes was approved. Jenrick had later to quash his own approval, conceding that the decision was unlawful because of the perception of undue influence. He took the decision against the advice of his own officials and the decision of the planning inspector.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesperson told Eastlondonlines that ‘the decision to reopen the Westferry Printworks case after these new developments is with the Planning Casework Unit. If the case is to reopen, they would send a report to the Secretary of State for a decision’

A Government spokesman told ELL that they were not able to comment on whether a second inquiry might be needed.

Tower Hamlets Council had earlier urged the Government court to disclose the documents ‘that would show Jenrick was influenced by a desire to help the developer save money by avoiding the council’s revised CIL charges’.

The statement also said that ‘faced with the prospect of having to release documentation relating to the decision, the secretary of state chose to allow the planning permission to be quashed’.

Isle of Dogs councillor Andrew Wood, who resigned both as Conservative group leader on Tower Hamlets Council and from the Conservative Party over the issue, said: “Everybody now has to pay twice. Having spent over half a million pounds of public money we might have to pay it again in a second appeal for a process which we know is not transparent.”

In addition to housing, the site is planned to host a number of projects scheduled by the Tower Hamlets Council to help the community. 

Wood added: “In the meantime the desperately needed new secondary school on the site is not getting built, as well as new homes, because of the delays caused by Tower Hamlets Council and now Robert Jenrick squashing his own decision.”

Tower Hamlets Council had originally opposed the application for 1,500 homes with six towers, the tallest of which is 46 storeys, because of its impact on local amenities and lack of ‘affordable’ housing at just 21 per cent. The decision was upheld by the planning inspector after an inquiry.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs, said: “We will continue to press for a scheme that meets the needs of the community on the Isle of Dogs in terms of height and density, the provision of adequate affordable housing and infrastructure delivery.”

Desmond, who formerly owned the Daily Express and Channel Five, has long had interests in the Isle of Dogs. His earlier magazine empire, Northern and Shell was based near to the Westferry site.

The post Minister under pressure over Isle of Dogs development controversy appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/minister-under-pressure-over-isle-of-dogs-development-controversy/feed/ 0 186837
Queues form as shops re-open but independent traders face uncertain future https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/queues-form-as-shops-re-open-but-independent-traders-face-uncertain-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=queues-form-as-shops-re-open-but-independent-traders-face-uncertain-future https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/queues-form-as-shops-re-open-but-independent-traders-face-uncertain-future/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 15:47:24 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186338 After almost three months since the nationwide closure of non-essential shops, thousands reopened last week, with restaurants, cinemas and museums and more to open from July 4. Large retail stores across the country were welcomed by hundreds of eager shoppers as the Government continues to reduce lockdown restrictions. In the EastLondonLines area, Lewisham Shopping Centre has reopened its 65 shops to the public. However, not all customers were satisfied and the first day was described as a “nightmare” by one unhappy shopper. In response, Paul Redden, the director of the Centre told Eastlondonlines: “The safety of our staff and guests is

The post Queues form as shops re-open but independent traders face uncertain future appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Safety measures at Lewisham Shopping Centre Pic: Lewisham Shopping Centre

After almost three months since the nationwide closure of non-essential shops, thousands reopened last week, with restaurants, cinemas and museums and more to open from July 4.

Large retail stores across the country were welcomed by hundreds of eager shoppers as the Government continues to reduce lockdown restrictions.

In the EastLondonLines area, Lewisham Shopping Centre has reopened its 65 shops to the public.

However, not all customers were satisfied and the first day was described as a “nightmare” by one unhappy shopper.

Lewisham Shopping Centre reply Pic: Lewisham Shopping Centre Twitter

In response, Paul Redden, the director of the Centre told Eastlondonlines: “The safety of our staff and guests is our number one priority. There are signs, floor stickers and digital advertising screens at our Lewisham Shopping Centre to remind people of the importance of keeping a safe distance apart. Our security teams and on site staff will also be reminding people of this.”

“We saw several thousand visitors yesterday at Lewisham Shopping Centre and would like to thank everyone who has observed our social distancing guidelines, used our hand sanitiser pumps and queued for entry. It’s really important to us that we can keep everyone safe.”

Lewisham Shopping Centre Pic: lewishamlocal.com

Similarly, Joanne Bailey, General Manager at Centrale, in Croydon, said: “It has been a really challenging time for everyone, and we are hugely grateful to the key workers that have done so much over the past few months.”

She later added: “We ask that people be patient with us though, as the way we shop is going to be different for a while, and visits might take longer than usual.”

In the centre of Hackney, shops were busy and queues also formed outside the Primark store in Narrow Way.

Will Heather talks to the owner of an East London fashion boutique facing an uncertain future.

Black Truffle, Broadway Market, Hackney Pic: broadwaymarket.co.uk

Although large retailers are experiencing a surge of customers, the impact of COVID-19 on local independent businesses across London is uncertain.

In Broadway Market in Hackney, although the market stalls remain closed for the time being, Black Truffle, a women’s fashion boutique has re-opened with customers having pre-arranged time slots.

But Melissa Needham, the owner, told ELL she believes the smaller takings may not be sustainable: “I’m very worried that the revenue will not be enough to satisfy my overheads.”

The award-winning independent shop is more of an ‘experience’ for customers, Needham said. The product “secondary in a way”. But the experience will be different now, as she introduces time slots to minimise the amount of people visiting.

Needham has been trading since 2003, developing the business by herself after a successful spell making costumes and shoes in the West End, whilst also continuing to grow an overseas teaching practice.

The market and area has drastically changed over the last 17 years, ‘snowballing’ after London’s successful Olympic bid, with many more retail and coffee shops popping up.

Melissa Needham in her shop, Black Truffle Pic: Melissa Needham

The rush to get the economy moving is a ‘political issue’: “It’s linked. Whatever people think about how this lockdown has been dealt with, it seems to be forced by big businesses. The agenda is not coming from science.”

The Bank of England predicts the economy to shrink 14%, due to a lack of jobs and many fearing to go out. Needham later added: “Even if I don’t pay myself, which is my only source of income, the rent is an anchor round my neck.”

Rent for small business owners is also an underlying issue. She said: “It is a very stressful situation. In the scheme of things, lots of lives have been affected, so this message takes its place among other issues. But it is still a big problem in the waiting. Businesses are on the line, and may go under.”

Although, as with all others, she stopped trading in March, she has continued to pay full rent. She added: “People have taken out loans. Personal monies, drip by drip, will run out. I am absolutely sure that it is a problem that will affect a lot of livelihoods.”

She currently pays £33,300 a year to her landlord to operate her shop. However, her landlord refused to offer a reduction or holiday. However, under the Coronavirus Act, tenants are currently protected from eviction if unable to keep up with rent payments.

The Ministry of Housing back in March said: “Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.”

However, Needham said more needed to be done by the Government: “A business like mine has been left out to dry. If the landlord is not willing to negotiate with me, what do I do?”

The post Queues form as shops re-open but independent traders face uncertain future appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/queues-form-as-shops-re-open-but-independent-traders-face-uncertain-future/feed/ 0 186338
Olympic park teenage summer school reopens online https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/olympic-park-teenage-summer-school-reopens-online/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=olympic-park-teenage-summer-school-reopens-online https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/olympic-park-teenage-summer-school-reopens-online/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 15:22:25 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186694 A summer school providing activities for East London teenagers during the school holidays has moved its programme online this year.   The classes organised by the London Legacy Development Corporation will start on July 27 and take place every week until the end of August. Designed for teenagers aged 12–17 living in living in Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest, the free classes will be filled with creative, tech and design activities such as talks and tutorials on filmmaking, computer gaming, fashion and dance. East Summer School offers both one-off classes and full-week courses. The school encourages its students to

The post Olympic park teenage summer school reopens online appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
East Summer School 2020 Poster Pic: @noordinarypark twitter

A summer school providing activities for East London teenagers during the school holidays has moved its programme online this year.  

The classes organised by the London Legacy Development Corporation will start on July 27 and take place every week until the end of August.

Designed for teenagers aged 12–17 living in living in Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest, the free classes will be filled with creative, tech and design activities such as talks and tutorials on filmmaking, computer gaming, fashion and dance.

East Summer School offers both one-off classes and full-week courses. The school encourages its students to meet new people online and have fun. One of last year’s students told Eastlondonlines “I had a good time in the classes last year. It was great to meet new people and I learned a lot of new things.”

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which hosted the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are the hosts of the summer school. In previous years, they held the sessions in and around the park and are working with LLDC to create the activities for the teenagers this year.

The Park said in a statment: “We know that the world is a very strange place at the moment and we’re all spending more time at home. All this extra time we have is perfect to learn some new and exciting skills, no matter your ability.”  

Last year, the sessions were a lot more hands-on with a variety of workshops and sessions taking place on campus. This year, the courses are packed with unique and interactive experiences they can enjoy. 

A number of world-class institutions will be working with local young people as part of the programme. These include the BBC, University College London, University of the Arts London’s College of Fashion, Sadler’s Wells and the V&A All will now have affiliations with east London as they will be moving some of their operations to East Bank, a new cultural and educational district being built in the park.

Register here, if you would like to take part in this year’s East Summer School.

The post Olympic park teenage summer school reopens online appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/olympic-park-teenage-summer-school-reopens-online/feed/ 0 186694
NHS was not prepared for the pandemic, says Tower Hamlets doctor https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/nhs-was-not-prepared-for-the-pandemic-says-tower-hamlets-doctor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nhs-was-not-prepared-for-the-pandemic-says-tower-hamlets-doctor https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/nhs-was-not-prepared-for-the-pandemic-says-tower-hamlets-doctor/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 14:32:43 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186771 Despite the easing of the lockdown and drop in numbers of COVID-19 cases, doctors in the NHS remain angry with the Government’s preparedness to tackle the pandemic. Rita Issa, a GP registrar and academic clinical fellow at the Bromley-by-Bow medical centre for the past two years told Eastlondonlines that the lack of honesty from the Government and an ill-prepared NHS are the reasons why the UK has recorded such a high number of coronavirus deaths and infections. Issa, 32, who also describes herself as ‘activist’ and is concerned about the health impacts of climate change, said: “What we have seen

The post NHS was not prepared for the pandemic, says Tower Hamlets doctor appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Dr Rita Issa

Despite the easing of the lockdown and drop in numbers of COVID-19 cases, doctors in the NHS remain angry with the Government’s preparedness to tackle the pandemic.

Rita Issa, a GP registrar and academic clinical fellow at the Bromley-by-Bow medical centre for the past two years told Eastlondonlines that the lack of honesty from the Government and an ill-prepared NHS are the reasons why the UK has recorded such a high number of coronavirus deaths and infections.

Issa, 32, who also describes herself as ‘activist’ and is concerned about the health impacts of climate change, said: “What we have seen with the pandemic is how we weren’t prepared for something that we should have been prepared for even in the situation where we couldn’t order in equipment”.

“I think what’s apparent is that the government thought that if something happens then we can just order the equipment we need. But actually, when you are in a global pandemic, everybody wants that equipment,” she added.

Not being able to deliver care, especially during the time of a global pandemic, because of the absence of adequate resources has resulted in a large number of casualties.

Issa said: “We can see a failure in how it’s being managed and the main way in which it has failed for me is lack of honesty from politicians. I think in countries where we have seen honesty from politicians, for example, New Zealand the response has been much better”.

Lack of funding, inadequate masks and PPEs, and shortage of other medical supplies have created room for public scrutiny into the Government’s handling of the crisis.

“When we look at how we have coped and managed in comparison to other countries, clearly, we have made mistakes. Everything from the fact that we were producing PPEs and sending it to the US to Boris Johnson saying, ‘it’s completely fine, I am just shaking people’s hands in hospitals’,” said Issa.

Issa said: “To a certain extent we can’t start to make things better until we acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. When I say there is a lack of honesty it is because the politicians are coming out and saying, ‘We are doing a fantastic job’. This means we are not intervening in the way that we need to intervene”.

“When I am asking for honesty it means that we need to put our hands up and agree that we haven’t done the best as we could have done and how can we now pull together to make sure that for the next wave or what comes next we can improve our strategy so that not as many people die or get affected in the long run.”

Issa who has herself recovered from Coronavirus said: “I developed symptoms which don’t exactly fit the criteria of corona virus because I didn’t have a temperature and I didn’t have a cough but I was feeling very viral, really knocked out, and had difficulty with breathing”.

“I am glad that I isolated myself and after two weeks I joined back to treat patients.”

Issa emphasised that the lack of medical investment and resources were to blame for weakened medical services and the high number of virus cases among NHS workers.

“I think what we have seen over the past ten years or so, actually even before the pandemic that the investment in the NHS is less than what we need to be able to deliver good care.”

The post NHS was not prepared for the pandemic, says Tower Hamlets doctor appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/nhs-was-not-prepared-for-the-pandemic-says-tower-hamlets-doctor/feed/ 0 186771
First pop-up classroom in the UK welcomes students back to school https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/first-pop-up-classroom-in-the-uk-welcomes-students-back-to-school/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-pop-up-classroom-in-the-uk-welcomes-students-back-to-school https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/first-pop-up-classroom-in-the-uk-welcomes-students-back-to-school/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 13:05:00 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186506 The first ever specially designed pop up class room has been created at Manorfield Primary School in Poplar, Tower Hamlets. This innovative design allows for social distancing within the classroom, as well as the opportunity to have classes outdoors. The design was created by Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture (CLTH), an architecture practice based in London.  CLTH explained that “the concept focuses on utilising outdoor space to ease the circulation load in existing school buildings. It involves reusing resources to build remporary classrooms and portable facilities incorporated with the two-metre social distancing rules.” CLTH’s director Wayne Head said: “The idea

The post First pop-up classroom in the UK welcomes students back to school appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>

The first ever specially designed pop up class room has been created at Manorfield Primary School in Poplar, Tower Hamlets.

This innovative design allows for social distancing within the classroom, as well as the opportunity to have classes outdoors.

The design was created by Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture (CLTH), an architecture practice based in London. 

CLTH explained that “the concept focuses on utilising outdoor space to ease the circulation load in existing school buildings. It involves reusing resources to build remporary classrooms and portable facilities incorporated with the two-metre social distancing rules.”

CLTH’s director Wayne Head said: “The idea for the project came from something that schools in Denmark have already adopted for their classes using tent-like structures”.

The marquee, which was launched last week, consists of just one classroom, but there are many more structures to come: “this is our first commission and we are now receiving requests from other schools in the UK.”

On the future development of the project, Head said: “We worked with global temporary structure provider Veldeman (from Belgium) to produce pop-up accommodation that can provide single marquees for complete year group settings, fully lit and heated with lecture theatre equipment and air conditioning.”

\On the present structure in Manorfield, Head added: “This is by no means our answer to what classrooms should look like in the future. We wanted to use this as a catalyst for further discussions, to rethink how schools can be designed and used beyond COVID-19.”

He added: “This is our first commission, and we are now receiving requests from other schools across the country and overseas.”

Paul Jackson, the headteacher at Manorfield Primary School, said in the press release: “Our children have been out of school for far too long. We want to bring as many children back to school in as safe a way as possible.”

Building the pop-up classroom on June 15. Pic: Curl la Tourelle Head

The post First pop-up classroom in the UK welcomes students back to school appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/first-pop-up-classroom-in-the-uk-welcomes-students-back-to-school/feed/ 0 186506
Charity launches online mentoring programme for disadvantaged children https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/charity-launches-online-mentoring-programme-for-disadvantaged-children/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=charity-launches-online-mentoring-programme-for-disadvantaged-children https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/charity-launches-online-mentoring-programme-for-disadvantaged-children/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 09:04:38 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186660 Dalston-based mentoring charity ReachOut cancelled all of their projects this year due to the lockdown and schools’ closures. But the charity has just launched a new online programme to support young people’s mental well-being.

The post Charity launches online mentoring programme for disadvantaged children appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Peter Blackwell at the ReachOut Residential in 2017. Pic: ReachOut

A new online programme to support young people’s mental well-being has been launched by a Dalston-based charity which was forced to cancel all its projects because of the lockdown.

ReachOut connects mentors with schools to build confidence in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also helps to develop core learning skills, numeracy, literacy, communication and memory skills. In Hackney, one of the 10 most deprived authorities in England, it works with teenage boys at risk of exclusion.

Peter Blackwell, chief executive of ReachOut, told Eastlondonlines the new programme aims to replicate the mentoring sessions online. Blackwell explained that ReachOut Home works via Zoom, using the breakout rooms for the one-to-one mentoring and the main space for group activities. He added: “So far I’ve seen a quiz, yoga and even a samba!”

Prior to lockdown the mentoring sessions took place face to face. He said: “At The Petchey Academy in Dalston, the kids would come at 6 PM, there would be 16 volunteers and one staff member who does the planning and safety and kicks off with an activity to start the session”. 

He said there would be a session every week, including one-to-one conversations with mentors, discussing schoolwork and how things were at home. At the end, the whole group would come back together to do an activity.

However, in March, the lockdown forced ReachOut to cancel all of their projects. Blackwell said: “We thought we’d have to cancel them for the whole year but all of the people involved have been really understanding and helpful, all the volunteers, staff, mentors and funders”.

He said: “Since then we worked to find a way to keep supporting the young people. We designed and launched a new mentoring site online called ReachOut Home”.

Blackwell told ELL: “When we talked to schools, ‘we asked what do you need from us right now?’ They said anything that can get the pupils talking and help them to deal with the uncertainty, anxiety and other mental health concerns”. 

He said: “I’m a big believer in good role models, you can always do with having great people in your life”. He added: “We weren’t sure, but the kids have been really keen to come to ReachOut online. I’ve been positively surprised by the attendance.” Blackwell said the pilot is going well and they have received good feedback from schools.

He said: “Kids need to be out playing and socially interacting but it’s not safe.” He said the government has been very cautious but it’s difficult to support young people at this time because the risks are huge. 

He told ELL: “It would be great to fund a ton of summer schoolwork and put on good quality programmes to help with social acclimatising.” He said this was particularly for Year 6 children transitioning to secondary school.

Blackwell also backed the campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford for free school meals for the summer holidays. In Hackney, 33% of pupils from local authority maintained secondary schools are known to be eligible for and claiming free meals. Hackney is the second highest borough in London after Tower Hamlets at 37.3% and higher than the England average of 14.1%.

Rashford forced the Government into providing £120m for a one-off COVID summer food fund. Blackwell said: “If all people in the public eye were as socially proactive as Rashford, it would probably be a good thing”.

The post Charity launches online mentoring programme for disadvantaged children appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/charity-launches-online-mentoring-programme-for-disadvantaged-children/feed/ 0 186660
Social distancing and serious learning – the challenges facing one Hackney school https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/hackney-school-faced-with-new-school-year-planning-challenges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hackney-school-faced-with-new-school-year-planning-challenges https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/hackney-school-faced-with-new-school-year-planning-challenges/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2020 08:14:38 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186640 Lockdown and social distancing have created new challenges for one of Britain’s most deprived schools. The pandemic has affected student well-being and planning for the reopening of The Urswick School in Hackney.

The post Social distancing and serious learning – the challenges facing one Hackney school appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Students in socially-distanced classroom at The Urswick School. Pic: The Urswick School

Lockdown and social distancing have created new challenges for a Hackney school which has one of the highest levels of deprived students in the country as it opens up again for teaching.

The Urswick School is a mixed secondary school located in the heart of Hackney. Dele Rotimi, 47, the Head of School, is facing a particular challenge in comparison to other schools due to high levels of deprivation among its pupils.

Dele Rotimi in school canteen of The Urswick School. Pic: Dele Rotimi

Rotimi told Eastlondonlines that questions around buildings and HR had become increasingly important. He said: “What do we have to do to the physical building of this school now to ensure that it is fit for purpose in a post-COVID world?”

This involved thinking about how to maintain social distancing and to meet new hygiene standards on the premises. The Urswick School will adopt new timetables to minimise contact.

Rotimi said: “Nationally, it is the 11th most deprived school according to the Department of Education who base their calculations on the percentage of students eligible for the pupil premium”. More than 71% of The Urswick School’s students are eligible for the grants.

Like others, the school has continued to teach children of key workers and those with special needs. Rotimi said: “We are the only school in Hackney dealing with these large numbers, on average 30-31 children come in each day”. He added: “But we’ve moved to a skeleton staff because at the moment we are only teaching the children of key workers and vulnerable children”.

He worried about his students’ mental wellbeing and the impact of prolonged absence on learning needs. Teachers have to send booklets home as around half of the students cannot access the internet at home.

Rotimi told ELL: “We fear the ramifications for Year 11s and Year 13s who will not sit exams this year. We hope that employers don’t disadvantage them”.

The school has maintained constant communication with teachers and staff members via email and online portals to ensure their safety. Those who need to be shielded due to underlying medical conditions or other vulnerabilities have been asked to stay at home.

As an extra precaution, he said: “We’ve kept staff who would have to come in by public transport away from the school because we feel there is a lot of anxiety around public transport”.

On 15 June, secondary schools were allowed to reopen for some year groups. The government’s policy aims to increase contact time for Year 10s and Year 12s. Rotimi said: “We will give valuable face to face time with teachers going forward, but we haven’t rushed into that as we need to plan properly”.

The Urswick School has not allowed all Year 10s and 12s to come back immediately. Given the reduced staff numbers, Rotimi said that the school has to carefully consider what kind of contact time would be most beneficial for pupils.

The school is adopting a staggered approach to increase contact time, starting off by opening the school library for Year 12s to use in a socially distanced way. Students can register to come in the morning or afternoon.

Rotimi said that the future will involve “a blend of learning”, a mix of teaching in school and online work completed remotely. He said: “We will start welcoming Year 10s back into school in batches over the next 2-3 weeks for half a day”. The students will have two hours of contact time in the core subjects, English and Maths, to receive clarification and guidance from teachers.

Although Government has said that ‘all pupils’ will return to schools in September, no details have been given as to how this will be managed although there is speculation that social distancing rules will be scrapped in favour of students being placed in ‘bubbles.’

Unsurpringly, Rotimi said the biggest challenges for schools in September still revolve around planning: “What’s underestimated by the public is our concerns around physical aspects of the day”. From working out how to close the learning gaps to the timetabling of lessons and regulations of break times, a lot of work is required to meet the needs of pupils and keep them safe.

The government has launched a study to monitor prevalence of the COVID-19 in schools. Data will be collected from up to 100 schools across England, including 15 schools in London for the initial phase. The study should help to better understand transmission rates of the virus within schools.

The post Social distancing and serious learning – the challenges facing one Hackney school appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/hackney-school-faced-with-new-school-year-planning-challenges/feed/ 0 186640
Freelance, but not on furlough payment – the Croydon musician caught in criteria trap https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/freelance-but-not-on-furlough-payment-the-croydon-musician-caught-in-criteria-trap/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freelance-but-not-on-furlough-payment-the-croydon-musician-caught-in-criteria-trap https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/freelance-but-not-on-furlough-payment-the-croydon-musician-caught-in-criteria-trap/#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2020 15:32:36 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186608 Over a million people do not qualify for furlough and self-employment payments, including those who have no self-employed income during the qualifying years, due to narrow eligibility criteria. Felice Southwell talks to one of those left out. Hundreds of thousands of people in the early stages of their self-employed career are likely to be in a precarious financial situation in lockdown due to missing out on the self-employed income support scheme, SEISS. For musician Nathaniel Brawn, this means that he will receive no financial support from the government. Brawn, who lives in Broad Green, Croydon, left his teaching job as

The post Freelance, but not on furlough payment – the Croydon musician caught in criteria trap appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Classical musician Nat Brawn is just one of many freelancers left out of the the self-employed income support scheme. Pic: Nathaniel Brawn.

Over a million people do not qualify for furlough and self-employment payments, including those who have no self-employed income during the qualifying years, due to narrow eligibility criteria. Felice Southwell talks to one of those left out.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the early stages of their self-employed career are likely to be in a precarious financial situation in lockdown due to missing out on the self-employed income support scheme, SEISS. For musician Nathaniel Brawn, this means that he will receive no financial support from the government.

Brawn, who lives in Broad Green, Croydon, left his teaching job as Director of Music at Wetherby Preparatory School, an independent boys school in Marylebone, in August last year to pursue a professional career in classical music performance as a multi-instrumentalist in orchestras, a choral conductor and an accompanist. 

Brawn, 32, told Eastlondonlines: “My past three years of income were [teaching] which was not freelance, so from a freelance point of view I have zero in income. I am ineligible.”

“They cannot even include the tax year which has just passed, that year doesn’t exist for them, but that’s where my freelance income is,” he added.

Now quarantining with his civil partner who has been furloughed from his job as cabin crew with Easy Jet, Brawn has had to return to teaching through private tutoring of piano, violin, viola, singing and flute online.

Brawn said: “The bone of contention here is that my financial year is void and I’m really ridiculously lucky that I had the resource of teaching and being able to top up my income by doing that.”

Not only is teaching keeping his financial position stable, but it also provides a lifeline for his tutees.  He said: “The music is important and that keeps their brain stimulated, but I think on a personal level it’s really important that they can have this interaction.”

“I told one one of the parents that we didn’t do too much piano in this session because we basically just chatted and she said ‘I don’t care what you did in that lesson because for me it’s just nice to know that they have someone that they can talk to,” he added.

Brawn has started to teach online over Zoom during the lockdown. Pic: Nathaniel Brawn.

But at the same time, Brawn has been struggling to keep building his profile as a performer due to a litany of cancelled gigs. He said it was “very depressing” when rehearsals, gigs and tours as an accompanist with the Croydon Male Voice Choir began cancelling in mid-March.

“That was like four months of work that was just gone, and as a freelancer that’s your lifeline.  You go ‘Oh my gosh, what can I do?’” he said.

A concert at the Royal Albert Hall in April with Wandsworth Music vocal project, working with local school children, got cancelled due to the pandemic. Brawn had been teaching songs as part of his freelance activities. 

Brawn told ELL: “We were due to have about 800 primary school kids singing songs together, and they were so good.”

“I feel really gutted for them because a lot of these kids wouldn’t ever have that opportunity to even go to the Royal Albert Hall, let alone perform in it,” he said.

Brawn said the Musician’s Union, who have been helping musicians with grants, have provided support with sustaining a teaching curriculum online. 

Help Musicians opened up financial support after finding that 25% of self-employed musicians believed they would be ineligible for SEISS and would have no other option than going on Universal Credit.  

A Treasury spokesperson told ELL: “Our wide-ranging support package is one of the most comprehensive in the world – with generous income support schemes, billions paid in loans and grants, tax deferrals and more than £6.5bn injected into the welfare safety net.”

“Those who do not qualify for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be able to access a range of other support. These include our strengthened welfare safety net, where we’ve given councils an additional £500m to support the most vulnerable in our society, and introduced mortgage-payment holidays and tax deferrals,” they added.

Brawn said the lack of support would not just affect artists. “I don’t know anyone in an identical situation but they must exist. Think about people who’d just become childminders or contractors or builders. It is really scary to think about what other people might be going through,” he added.

The post Freelance, but not on furlough payment – the Croydon musician caught in criteria trap appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/freelance-but-not-on-furlough-payment-the-croydon-musician-caught-in-criteria-trap/feed/ 0 186608
Lewisham artist’s tapestry tales of lockdown life https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lewisham-artists-tapestry-tales-of-lockdown-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lewisham-artists-tapestry-tales-of-lockdown-life https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lewisham-artists-tapestry-tales-of-lockdown-life/#respond Tue, 23 Jun 2020 15:47:59 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=186384 Embroidery artist Tina Crawford has made the most out of lockdown, using isolation to engage with new audiences and start projects in response to the changing world around her. After a career in TV ended by illness, the free embroidery artist and Central Saint Martins alumna took up artistry full time and can usually be found at Deptford’s Second Floor Studios. She has previously exhibited works across London, including at Croydon’s Rise Gallery and Tower Hamlets’ Leyden Gallery, and has permanent displays from Margate to New York. And though self-isolation has limited her usual flow of work, Crawford has found

The post Lewisham artist’s tapestry tales of lockdown life appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
Artist and embroiderer Tina Crawford. Pic: Tina Crawford

Embroidery artist Tina Crawford has made the most out of lockdown, using isolation to engage with new audiences and start projects in response to the changing world around her.

After a career in TV ended by illness, the free embroidery artist and Central Saint Martins alumna took up artistry full time and can usually be found at Deptford’s Second Floor Studios. She has previously exhibited works across London, including at Croydon’s Rise Gallery and Tower Hamlets’ Leyden Gallery, and has permanent displays from Margate to New York.

And though self-isolation has limited her usual flow of work, Crawford has found inspiration in the pandemic, keeping busy with a new embroidered tapestry piece depicting strangers’ lockdown highlights, submitted to her through social media.

Crawford, 48, said: “The tapestry came about because right from the beginning of lockdown, I knew I wanted to do something in response to the virus but I wasn’t sure what.”

“The idea is that we’re all isolated but we have these threads of connections, like connected isolation. It will be 2 metres by 2 metres because that’s what we’re all working to,” she continued.

Part of the tapestry. Pic: Tina Crawford

Initially, Crawford said, the idea wasn’t based around highlights at all and was meant to reflect lockdown experiences both negative and positive. But after receiving the first few submissions, it became clear that it was going to be an upbeat piece of work.

“It wasn’t actually highlights, to begin with. I originally put out a call saying ‘send me your lockdown moments, a moment which says lockdown to you.’ It was really vague but without a doubt, everything that came in was really positive, there wasn’t anything negative. There was pottery, gardening, bird watching and someone sent me a poem their mum had written,” Crawford said.

Through these submissions, Crawford pointed out that the concept at the heart of the project, that of interconnectivity in spite of isolation, had been all the more realised, with a litany of strangers sending her intimate moments and a number of celebrities getting involved, too, from designer Vivienne Westwood to singer Sophie Ellis Bextor.

“Mel Giedroyc [the tv presenter] has got involved. She does quilting so she sent me something, and Sophie Ellis Bextor has been in contact which is lovely. There are very few of my friends in there, it’s all been social media contacts,” Crawford pointed out. 

This, Crawford said, is testament to the time we’re living in; one of unprecedented connectivity which has enabled many of us to mitigate the loneliness which would otherwise be part and parcel of self-isolation and lockdown. 

Vivienne Westwood on the tapestry. Pic: Tina Crawford

“Twenty years ago, I was housebound for ten years due to disability so this feels like lockdown round two for me. But this has been much better, twenty years ago I just had day time TV so there’s a lot to be grateful for,” Crawford said. 

“I’ve used social media more than I ever have before. I think it makes you realise that out of all the times to have a lockdown, this has been the best time, if there is ever a time to shut away and still be connected this is it. This couldn’t have happened ten years ago.

The experience of isolation has also allowed Crawford to refocus on what she sees as important. 

“I think for a lot of people who have lost work it’s made them look at their lives and I think we’ve all had that, which I’m grateful for because it’s something that you only get if it’s forced upon you. It makes you realise that ‘this isn’t necessarily what I should be doing’ and twenty years ago when I was ill it was this feeling that kicked started me to go full time as an artist.”

“I think there will be a lot of people who come out of this and think ‘actually, I might want to this as opposed to this,’ so we can try and see it as a bonus,” Crawford said.

A stitched portrait. Pic: Tina Crawford

But Crawford’s experience in lockdown hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, with the opportunity to focus on passion projects coming at the expense of a loss of commercial work: “The commercial side of my business is that I design giftware for museum and heritage shops and all my big orders would be there and I’ve missed out on them,” she pointed out.

A lack of real-life interaction with her contemporaries has impacted Crawford, too: “I have really missed being in the studio. That’s my space and that’s been quite difficult, as an artist you can’t be a complete hermit.”

Yet even in lockdown, Crawford says there has been more than enough inspiration for her work, not least in the form of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, something she has been creating work in response to alongside her tapestry. 

“There was a slight break because when everything with George Floyd kicked off. There was a pause and I did start stitching about Black Lives Matter. I’m Asian and I have experienced racism and what happened with that jolted us, it made us all pause and think.”

Ultimately, Crawford hopes her work can speak to the world around her and memorialise the experiences people are going through. The Tapestry serves as a reminder that there are positives to come out of the pandemic and that for many of us, the balance is still tipped in favour of happiness and optimism. 

Submissions for Crawford’s tapestry remain open and can be sent to her via social media. Second Floor Studios is also hosting their virtual open studios this week via their Instagram.

The post Lewisham artist’s tapestry tales of lockdown life appeared first on Eastlondonlines.

]]>
https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/06/lewisham-artists-tapestry-tales-of-lockdown-life/feed/ 0 186384