May 2020

Covid-19 help, volunteering and resources – our updated information page is here

Latest on the Epidemic – and exit strategies

Take it seriously – it could be you!

Lots of numbers have flashed across the headlines during the current Coronavirus epidemic, but it can all seem rather abstract until something happens close to home.  Our mailing list is modest compared to other Neighbourhood Forums around the borough, partly due to being late starters, but mainly because we have aimed to enlist local organisations rather than residents in general.  Our 500-plus mailing list has now had its first deletion due to Coronavirus, following the recent death of Chin Ong, who represented Lambeth Pensioners’ Action Group.  He was also involved with Coldharbour Ward Labour Party and Mayall TRA.  I last saw him at a Health networking event at West Norwood Library in December.

So, despite mixed messages from the Government about going back to work or to school, we need to maintain social distance for the time being and avoid unnecessary risks.  I have been very impressed by how well local people have respected the rules so far, though right in the centre of Brixton, space is too tight at peak periods – but more about that below under Consultations. 

Helplines and Advice

Lambeth Council

The general helpline number for most coronavirus-related issues is 020 7926 2999.
For business-related queries, use the business helpline, 020 7926 2344 or e-mail to enterprise@lambeth.gov.uk 

Domestic Abuse

In life-threatening emergency, dial 999 and press 55, then the police can assist without you having to speak.  Freephone calls can be made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247

Within Lambeth, the Gaia Centre provides support in any cases of gender-based violence, call 020 7733 8724 or e-mail lambethvawg@refuge.org.u  or for more details see their website, www.refuge.org.uk/gaia

Limited Mobility? Or if you are self-isolating

Connect Lambeth can help you with a food/ medication pick-up service and food bank vouchers. E-mail to  mycommunity@ageuklambeth.org  or phone 020 7346 6800 (option 6)

Scams? 

If you are offered testing kits, protective kit, cures, or delivery/collection services, other than from trusted sources, you can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

Re-opening? 

A number of umbrella bodies are issuing guidance on how to adapt workplaces to resume business.  We have mentioned a couple in earlier bulletins and on our website.  Last week’s e-bulletin from Brixton BID set out 3 tests proposed by CIPD before bringing employees back to work. In addition, the British Chambers of Commerce have published some basic guidelines, mainly for office-based businesses.  For retail and other public-facing operations, the Directory of Social Change told us about the Re-opening pack issued by the Charity Retail Association.  Our Secretary is willing to forward both these last 2 documents, but the CRA guide is already being revised as Government advice changes. 

We hear that staff of Lambeth Libraries are actively exploring ways in which libraries could re-open, though the range of services may be limited. A key issue is that many people depend on libraries for access to the Internet, but are left deprived at a time when so much has become available only on-line.

Consultations

Competing for Pavement Space

You may already have seen temporary barriers at a few pinch points like Brixton Water Lane, to widen the pavement space.  Most of our Victorian streets were laid out with pavements barely 2m wide, so pedestrians have to step into the road, even without the complication of bus stops.  Lambeth Council is inviting suggestions for more places where pavements should be widened or other measures be put in place, on a temporary or permanent basis.  They are using the same Commonplace software as for the Brixton Livable Neighbourhood Consultation in February, and again ideas for reducing car traffic or supporting cycling can also be included.  This site enables you to see what others have already suggested, by location, and support them or make your own comment.  No clear deadline but sooner is better – see https://lambethtransportcovidresponsemap.commonplace.is/

Another Brixton Plan?

We have no idea of the timescales yet, but Lambeth planners are gearing up for a review of their Supplementary Planning Document (or SPD) for Brixton Town Centre.  Don’t get too excited, because experience tells us that, however worthy the plan, the Council tends to ignore it when it suits them!  As a preliminary move, the Independent Film Trust have been commissioned to produce a video to assist with local consultations, and have already been enrolling local people to contribute to production.  Enquiries to Charlotte Knowles or Michelle Scarlett at  michelle@independentfilmtrust.org

Last chance to comment on Lambeth Hospital changes

We flagged this up in our April and May bulletins, so a final reminder that the closing dates for comments is Sunday 31 May.
In essence this is about moving mental health services to the Maudsley campus in Denmark Hill and other clinic sites, but there’s also the issue of whether the site is simply sold for residential development, or whether some housing for NHS workers is included within the site.  Responses to lamccg.hospitalconsultation@nhs.net or via the website: https://lambethtogether.net/lambethhospital/

Funding, Training and Support

The Funding Crisis

Lambeth Council’s offer of one-off grants to VCS organisations closed very quickly after it opened.  The Council was overwhelmed by the demand, but fortunately other funders have been changing their priorities so that charities and community projects can keep going through the crisis.  The greatest challenge is for groups who had been largely self-reliant through income from events, user charges and premises hire.  They now find themselves with big holes in their budgets while “live” activities are suspended.  Several funders are now giving priority to meeting the costs of adapting to new ways of delivering services, such as “on-line” sessions and webinars, as well as basic adaptations to meeting places to allow social distance to be observed.
Do keep an eye on the e-bulletins from Integrate and the Directory of Social Change – see www.dsc.org.uk

On-line Training

We hear about lots of on-line training sessions or webinars, but too often with barely a day’s notice, so it’s difficult to share details with you all.

Impact Brixton is now hosting regular training sessions on Zoom.  Highlights include 7 things every funder will want to know, on Friday 22 May and a Legal Health Check on Friday 5 June.  Previous sessions can be found on the Resources page of their website.
If you want to offer a 30-45 minute workshop/ talk to the Impact Hub community, contact marketing@impactbrixton.com

Awesome Tech Training are offering an on-line version of their Build a Website in One Day with WordPress course for £50 inc. VAT if booked before 31 May.  See www.awesometechtraining.com or enquiries to Rachel on 07 950 247 966 or rachel@awesometechtraining.com

The FSI is holding a Virtual Fund-Raising Conference on 18 June, during Small Charity Week (17/22 June). Charge £30 but free if your group’s income is under £100k a year.  Enquiries to admin@thefsi.org.uk or to info@smallcharityweek.com

Volunteers wanted?

Link UP London offers flash support from virtual pro-bono consultants. Their team of skilled volunteers have the perfect blend of senior experience and industry-specific knowledge to help you through your organisation’s next steps.  This is an opportunity to work through issues such as HR, Law, business strategy, IT or marketing to realise your potential.  Link UP will do the co-ordination, all you have to do is explain your needs, and then have 1 hour free to talk through issues with members of their Skilled Volunteer pool.  Phone calls will be 1-hour long and at a time which is agreed and convenient for both parties.  More on their website at www.linkuplondon.org or contact them at hello@linkuplondon.org

Volunteers Week takes place over 1-7 June each year and offers a chance to publicise your needs and pick up ideas – see https://volunteersweek.org

Opportunities to be a volunteer are more limited at present because some projects have shut down, but there are others who are desperate for more helpers.  You can still sign up to volunteer with Lambeth Council at www.lambeth.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/how-you-can-help

Age UK Lambeth have multiple volunteering opportunities.  In particular, they have re-launched their befriending scheme, as MYNeighbour. More details at www.ageuk.org.uk/lambeth/get-involved/together/
If you have specific needs for volunteers, we will be happy to feature them in future bulletins.

Other News and Events

Brixton Windmill still producing flour

The team of volunteer millers at Brixton Windmill have continued to produce flour despite the lockdown, observing strict Government guidelines.  They are now inviting donations to help them continue supplying Brixton Flour to two local food banks:- The Floating Food Bank, based in the Community Hub on the nearby Blenheim Gardens Estate;
– The Norwood and Brixton Food Bank, which we have mentioned before, part of the Trussell Trust. 
The campaign for donations has been successful and production for the foodbanks has been secured for the foreseeable future. See www.brixtonwindmill.org

Windmill guided tours and community events are on hold during present restrictions, but the plans are to train more tour guides during August ready for a soft launch in September.

Businesses re-inventing themselves

Brixton Local is an amazing new website that connects you to local services still working during the current outbreak.  There were 61 enterprises listed last month, but expect more to come on stream as the Government encourages more businesses to re-open – see https://www.brixtonlocal.life/

Food businesses have been undergoing a massive shake-up, with cafes and restaurants shifting to take-away and home delivery services to keep the cash coming in.  Some have used their usual supply networks to support a retail grocery service for the same reason.  Even so, the core “eating-out” market in the UK is expected to be reduced to a third of last year’s turnover.
Nationally, some chains are lobbying to be allowed to use more pavement space for customer seating and tables outside cafes.  Is this something to resist, given the lack of pavement space in much of Brixton already? 

Learning from our neighbours

Many organisations are looking at how they can put more events on-line.  At the other end of Coldharbour Lane, the Camberwell Arts Festiva next month will be wholly on-line. It will run from 13-21 June at  www.camberwellarts.org.uk  but in the meantime you will find an A-Z of Camberwell taking shape on the same site. Worth a look to see what works and what does not!

Greenspaces and Green issues

Make Room for Others!

It’s all very well the Government removing restrictions on how much time we spend outside, but most of our public open spaces are small, and even Brockwell Park has been closed once because it was too busy.  Myatt’s Fields Park Project  have asked people to limit themselves to one hour a day in this small park, to make room for other people to take a turn at using it too.  Their tennis courts have re-opened, subject to limitations, but must be booked in advance – contact  enquiries@myattsfieldspark.info

Playground seeks funds

PAPA’s Park in Pulross Road is a pocket playground that survives on donations and hire fees.  Volunteers have done a great job in raising money for the new play equipment, and for work to start on a new multi-sports pitch in September.  Sadly the current cafe and hall are past their best, and PAPA needs their revenue stream to keep running. The aim now is to build an eco-friendly community space for everyone to use, for classes, events and gatherings.  The first step is to raise £7,000 to put in a planning application and apply for the next round of funding.  See their website,  www.papaspark.co.uk or contact:  papasparkltd@gmail.com

Sustainability Fund

Do you have a green idea that could turn into a sustainable business? Ground Control, a leading supplier of landscaping and maintenance services, has launched its Evergreen Fund, to invest 5% of annual profits in providing seed funding to social enterprises and entrepreneurs keen to deliver environmental impact.  Over the next 5 years, the fund will invest £5 million in early-stage environmental ventures, and set aside £100k a year towards the planting of new native trees, to create protected areas of biodiversity.   See https://www.evergreen-fund.co.uk/

More on Health & Social Care

The NHS is still open for business

Doctors are asking residents not to put off contacting the NHS if they need to consult a doctor or nurse during the present pandemic.  If you are already a patient at (say) Guy’s or St. Thomas’s Hospitals, you should continue to access the care that you need, and keep in touch with your clinical team.  Emergency departments (A&E) at St. Thomas’s and King’s College remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The urgent care centre at Guy’s can provide help with minor injuries and urgent medical problems.

Keep Fit – Keep Calm

Myatts Fields Park have shared details of an on-line Boxercise fitness class open to Lambeth residents, 10 to 11 am on Wednesdays.  E-mail to boxercise@yahoo.com with Register 10am in the subject line to receive joining instructions.

Lambeth Connect and DASL are offering a number of on-line exercise classes to help you keep fit during lock-down.  All are accessed via Zoom.  More information at www.disabilitylambeth.org.uk or contact Nara Zaman on 07 512 566 875 or at intosport@disabilitylambeth.org.uk

Lambeth Fostering Fortnight

Could you be a fostering hero?  During Fostering Fortnight, Lambeth Council are appealing to the community for more foster-carers.  Now more than ever they need new people to come forwards and apply to become foster-carers.  Fostering during lock-down comes with unique challenges, and the example of Alex is featured on the website as somebody willing to welcome vulnerable children into their home – see www.lambeth.gov.uk/foster-hero

Keep in Touch

How was it for you? How are you coping, as a household, community group or enterprise?  Is your organisation just lying dormant until it’s safe to come out again, or are you trying to respond and adapt to the current situation?
It’s that time again when we prepare a budget for what the Neighbourhood Forum expects to do over the next 12 months.  We need to hear NOW if there are issues that the Forum should be helping you with, or taking up on your behalf. It’s not easy to plan ahead at the present time, but do tell us if you want us to do something new, or even the same things differently.

Share your news

3Space at International House is gearing up for most users to return from 1st June onwards, but we are not rushing to return to our hot-desk space.  For the time being, we would still prefer e-mails, virtual meetings or even old-fashioned phone calls to face-to-face meetings.

We are continuing to circulate these bulletins twice a month, so if you want your news included in the next issue, please send it before 8th June to the Secretary, Alan Piper, at apiperbrix@aol.com or for enquiries, phone (020) 7207 0347

Keep our mailing list up-to-date
Please notify us at admin@brixtonneighbourhooodforum.org
– If you are changing your e-mail or other contact details;
– If you want to add a colleague or neighbour;
– If you have moved away or no longer wish to receive these bulletins.

The forum for community groups and individuals around Brixton