April 2020

Changing Forum Priorities Programme Changes

Programme Changes

Our programme of meetings is suspended for the time being, so the meeting due on 23 April is cancelled.  The next scheduled meeting should be on Thursday 23 July, but we will see how the situation develops in coming weeks. Our Community Showcase event on Windrush Square has been deferred from Saturday 27 June to Saturday 26 September, subject to confirmation with Lambeth’s Events team. Lambeth’s various Neighbourhood Forums usually have a joint presence at the Lambeth Country Show, but the Show has been cancelled for this year.

How can we help you?

We have increased these bulletins to twice a month, but in the absence of face-to-face meetings, are there other things that your Forum should be doing?  Remember you can post short notices in these bulletins to reach most other groups active around Brixton.  We are also trying to keep the website updated in these times of frequent changes and restrictions – see www.brixtonneighbourhoodforum.org So, what else would be helpful to support your group? 

Haven’t you heard?

We have been picking up news and information from a wide range of contacts in recent months, which we continue to share here if it seems relevant.  In an ideal world, you would already know about everything listed below, but it’s easy to miss things, or get confused by unreliable sources, so we apologise if you have heard most of it already.  But if you discover a couple of new items, it’s all been worth it! If you want us to forward an original source (with more links and detail), contact Alan Piper at apiperbrix@aol.com

News, Funding, Support and Training

Responding to the Coronavirus emergency

Lambeth has set up a dedicated enquiry line, (020) 7926 2999 open between 8 am and 8 pm. Also see the relevant pages on their website, now well signposted from www.lambeth.gov.uk ( See below for a separate line for business-related enquiries.)

Emergency funding is being offered to help charities and community groups continue to deliver services through the present crisis.  Many face the problem of their income from user charges, events or premises hire drying up because of premises being shut down, while demand for their services is often increasing.  Lambeth has announced that deadlines for funded groups to submit reports and accounts will be extended, though we advise touching base with your grants officer for more detail. London-wide, the GLA, City Bridge Trust, Bloomberg and other contributors have put together an emergency support fund to help voluntary groups and charities to continue their work – see https://londonfunders.org.uk/our-blog

If routine admin processes like the Annual Return to the Charity Commission are likely to be delayed, call them on their helpline 0300 066 9197. The Government has already announced a relaxation in deadlines for annual returns to Companies House.

Mutual Aid Groups have sprung up across London, based around Facebook or Whatsapp.  For the group centred on Brixton, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/214918153220011/

Volunteers are being sought to help sustain community efforts over the weeks ahead – if you are not already committed to a local project, go to www.lambeth.gov.uk/volunteer to join in.

Brixton Market is now limited to established Fruit and Vegetable traders, with more stringent separation between pitches, and cashless payments taken as far as possible.

Cafes and restaurants are limited to takeaway or home delivery services only – for the time being, this does not require amending existing planning permissions.  Nevertheless Lambeth have asked such businesses to let them know at planning@lambeth.gov.uk and foodhealthandsafety@lambeth.gov.uk

Foodbank: The Norwood & Brixton Foodbank works using a voucher referral system, with vouchers issued by a number of local agencies. The outlets at St. Paul’s Church, Ferndale Road; St. Luke’s Church, West Norwood; and the rear of St. Margaret’s Church, Barcombe Avenue, off Streatham Hill are closed to visitors, and they are now operating a delivery service.  For more details see their website www.norwoodbrixton.foodbank.org.uk/ To donate food, use www,bankuet.org.uk  or www.givefood.org.uk

Financial support for businesses

Among our member groups, there is a wide spectrum from charities through social enterprises to small businesses.  At the commercial end of the range, the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) is the natural umbrella body to look to.  Even if you don’t pay business rates, membership is still open to micro-businesses.  A recent BID e-bulletin provided a useful summary of support available, from which the key points are:

Lambeth Council have a dedicated business helpline on (020) 7926 2344, or e-mail to enterprise@lambeth.gov.uk Lambeth is supporting local business by making advance payments of the Business Grants announced by the Government, but it may still take 2 weeks to process payments.

There are various Government concessions to ease cashflow pressures, including deferral of business rates, VAT payments and (for the self-employed) income tax.  The BID itself is delaying enforcement of the levy it normally adds to business rates.

The Smallbusiness.co.uk website is also a great source of independent free advice, including how to access the Government grants and loans announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Various sources of information can also be found here

Training at a Distance

Details are trickling in of more on-line courses, webinars and videos, so training does not have to wait.  The downside is that you don’t get to chat with other participants and compare experiences during the tea breaks, which can be the most valuable part of a normal training course. The Directory of Social Change has a wide range of topics available as on-line courses, typically at £5.99 each, but now free access for the time being – see www.dsc.org.uk

Technology to the rescue?

Many of us are trying to get used to “virtual” meeting applications like Zoom or Microsoft Teams – let us know how you are getting on. For charities, community groups and churches, Tekgia continues to offer a range of mainstream software at discount rates – see their website, www.tekgia.com


And finally, a reminder of some sites/ contacts to check out for fund-raising purposes – which is most suitable will depend on how you operate:Crowdfund Lambeth can boost the income from any local crowdfunding campaign – seecrowdfunder.co.uk/funds/lambeth

Give as you Live is an online fund-raising platform for UK charities and good causes.  The platform allows supporters to make direct donations, create fund-raising pages, or raise free funds for the charity every time they shop online at over 4,300 retailers.  Transaction fees apply.  See www.giveasyoulive.com

WhatCharity publish a monthly on-line bulletin of grant opportunities coming up, as a subscription service.  Offers of volunteer placements have also become available recently and now there is a facility to seek other resources from companies.  Enquiries to charities@whatcharitymail.co.uk

Health and Social Care

Connect Lambeth

Despite all the recent focus on the Coronavirus epidemic, issues with disabilities and chronic conditions have not gone away.  Connect Lambeth is a consortium formed by several organisations including Age UK Lambeth, DASL, and Lambeth Carers Hub. Their Gateway service is available to offer advice, support, information and reassurance.  The public can call on (020) 7346 6800 (option 6) or e-mail to mycommunity@ageuklambeth.org Offers to volunteer should be e-mailed to volunteer@ageuklambeth.org If your group is doing something which complements these efforts, or you want to link up to combine resources, contact ourcommunity@ageuklambeth.org More information is at http://connectlambeth.org/

Mental Health services moving from Landor Road site?

Following the item in our March bulletin, more details of the consultation have been received.  Community mental health services are already moving to 3 new Living Well Centres around the borough, and other community settings.  Inpatient facilities are considered inadequate by modern standards. The proposal is to move these to new purpose-built accommodation on part of the Maudsley Hospital site at Denmark Hill.  There is more detail on the website, www.lambethtogether.net/lambethhospital

An obvious local concern will be what takes the place of the present (mostly modern) hospital buildings.  One option is simply selling the site for housing development, which would raise most money to finance the move, or to aim for a package which includes providing some housing for NHS staff within the old site, when rising rents are a real problem for junior staff.The deadline for comments is 31 May, to  lamccg.hospitalconsultation@nhs.net or there is an online survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lambethhospitalconsultation

More News and Events

The Future of Brockwell Hall

Brockwell Park Community Partners hosted an event on 29 February to feed into the next stage of bidding to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the renovation of the Hall in the centre of Brockwell Park.  Key issues include the mix of uses to include in the finished building, trying to cover the future running costs, access arrangements, and identifying historic features to safeguard when adapting the Hall and stables to new uses. There will be further consultations down the line – the target was November for submitting the final bid, though this may now slip.

News from the Windmill

The plan was to open the Windmill to the public for tours one weekend a month from the Easter weekend onwards, but that’s on hold for the time being. However, the Friends of Windmill Gardens report that flour is still being milled (using the 1902 millstones and an electric motor rather than the sails). It is being sent out as before to a number of local outlets – see www.brixtonwindmill.org and was recently featured on BBC London News

Keep in touch

Share your news

For inclusion in the May issue, be sure to send it before 28 April.  However there is likely to be an extra edition later this month, and updates to this website depending how the situation develops and if we have urgent news to share with you.  Please continue to send to the Forum Secretary at apiperbrix@aol.com Please bear in mind that during present restrictions, Forum team members are working from home rather than the office base at International House, so co-ordination is a bit of a struggle and responses may be slower.

Keep our mailing list up to date

Please notify admin@brixtonneighbourhoodforum.org if you want to add a neighbour or colleague to our e-mail list; if you are changing your e-mail or other contact details; if you have moved away or no longer wish to receive these bulletins.

Paper copies too?

Since the Forum was launched in its present form, our approach has been to engage with local organisations and activists through e-mail and occasional meetings.  Our recent bulletins have included lots of e-mail contacts and website links, but if you know somebody who would welcome a paper copy of the bulletin, please pass on their address so we can post it on.

In addition to official sources, our thanks go to all the local organisations who have been supplying information and updates in the past month or two, including Age UK Lambeth, Art4Space, Brixton BID, Brixton Community Base, Brixton Pound, Brixton Therapy Centre, The Brixton Society, Brockwell Park Community Partners, Friends of Tate Library Brixton, Friends of Windmill Gardens, Impact Brixton, Longfield Hall, Loughborough Farm, Mosaic Clubhouse, Myatt’s Fields Park Project, Norwood & Brixton Foodbank, 198 Gallery, 7 Traits Leadership Learning / Wintrade Global. We are members of the Lambeth Forum Network and Locality, so we also share news from them.