Have you recently found a passion for gardening starting to bloom, or are you a seasoned green finger? Check out the latest newsletter from Growing Redhill for all your gardening needs; just click on the link below!
Everyday seems like a transition at the moment, a new pressure to take on board, an adjustment to another aspect of reality that’s been turned upside down. Thinking of 2.6 billion people on our planet in some sort of lockdown or quarantine is difficult to comprehend. In these sorts of circumstances, it’s easy to lose track of priorities, to keep track of routines, to maintain self-worth, to self-care. Sometimes the big picture seems so big, it feels like nothing else exists at all.
Big pictures start small however, in communities like ours; shared local economies of recycled goods are making our planet more sustainable. By passing on those household items to those in need, we are reducing carbon emissions and reducing landfill; we are tightening the strands of our community and bringing people together, we are seeing more clearly what it is we really need to live happy and fulfilling lives. It’s worth remembering that our major cities are seeing reductions in air pollution of 60%, and we are all playing an active role in these astounding figures.
Taking back control of our lives doesn’t have to involve huge sweeping gestures either, by reducing waste and recycling our goods we are not only buying less, but we are also reducing the amount of clutter in our homes. Decluttering can reduce anxiety and low mood, it can give us a sense of control over our environment and over our lives. If you are staying at home right now, YOU ARE almost certainly saving lives, it’s important to remember this fact, and you should feel comfortable, content, and in control of your environment. Decluttering happens in small steps too, our decluttering expert Keith Paxton offers this advice ‘little and often if you feel overwhelmed, any step forward is better than none, and focusing on what’s achieved, not just what’s left to do’.
Don’t panic if you have items you’d love to recycle but don’t know how to fix either, an old laptop, a stereo, a dishwasher maybe. We have local residents who are experts in the upkeep and repair of these sorts of household appliances. Ultimately, in times like these we get to experience the essence of what community means, what communities can achieve, how by taking back control, you are helping others take back control too. If you can… recycle…declutter, empower yourself and others, and let’s keep Merstham community led.
To find out more about the Friends of Merstham decluttering club, or our repair cafe, and to be put in touch with one of your local experts; send a email over to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
From wild deer grazing on the flowers of hanging baskets in urban Japan, to wild coyotes enjoying the novelty of newly built dens on the golden gate bridge. To seeing entire cities re-appropriated by wild monkeys in Thailand; these are images I don’t think many of us would be expecting to see in 2020. The natural world has never been as emboldened in entering our modern urban spaces. The Corona virus pandemic has torn up the rulebook of how we expect our modern industrialised world to function and accommodate us, and many of us are shifting our gaze onto those that are free to wander and fly where we cannot.
Before the words COVID-19 were a part of the national vocabulary, and before social distancing was something to be encouraged as a viable pastime; we created a Facebook group in the hope of encouraging local residents to get more involved with the green spaces that surround them. To take photos of local wildlife, upload them to our group, identify and discuss them and hopefully help others identify their discoveries too. A few weeks ago we had thirteen members in the group, who in absolute honesty, were mostly staff members and a handful of dedicated volunteers. Today we have almost 140 members. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of what’s being posted and discussed as the feed is now starting to move too fast with the sheer number of uploads.
I never thought I’d see a red kite flying so low over Radstock Way. I never thought I’d see a heron hunting from the roof of a house nestled in the corner of Purbeck Close. The Merstham Wildlife Sightings and Guide has been an incredibly humbling and inspirational project to tend, enjoy and watch grow. To see our community taking such incredible steps to evidence this time, and to keep people connected to a world so many of us would never have the opportunity to see and discover, is amazing, and offers hope within the deluge of pandemic stats and spread.
Our hope is that we keep this passion for our local wildlife maintained, not only after the pandemic begins to slow and dissipate, but for future generations, who will be able to pinpoint the precise moment we rekindled our love and admiration for the natural world.
To join Merstham Wildlife Sightings and Guide please register here https://www.facebook.com/groups/2680932325302923/
What do you do with a broken toaster, a lamp that won’t turn on, or holes in your favourite shirt? Bin them? No way, bring them for repair, have a chat and a cuppa at Repair Café.
From March onwards come to Repair Café and meet staff from Furnistore, Redhill. Since 1995 Furnistore has been finding new homes for unwanted bric-a-brac, soft furnishings, kitchen appliances and furniture. Items offered at an affordable price, and at a discounted price for those on means tested benefits. Find out what furniture they have in stock, register as a customer, find out how you can donate your old furniture whilst getting the things you want to keep fixed at Repair Café.
PAT testing also available.
Merstham Repair café meets on the 2nd Monday of the month at Age Concern, Weldon Way, Merstham, RH1 3QB, 1pm – 4pm. Next meeting: 9th March.
Join the revelation and save things from landfill!
Call 01737 333461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information
It seems a life-time ago that I first came to Merstham to carry out Community Development work for a partnership of organisations including the Borough and County Councils, Police, Raven HT and health. The local Churches (through a grant from that wonderful local organisation Merstham Millennium Trust) have remained a funder and supporter of the role after other partners withdrew to focus on new priorities and the role became a Reigate and Banstead Borough Council funded position. I was unbelievably lucky to have had my contract extended and then made permanent and given the opportunity to spend over 14 years serving this community. This month, however, it is finally time to move on. It will be a huge wrench to leave Merstham and all the friends and colleagues who have supported the many projects I have been involved with over the years. I am fortunate enough to be able to continue to work in Community Development, but my role is now more strategic and covers the whole borough
During my time in Merstham, I have had the pleasure of working on so many projects including the setting up of the Red Oak Children’s Centre, Merstham Neighbours, the Easter Project and Merstham Community Facility Trust (MCFT). I am so proud of all those incredible people who have made these projects so successful and very happy to have been able to play a part. My work with MCFT has been particularly important to me and the shops on Portland Drive and latterly the Hub have provided a unique venue from which to work in the community and from which to provide access to services and activities. The work with the People’s Health Trust has been particularly satisfying and has given us an unprecedented opportunity to really let local people have control over funding rather than imposing ideas from outside
While I am sorry to be leaving, I am comforted to know that there are so many talented people who will continue the work. Alice Oswell who has replaced me as the Merstham Community Development Worker has been developing some great projects (including the Munch Club which provides meals for families during school holidays) and is bringing her own personality to the role. The People’s Health Trust project is now being led by two of the most extraordinarily talented community workers I have ever met (Charlotte and Marcus) and I have no doubt they will continue to achieve great things with and for this community
Although this is technically goodbye, I will continue to be a member of the congregation at St Katherine’s and a volunteer for the Merstham Parks and Green’s group, so you won’t be getting rid of me completely!
I would love to have the opportunity to say, ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’ to all of you. My last day will be Friday 28 February, please do pop down to the Hub (1-3pm) for a cuppa and a chance to reminisce!
Recently, there have been a number of deaths of people related to benefits being withdrawn
In the 21st Century
People have starved to death
Just let that sink in for a moment, and then, I hope, you will get angry and then you will want to do something about it
Quite often, the people who suffer most are the most vulnerable – those with mental health issues who might ignore letters because they are too scared to open them; people with mobility issues which make it difficult for them to get out and about; people who are too proud to ask for help
Over the past few months, we have been thinking about how we can help our community be more resilient to benefit decisions. We are more fortunate than many places – you can get advice from Moneywise and CAB and food from Loveworks or the Community Fridge at the Hub. But we know we could do more and that there are many people who don’t come to the hub at all. Although a lot of support agencies will help with the preparation of applications for benefits and the writing of appeals, very few offer support at appeals or assessment meetings and from the feedback we have had from residents, this is often where people feel they need most help. We have started thinking about a project to empower local people to help one another (using the IT drop in at the Hub) and to train a couple of local residents to be volunteer advocates at appeals and assessments and would love to hear from you if you think you could help. We want to help our community to gain the skills they need to help one another – to make our community a place where no-one would be left behind. Where no-one could starve to death. We want to make curious neighbours who will ask questions if someone is struggling. We want to make a community where someone will reach out if they think someone else needs help. A community where people can signpost one another to places and people that can help. We can all play a part in being that community
We are looking for people who care passionately about social justice and who would be willing to undertake training on benefits and could volunteer to support our residents at meetings (typically in Guildford and Sutton). Contact Marcus if you would like to find out more
These two articles highlight the issues faced by some of the most vulnerable people in our society
Recently an article has been shared on our social media platforms entitled ‘The Psychological Impacts of Poverty, Digested’. The article has become a central discussion point in the hub over the past week, some it’s insights well known already, and some of them less so. The fact that growing up in poverty, which 14 million of us in this country currently are, can cause the kind of atrophy in the brain most commonly seen in stroke victims, should be a cause of serious concern for all of us. That working class children, by age 4, know on average thirty million less words than their middle class counterparts, should be equally worrying. To be able to escape poverty then, not only must you have luck, and be in some way exceptional, but also flourish with a brain that has been developmentally compromised , and then permanently damaged as a result. It’s this sort of information that should make us take stock of the kind of generations we are hoping to build for the future.
It’s not all doom and gloom however; research also indicates the power of green spaces, compassionate parenting, and community connections in creating psychological resilience to the detrimental effects of growing up in financial insecurity. It is a source of hope that what is happening in Merstham; within our community, within its projects, are directly in accordance with these remedies. We should highlight projects like Merstham Parks and Greens that are ensuring the growth and maintenance of our multitude of green spaces. We should be spotlighting our community controlled allotment, how it encourages the growth and distribution of locally sourced fruit and vegetables. We should be celebrating the construction of community connections through sharing our thoughts and feelings at projects like Rendez-vous and Easter Project. It is communities like Merstham that are signposting the rest of the country in how to best fight back against inequality and austerity. Together we are creating the resilience that is ensuring that everyone has a fair chance in succeeding within our society; so it’s not all doom and gloom, together we can make that difference. See you at Rendez-Vous!
Some of you may notice something a little different arriving through your letterboxes in the next two weeks. Something that might be a little more exciting than the usual bills, adverts and catalogues. It’s something we’ve been hard at work getting right over the past few weeks, and we’re happy to say it’s ready to go, it’s your brand spanking new newsletter, and we’re over the moon to announce you’ll be receiving it soon.
Your new newsletter is filled with all the amazing things happening in your community right now, and most importantly, how we can help you be a part of it. There’s updates on current projects, aswell as all the info you need on how YOUR hub can directly help YOU; this could be anything from an old hoover that needs fixing, to a bit of money trouble you may be currently having, or if you’re looking for a little help with a mental health issue.
Your newsletter lets you know what you need to know about making the most of the brilliant community that you live in. Once you’ve had a look at the newsletter, and hopefully found a project or event that’s caught your eye, you can pop down to the hub to chat with either Charlotte, Marcus or a member of the hub team! If you’d rather sit tight though, our new community engagement worker Marcus will be popping by to answer any questions you might have, to talk about how our projects can speak to your needs and interests, and most importantly, that you feel happy and confident about being more actively involved in the positive changes happening within your community. We can’t wait to start talking, and we really hope to see you soon.
Thank you for being a part of the Merstham community!
Merstham Community Facility Trust
For a sneak peek of what you could be taking part in, head on over here http://www.facebook.com/friendsofmerstham
Meet our latest addition to the Merstham Community Facility Trust team
Hi everyone, my name’s Marcus and I’ve recently started working for MCFT. I’ll be taking up the position of community engagement officer. I’ll be helping Charlotte with the projects we’ve got going on at the moment at MCFT. My main focus is to increase engagement with these projects and to help raise awareness about what we’re doing and to help motivate residents to get more involved in our local community.
My passion for community engagement first began as a support worker working with young people with behavioral and emotional difficulties. As a support worker and keyworker I worked closely with young people and their families helping them through some difficult times, and in doing so I understood the need and importance of community welfare and action in sustaining good mental health and hope for the future. After my time as a support worker I studied Psychology at Roehampton university and went on to complete an MSc in psychiatric Anthropology at Brunel university. Before joining Merstham I also volunteered for Healthwatch Hackney in central London, making sure that local healthcare and social services met the needs of local residents and remained under their control.
If you see me around Merstham please say hello and I’d be happy to have a chat. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
A really big ‘thank you’ to the volunteers and staff who made the Fun Day such a success again this year!
We were really pleased to welcome around 350 people to the event (slightly down on last year, probably because of the road works on Bletchingley Road which have caused a fair bit of chaos over the past few weeks!)
It was great to spend time with our neighbours just chilling out and having fun. The Pizza Project and the Merstham Mix Cafe provided great food and refreshments and the Merstham Horticultural Society ran their annual show (our allotment team secured a number of awards for their produce!). Children had the chance to bounce around on the inflatable castle, to blow enormous bubbles, make fairy skirts or have a graffiti name plate made (all for free!)
It was lovely to see the display of photos depicting the 60 years of the Merstham estate in the library, its amazing to see how much has changed in that time! Thank you to Glyn Elliott from Raven Housing Trust and Ian Wight from our Merstham Memories group for putting the display together and chatting with people who came to share their memories of our wonderful community
There was entertainment from talented local musicians The Blarney Stone and Surrey Hills Big Band
Local crafts people used the opportunity to sell their wares – everything from knitted baby cardigans to handcrafted jewelry
We would love to hear from you if you would like to get involved with next years Fun Day – we always need people to help with planning, publicity and people willing to help on the day – maybe we can make it even bigger and better next time!
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