At the start of 2019 One Norbiton undertook a two-year trial to explore the value of a Community Group looking after the three Norbiton Community Halls on behalf of the Council.
During 2019 the overall use of the three Halls significantly increased and there were over 15% more bookings by new paying organizations. During this first year there was also an associated rise in income for RBK which came to £ 25,801.99 i.e., (over £5,000 more than the contractual payment of £19K paid to One Norbiton.) There was also a marked rise in ‘free’ use by RBK Officers thanks to the new ease of access. If this had been charged for it could have generated a further £800 of income.
Nearly all Users twice reported high levels of satisfaction with the service. Furthermore, One Norbiton met all its social targets by providing new opportunities for the disabled and disadvantaged on the estate to undertake rewarded Volunteering close to their homes. Thus, by all criteria during this first year, this trial was highly successful.
Unfortunately, it was clear that most of this success had been achieved by an unsustainably heavy workload. One Norbiton realized that if it was to continue to work into 2020, it needed to reduce the hours specified by the contract and get more realistic payment. However, the RBK contract that had been constructed by officers previously doing the job, instead specified that the recompense for 2020 should be reduced to just £9,547.96.
Fortunately, senior Officers and Councilors agreed that this arrangement was unfair and should be changed and One Norbiton continued working on the presumption that a fair revision was in place. However, it soon emerged that this revision had been overruled and before any further action the Covid pandemic intervened. This prevented all letting of the halls but despite these stressful circumstances CREst and One Norbiton continued to supervise the Halls and provide essential Food Bank services.
Our conclusions are that, in 2019, this trial showed that a not-for-profit Community organization could manage Community Halls in a very beneficial way for both residents and users at the same time as reducing the Borough budget for this activity by as much as 60%. However, setting this up again would require an imaginative and reasonable administration to frame contracts with realistic terms and not to be tempted to abuse volunteer goodwill by reducing costs below 20% of established rates.
My father, Dr William Finny retired from General Practice in 1929 when he was aged 65. I was then six years old so I have only a few memories of our home “Thamesa” (on the corner of No 6 Kingston Hill and Wolverton Avenue)-I can remember the waiting room, the consulting room and especially the dispensary with all the rows of bottles and the pill-making machine. In those days it was normal for the doctor to prescribe whatever was needed and to dispense it himself after surgery time and then for the “bottle boy” to deliver to it on his own bicycle to the patient that evening. Bottle boys were quite a normal part of medical practice and presumably we had a series but the only one I remember with great fondness was George Pepperell- scarlett hair and I suppose about 14. His job was to wash the medicine bottles, stick on labels “Three times a day” “Before meals” or whatever and then perform a magical feat of wrapping the bottle in white paper and sealing it with a red sealing wax. Sometimes, as a very special treat, I was allowed to stick labels on bottles but never to actually wrap it up and seal it.
My memories of car transport are as follows. Father had two, so that one could be rested! I do remember a car journey to Portsmouth taking three days! Father never drove his pony more than 20 miles a day and so transferred this sort of thinking to his car. Therefore, it was inevitable that a 60 mile journey must take three days. Of course he had started his career with pony and trap transport. Two ponies were kept in what later became the garage. These were kept fit by being given, in turn, a hot bran mash and four of father’s pink pills after every hard week’s work. The Bottle boy sat beside father on their tour around visiting patients. Father drove and the bottle by held the reins while he went into the various houses.
Visiting patients in Kingston Vale after dark was quite a dangerous thing to do. Because the equivalent of our present day muggers lurked on those unlit country roads. So father always carried a police whistle and a loaded stick. I never heard that he came to any harm. He probably terrified the muggers! In those days, the doctor was never seen out of doors without his top hat on. I remember a row of seven hatboxes labelled Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc finishing with “Best” for Sunday. Presumably they all moved down one as when Monday became shabby it was given to us to play funerals with. In this way the doctor was quite conspicuous and was probably not stopped and robbed. More because the robber knew he wouldn’t have much money on him, than because he was on an errand of mercy.
Confinements always took place in people’s homes. Father said he’d stopped counting but he had dozens of godchildren. He was very much the family doctor; seeing his babies on a regular basis, going to their christenings, confirmations and weddings. And if, after a year of them having been married, he had not been called in for a happy event, he would present the embarrassed couple with a Gooseberry bush.
He adored babies and children and was, in return, very well loved. At his memorial service in 1952, the church was packed with ex-patients, standing in the aisles. And afterwards all of them lined the road from the parish church to the Guildhall to say a fond farewell to a man who had lived for 88 years at a fast and furious pace and always had had time to stop and give them his undivided attention. He had become a barrister and was elected Mayor of Kingston seven times. And had enjoyed his life enormously.
Random additional comments
This was, of course, before the NHS. To pay for medical care for the whole family, Pubs used to run “slate clubs”. Father was the slate club doctor for the George & Dragon and the Alexandra pub in Park Rd and probably for a couple of others too.
There was was often a queue outside the surgery door and a speaking tube ran from there to an outlet beside my fathers bed. You had to pull out a stopper and blow up the tube. This produced a piercing whistle in his ear which woke him up. Then you could hold a conversation up and down the tube
Surgery for Acute appendicitis was performed, of course, on the scrubbed kitchen table sterilised with lots of carbolic. Dripping chloroform on a round thing – like a large tea strainer- with gauze on it, was used as the anaesthetic. Father always used it on me for tooth extraction. I remember the smell so well – also the awful vomiting afterwards. He was an MCh as well as MD and BAO so he enjoyed the occasional emergency operation.
When Dr Finny was Mayor of Kingston the mock Tudor building with Saxon Kings on the corner of the Market Square was built.
His daughter Elizabeth Finny who wrote the above was my patient.
Jill Preston our Vice Chair and the Chair of CREst has written this excellent account of the activities of her team during this crisis
There have been a number of questions about what we are doing in Piper and our mission to continue the work we were already doing with the Tuesday Group . This has been running for a number of years and aims to create a safe environment to feed and assist local homeless and vulnerable people.
We have made every effort to keep this going throughout the pandemic even though we have had to change and adapt , as with everyone else. Last week we distributed 54 hot meals – more of how we have adapted later.
We do a food stock-check after our Saturday Foodbank. This allows us to dip into our donated funds when we shop on Sunday. Gez and I have perfected a system whereby I text her when I start shopping and she picks me up in her car afterwards to unload in Piper Hall.
Our key aim on Sunday is to ensure that we have sufficient supplies for our Tuesday Group session. We are very lucky to have a number of volunteers who cook nourishing food and bring it in just before we start at noon on Tuesday. Ed Naylor’s hotpot is always a hit!
Thanks to the pandemic we have had to increase the variety of goods we offer to our clients. We now continue to offer a choice of hot meals ( sadly in take away containers) plus a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, ‘kettle packs’ [ items that those in temporary accommodation can ‘cook ’if they only have a kettle such as cup a soup, pasta in a mug, juices, cereal , sandwiches etc.] In addition, we have toiletries and pet food plus cakes and snacks.
Monday – I usually go to Piper Hall to take frozen meals out of the freezer and rearrange the hall into ‘Tuesday’ mode. This means swapping around tables from the Saturday layout. Suzanne and her fellow SFRA members drop off ‘treats’ for the next day and Des Kaye from ‘Save the World’ calls overnight to drop off fresh fruit and other goods which we use to help our Tuesday Group clients.
Tuesday – This used to be our key focus of the week. Sadly, times have changed and we have been doing our best to keep up. There are normally a couple of us in Piper Hall by 10/10.30am to fire up the ovens and prep the vegetables etc for the hot meals.
In order to adhere to Covid restrictions we have had to increase both the number of volunteers and constantly revise the Risk Assessment. Tuesday is also the day that we receive a visit from Debbie at City Harvest where we are lucky enough to receive goods which can from fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, dairy and a variety of other things. We are lucky to have access to a chest freezer and an American Fridge Freezer which our local councillors have helped with.
Wednesday – another day where we review the food supply and reach out to our local supporters to ensure that we have sufficient supplies. This includes The Dons, Voices for Hope and , best of
all Sainsbury Sury Basin. We have been working in partnership with them for several years – long before the Covid pandemic. Our beautiful Treasurer, Gez, collects donations four or five times a week.
Thursday –This is when we assess the food situation and decide how much of our budget we allocate to buy in sufficient fresh fruit and veg to supply the ever-increasing numbers of clients.
By this stage we are doing our best to plan who can help out on Saturday. This depends on weather conditions ( do we erect the marquee?) temperature ( do we have volunteers to offer hot drinks? )
Friday – Myself and Trudy spend several hours in the hall receiving deliveries from the Don’s, Sainsburys and private donators.
We are lucky to have an excellent local wholesaler who is very reliable and with delivery. The 200 plus we are currently supplying does not make it possible to totally rely on donations.
Over the last couple of weeks we have had to seriously review our health and safety procedures as we are currently helping some 200+ residents. We have found that making changes to the halls before our Saturday session speeds things along. This can take some three or four hours.
On Friday evening Save the World and SFRG deliver donated goods ready for the ‘big day’
I spend several hours checking the register to update details and have found that it is faster to print out the list which I check manually and then update on Sunday. This is printed along with delivery list ready for the morning
This is our busiest and most stressful day. Gez checks the Save the World donations so that we can offer fresh goods to clients. I normally have two or three locals to attend at about 10am to prepare boxes for those who need food delivered. Michael and his supermarket trolly are wonderful. He has recently had a teenage lad with him to help as the delivery requests have doubled ( 13 this week)
Then it is a question of setting up a safe system for local residents – marquee and signs up, sorting tables out and marshals allocated. Then body warmers issued. We also allocate someone to hand out hot drinks as the wait can be up to an hour. RBK have kindly laid matting to reduce the quagmire and opened up a fence in the small green as an exit. This prevents clients crossing over by the existing gate. We have two or three ‘sorting tables’ outside which allows people to reject any unwanted items without holding up the queue – this can often snake round the building. We now allocate marshals to ensure everyone socially distances. Another volunteer brings in unwanted cans and clears the cardboard boxes.
On Saturday we also need a number of volunteers inside the hall – preparing fruit and vegetable bags, preparing small and large food boxes, and keeping us supplied with frozen and fresh food to hand out to clients as they are ticked off the list.
We are also lucky enough to have Cllr Dave on hand doubling up as a marshal outside but able to sort out urgent issues raised by residents- normally housing issues.
Shortly after 2pm we take in all the tables, marquee etc and leave any remaining food outside the hall for passing residents to help themselves. Then a stock check ready for Sunday and home to check the number or residents who attended ready to start again on Sunday!
Following requests from residents CREst are holding an additional Foodbank from noon until 2pm on Saturday 19th December. This will be open to serve CRE residents and those in the surrounding area. We would appreciate it if this could be publicised throughout Norbiton Many thanks Jill Preston
Dr Mike D’Souza Chair of One Norbiton& Jill Preston Chair of CREst
In 2018 we published our first report on Norbiton’s Homeless. What follows is a brief update analysis of all attendees at CREst’s Tuesday Luncheon club and our own future proposals.
This is a survey of 154 Tuesday Club attenders. It confirms that Norbiton’s needy and homeless people have multiple psychosocial problems. Attenders are mostly young male adults. Over 30% report having had severe trauma during their upbringing and ongoing stress since, leading to chronic mental, physical and social ill-heath.
57% report recent homelessness,
31% Abuse, 30% Depression,
14% Psychosis and
14% personality disorder and arrested maturity.
High proportions suffer from addictions:
Opiates 42% and
Measurement of their Quality of life using Thymometry, not unexpectedly, showed it to bedramatically lower than that reported by the rest of RBK’s general population. See graph above.
Despite their behaviour attracting little public sympathy, they clearly merit being prioritised for help. Because their current cost to the public purse is so high, providing better services could prove to be a very cost-effective investment, and we should begin by improving services to our vulnerable pre-schoolers. Because of the Covid crisis, they are at last being provided with reliable shelter and adequate food. Our hope is that this survey will be of some help to RBK in developing joint plans with other agencies to secure a better future for them in the long term.
Since 2017 over 550 individuals, both clients and helpers, have now attended CREst’s Tuesday Lunch Clubs. 154 of these have agreed to fill in analysis forms often on more than one occasion for a small “incentive” fee (£2) provided by private research funds.
80% (123) were Male. 66% were aged between 25 and 65yrs. Sadly 2% died young during the study.
Housing & Other Problems
57% (88) reported having been Homeless at some time during the period of Analysis
46% were not homeless but gave us a KT post code Only 2 were from out of borough (TW)
5% reported being illiterate or having language difficulties. 11% were Eastern European.
41% were smokers 12% Gamblers 18% were soft drug addicts
37% were Cocaine addicts 42% were Opiate addicts 53% were alcoholics.
Individuals, on average were spending £50 per day. The total daily spend for the group as a whole was in excess of £6000– the highest spend being on Cocaine & Opiates.
25% felt chaotic & in fear of dying. Only 8% admitted to living off crime and 2% to being dealers
Most attendees had multiple long-standing complex Social/Medical problems
Testing the value of promoting more Community Care and Self-help
We developed a score to measure how much people were helping themselves and others. Using this has been found to reduce addiction in the past see CareCreds
A subset of 40 attenders agreed to try earning CareCreds. After 6 months, 61% recorded better quality of life, 81% were healthier and 57% were spending less on addiction (on average £24 less per day). Perhaps such incentive schemes could be refined further. Incentives as little as £2 seem to work.
Current Activity and its Costs
Throughout the Covid Crisis, Jill and her volunteer team have continued to run the Tuesday Club and added two extra days. She also has been issuing £50 worth of Food bank bags to attendees. The demand is increasing by 5 new households a week and it has been difficult to keep pace with costs and to cope with the stress on volunteers. Indeed without charitable donations the total costs since the start of the crisis would have approached a quarter of a million pounds.
Most of our clients have experienced severe stress in early life resulting in mental ill-health and loss of resilience. Others are victims of the common epigenetic tendency to develop addictions. Many have lost self-respect and have become their own worst enemies, adding to their past stress damage. We believe they must continue to be offered secure, housing as in Ohiothat remains available even when unused. Also they must get more personal and community support and incentives to change. Doing this will be not only be humane but should also prove to be the most cost-effective way for us to help.
PREVENTING THESE PROBLEMS: Providing warm, tolerant and personal home care for vulnerable young families e.g. Boosting the existing Sure Start Maternity Grant. Evidence suggests that any measures that reduce childhood stress will be beneficial.
CURING THESE PROBLEMS: Any effective cure for addiction would be a major help. However because addiction seems to be an epigenetic problem we’ll have to wait some time before any cures are developed and meanwhile focus on social approaches.
CARING FOR THOSE NOW CHRONICALLY DISADVANTAGED: Most of our attendees are quite good at caring for each other. However experience with our CareCredsscheme strongly suggests that even badly disadvantaged people can benefit by being incentivised to do more to help themselves and others. So it may be worth persisting with this or other incentivisation schemes.
PROVISION OF SERVICES: CREst’s luncheons are already meeting an important need and their expansion during the COVID crisis has been welcomed. However to continue they must be adequately resourced. At the moment there is insufficient finance and too few volunteers. Reasonable costing needs to be done.
PROVISION OF FACILITIES: Our lunches are being served in Piper Hall which will shortly be demolished. Alternative accommodation must be established soon. Madingley Community Pantry was set up and run by our volunteers to help meet the above needs. It is currently being used to store our food donations. These are being requested not only by the homeless, and local needy families but also by Refugees from Refugee Action. We must consider whether Pantry provision will be required on the newly Regenerated estate.
In future, proper collaboration between all Agencies must be organised.
Since June 17rd One Norbiton, CREst and CRERA and have joined with our three Local Councillors, Emily Davey. David Ryder-Mills and Ollie Wehring to set up a new Community Board.
The objective is to provide CRE residents with a negotiating voice during the forthcoming years of Regeneration. Until the Covid crisis is over we will be using “Google Meet” to meet on-line.
All residents on the CRE should already have received a letter of inviting those interested to apply to be considered for one of the 4 extra places on this Board. Hopefully many will apply to be selected to do this job , including some of our younger residents.
The agendas and minutes will be published on the RBK and community group websites and we will set up a WhatsApp group and a dedicated email to enable everyone to make a contribution.
Please spare a little of your time to ensure our new estate will be as good as it can be for all its residents and have as much community spirit as can be generated
CREst (Cambridge Road Estates Community Group), a charity that exists to look after the health and wellbeing of Cambridge estate’s residents, has fed hundreds of local people in need since the beginning of lockdown three months ago.
As many foodbank outlets in churches were forced to close their doors at the start of lockdown, CREst increased its offering at its foodbank at Piper Hall to accommodate the extra people in need.
Listed in the top 2% of most deprived areas nationally with an estimated refugee population of 38%, the Cambridge Road Estates have been severely affected by the pandemic.
In addition to this the charity says that it became so overwhelmed with requests for food from people from the wider Kingston area that it has now extended its offering to Norbiton ward.
Jill Preston, Chair of CREst, said: “Every week we are currently feeding about 150 people at the foodbank in Piper Hall, plus offering hot meals to a further 30 people.
“The Foodbank morphed out of our Tuesday Group where we previously offered donated food every week thanks to our partnership with Sainsbury’s.
“Until recently we issued Foodbank vouchers to those in need which they took to one of the Foodbank outlets in the area. However many of them were run from churches which are now closed so we are doing our best to plug the gap for these people.
“We have now joined forced with Voices of Hope, Foodbank and City Harvest to satisfy the additional need for food, and have set up JustGiving as we also need to shop for items that we are short of.
“To say we are stretched is an understatement. We are feeding a large number of refugees who often face challenges accessing Universal Credit, along with many more homeless people who would normally be given food by passers-by in the town centre, but of course the town is empty so now they come to us.
“We are also seeing people who ordinarily would never ask for help; people who had steady jobs prior to lockdown but have now found themselves on the breadline. You can tell these people are mortified to be asking for help.
“I cannot turn people in need away so we have made the decision to extend our foodbank offering to Norbiton ward residents.”
Reaching out to more people has been made possible thanks to a donation from UK Homebuilders Countryside, but the charity says it still urgently needs donations.
CREst is particularly keen for more pulses, legumes, lentils (dried or tinned), plus fruit and vegetables and any homemade healthy snacks and baked goods for children to snack on.
Jill said: “We have a wonderful community of kind people here in Kingston, and I can’t thank them enough for their generosity, but in light of the current crisis where we do not know what the future holds, we need all the donations we can get.”
The foodbank at Piper Hall is open from 12pm til 2pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And the charity requests that donations be made during these times.
(Residents are allocated a Unique Food pantry number and will be able to use this weekly to receive a food package. All that is needed is Name, Address and phone number plus how many children and adults are living in the household. There is one voucher per household. Residents are advised that the food boxes are quite heavy so help or a trolley might be useful).
For more details on how to help CREst please contact 07910 844427.
With the pandemic crisis getting worse every day we are doing our best to help those in most desperate need. Most of our local homeless have now been found accomodation in hotels. Jill has been opening Piper Hall every day at 12.00 midday to hand out food. She is also accepting both food and other donations from anyone who wants to contribute. This will be distribute by her to those in difficulties. We are doing our best to make this a fair process and cannot agree to accept everything that people offer us. Also if recipients do not behave properly i.e. refuse to get into an orderly queue or observe social separation etc. they may be refused any service at all.
We will be doing an inventory on what we have in our pantry for distribution to needy families. Jill has sent me photos of the furniture etc that she is keeping for redistribution in Piper Hall. I am printing these below.
Charity Quiz Night in aid of Mayor's Charity Appeal 2013/14
Join us on Tuesday 4 March for a fantastic quiz night in aid of the Mayor’s Charity Appeal 2013/2014 (supporting the Alzheimer’s Society and Princes Alice Hospice).
The event will be held in the Guildhall, Kingston. Doors open 7pm, quiz starts 7.30pm. A cash bar will be available on site for drinks. Please feel free to bring your own nibbles. Event closes at approximately 10.30pm.
Latest deadline for entries is Monday 24 February. To book please contact the Mayor’s Office, on 020 8547 5027/5030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org