Jill Preston Chair of CREst & Dr Mike D’Souza Chair of One Norbiton Dec 2021
The Tuesday Club is a voluntary community venture. It was started on the 11th of April 2017 by Jill Preston, the Chair of CREst with the support of Dr Mike D’Souza, Chair of One Norbiton. Its aim was to provide a personal service to ‘Street-drinkers’ who had surged in Norbiton following RBK banning them hanging out in the centre of Kingston. The club was based on CREst’s existing Mental Health Drop-in event that had been started many years previously, but which was no longer attracting many attendees.
The new Club was advertised by word of mouth as being open to all local needy and homeless. We then recruited Sainsbury’s Sury Basin whose customers donated weekly food etc. in receptacles placed at the supermarket exit.
UPDATE ON ATTENDANCES AT THE CLUB
In 2017, between 7 and 29 people began attending each week and 475 meals were prepared and served in Piper Hall. In 2018, weekly attendance rates rose; ranging from 16 to 57 a week and a total of 2093 meals were served. In 2019, the attendance rates steadied to between 24 and 65 a week and a total of 2,112 for 2019. In 2020, before Covid between January and March weekly attendances varied between 32 and 52 and a total of 488 meals were served.
By 24th March 2020 the pandemic had created lock-down. However, this did not stop the Tuesday Club which has continued throughout to the present day. Indeed, to meet the new needs of Covid, activities were expanded to include a Saturday Food Bank outlet until 31st July 2021 by which time we were promised the Food Bank would take it over. Unfortunately, this relief service has only started up this month. At the time of writing (January 18th, 2020) we have just. welcomed our 1000th(!) attendee to the Club. Over 60 of these have been volunteer helpers or ‘Observers’. Since mid-October 2021 weekly attendance has risen by 36% to an average of around 70 with a high point of 90 on 21/12/21. This increase seems to be related to the recent drop in Universal Credit and the huge rise in power costs.
Our Saturday food bank service attracted 68 of our usual Tuesday attendees as well as additional and
different customers from the CRE who were in critical need of Food and support. On average, every Saturday, we were supplying food to 137 adults and 81 children. Furthermore, about 64 food parcels were prepared and home delivered every Saturday.
We are fortunate that at least one of our three elected LibDem Councillors has been attending each week to help with more complex problems that residents encounter. This personal approach has helped to alleviate some of the stress which residents have been under.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR CLUB ATTENDEES?
Demography: Of the 967 attendees 386 (40.3%) have been female.
Age was not collected. Children and babies have attended but the majority are young to middle-aged adults Nationality:
269 (28.1%) have non-UK surnames (These include Polish, Greek, South Asian, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern and West Indian names)
What is their domicile status?
When we studied them in 2020 we found that 57% of our attendees stated that they had
been Homeless at some time. Post codes gathered all our non-homeless revealed that, except 2 with TW codes, all were Kingston dwellers with KT addresses.
How needy are our attendees?
Their Income: From a separate survey in 2021 of 32 attendees 18 (56%) of whom were women. 29 (91%) had incomes below the poverty line.
28% reported their personal weekly incomes after housing as less than £70pw
47% as less than £152pw
16% as less than £245pw
28% were in income stress and
28% in debt.
Their Health problems too were considerable; with 13(41/%) having Physical problems and 18(56%) having Mental health problems while 15(47%) were lonely. When we studied them in 2020 a high percentage had addiction and other health problems. Not surprisingly, their measured Quality of life is very poor. Previous reports on this issue reveal that it is dramatically worse than the rest of Kingston’s population. We have had to deal with occasional behaviour problems related to attendees emotional status, including recently to some objecting to wearing masks (they were given visors) and others refusing vaccinations. Most of our attendees, however, have been very friendly and collaborative.
Many of our health findings have been corroborated by word of mouth from attendees and a recent survey done by Iona Lidington, Kingston’s Director of Public Health, and her team. See “Cambridge Road Estate: A Health and Wellbeing Analysis July 2021” The Key suggested priorities of this report to improve the health and wellbeing of people that live on the Estate are:
(1) making it easier to book a GP appointment.
(2) developing a mental health strategy.
(3) reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
(4) developing a strategy to help reduce drug abuse on the Estate. (5) improving Estate services and cleanliness; and
(6) help residents with managing their long-term health conditions.
In addition to such anonymous surveys, we have the advantage of face-to-face contact with this subset of this population in the CRE and its environment. In the context of the current policy to “level up”, this presents a real challenge to our relatively wealthy Borough. A personal approach seems most likely to enable change so in the club we use first names rather than surnames.
The Club has participated in Test and Trace and undertaken a separate mini survey in 2021. We asked 30 consecutive attendees and found that 22 had been Covid vaccinated but 27% (8) were refusing, sometimes vociferously. Because of working from home, RBK officers were rarely on the Estate in person. CREst and the Club however valiantly maintained an unbroken service and were often asked for help by residents.
WHAT ASSISTANCE IS THE TUESDAY GROUP PROVIDING?
We set up a ‘Just Giving ‘platform which was supported by many residents and allowed us to continue offering fresh fruit and vegetables (not available at ordinary Food banks) This initiative was regularly supported by our MP, Sir Ed Davey and his wife, Cllr Emily Davey who donated goods every week. We also received donations from ‘Save the World’, City Harvest, The Dons , M&S and many ordinary citizens and businesses such as the Bricklayers Arms have come in bearing clothes or other gifts. It seems to us that Kingston is really a very generous place.
In practice, we open Piper Hall from Noon until 2pm every Tuesday offering company, a hot meal, takeaway sandwiches, drinks, and a selection of food. Clients are allocated 10 vouchers and can choose to ‘spend ‘them on a large selection of tinned goods and toiletries. We also provide fresh fruit and vegetables (which are not available in the Food banks) and have left surplus of these together with bread and in-date ready meals outside Piper hall for free collection by residents. We now participate in KVA’s Good Food Group (run by Voices of Hope) for sharing healthy eating advice, and any surplus of donated food and we had valuable help from The Sunflower Streets Residents’ Association with the Food Bank.
Before Covid, we provided a venue for friends to meet up and play Pool, table tennis scrabble and other games as well as get advice on Housing etc and occasionally First Aid. Now we are participating in the Test and Trace battle with COVID and maintaining conviviality at a social distance.
Which Voluntary and Statutory groups have come to observe or contribute to the Club?
We have welcomed observers from statutory and voluntary organisations such as Spear, KCAH, NHS, Public Health, Wellbeing, City Harvest, RBK Officers, and CRE Caretakers Save the World, Community Enterprises Love Kingston and the new vicar, Hugo Foxwood, who is opening a Community Cafe/Food-bank in the Archway where people can get Power vouchers.
WHO ARE DELIVERING THE TUESDAY GROUP SERVICES?
The club has been run by Jill with the invaluable help over the years of 72 Volunteers. A major component of the work has been the logistics of transporting heavy food.
A former Labour mayor of Kingston has frequently cooked our meals and all three of our local Liberal Democrat councillors have attended and helped. We have had cross party approval and RBK Council Officers have generally been supportive particularly by ensuring the free use of the Halls and by refurbishing unused space for our use as a pantry. However, organising and providing the current level of voluntary help has been very stressful indeed and we list below all those who have participated:
List of Volunteer Helpers since 2017
Allie Croker, Amanda Oram, Amelia Marinko, Angel Levick, Anna Tugendhat, Annabeth Derry, Astrid, Brendan Hynes, Caroline Frost, Cecilia Wilkins, Claudia Estrada, Claudia Gravira, David Ryder-Mills, Debbie McArthur, Despo Stevens, Dylan Trivett, Ed Naylor, Elaine Erskine, Emily Davey, Emily Rhoades, Emma Hinde, Evie Hinde, Fadia ALRomeed, Geraldine Burgess, Gwen Harlow, Gwen Oearson, Harry Shepherd, Holly Rhoades, Hwa Bleakley, Iain Benson, Imogen Marinko, Iren Rakosa, Jane Shave, Jill Preston, Joanna, Jonathan Seyghal, Joy Bowers, Jules Doig, Kay Homes,Kerri, Lara Gibson, Lily Herbert, Lucia Esteban, Luciana Estrada, Lucy Hastings, Lynlie Clark, Maeve, Magali Berger, Mapheson Janarthan, Marcela Benedetti, Margaret Hannington, Mary Graham, Mathusa Janarthan, Michael Burke, Mike D’Souza, Miranda Gibson, Monica Gibson, Monique Sinclair, Nigel, Nikki Borthwick, Nina Dulanto, Olie Wehring, Pamela Dulanto, Phil Hutchinson, Rachel Herbert, Rashid Ali, Rhiannon Harlow, Ruth Dawson, Sarah Clay, Sara Derry, Sonia Delgado, Suzanne Seyghal, Tony Forecast, Trudy Barker.
WHAT OTHER AGENCIES ARE PROVIDING SIMILAR HELP IN KINGSTON?
KCAH and the local Churches Food bank are invaluable (particularly for Fuel poverty vouchers; indeed, without the help of our local Churches it is hard to see how many disadvantaged people in Kingston would survive. In addition, we have had help from KVA’s Food Group and from NHS Wellbeing for addiction services.
HOW WILL WE ALL KNOW WE’RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
In additional to the Director of Public Health’s Key suggested priorities we would like to suggest the following:
- Prioritise feeding those below the poverty line
- Support young mothers with under-fives.
- Maintain halls and meeting places
- Increase youth clubs and other supportive communities on the CRE
- Deal personally with people in most need to produce genuine levelling up.
- Continue to monitor the effectiveness of interventions e.g., with ongoing collection ofdata to measure
- Reduction in local public service costs (We need the Council to provide data)
- Decreased local crime rates (We need the Police to provide data)
- Improved local educational attainment (We need the local schools to provide data)
- Reduction in local benefit claims (We need the Local Statistics to provide data)
- Improvement in local health measures (We need the NHS to provide data)
- Reduced local family breakdown (We need the Courts to provide data)
- A measurable increase in community stability and local quality of life. We ourselves need to do serialSurveys that include a measure such as Thymometry to examine this and collate the above datasets.
CREst’s Tuesday Club has now involved nearly a thousand individuals. This report provides clear evidence that even in a borough as wealthy as Kingston, many people live below the poverty line and have considerable housing, health, and social needs.
In recent months the attendance at the Club has increased by 36%. We predict that because the cost of living is rising so fast, many more will have ongoing needs that our statutory organisations will be challenged to meet.
For the four years since it started, our Club model seems to have worked well, providing some much- needed relief. It has been described by some attendees as “a lifeline”. However, the stresses due to the Covid pandemic are still far from over and further stress due to the regeneration of the CRE is imminent. Therefore, we believe it would be wise to closely monitor the quality of life on the estate and to do our best to ensure that current levels of social support are increased.
Therefore, CREst & One Norbiton will continue to collaborate with all other relevant agencies to provide reliable support networks. We hope that those formulating local plans will continue to give services such as ours appropriate priority; For example, that the Council continues to provide adequate free interim Hall and kitchen provision, without which we would cease to function.
However, we recognise that our decision-makers, like many other citizens, tend to be increasingly busy and often transient occupants of their jobs. Therefore, to really solve our attendees’ problems and “to level up” we need long term imaginative cross-party programmes that have buy-in from the voluntary sector and community at large for their implementation. On the CRE, such future programmes must also gradually incorporate the views of our new, incoming property-owning residents who will live on the estate after regeneration. We need now to build a shared commitment if we are to aspire to make Kingston a great place for everyone to live in.