Community kindness helps CREst to feed hundreds of people during the Covid-19 crisis

By Yvonne Winborn

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.

To donate please go to


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.








With the current complete lock-down because of the Corona Virus I’ve plenty of time to update our website. Such a lot has been happening .

The One Norbiton AGM

This went ahead on 12th of March as planned and all current officers were re-elected.

The CREst/ One Norbiton Tuesday Club

This has continued to prosper largely thanks to Jill and her Team (See picture below).plus Joseph Asghar not in the picture.

Throughout this year this team have continued to provide about 50 hot meals every week for Norbiton’s needy and Homeless. This was all helped by a grant from “Love Kingston” and donations by the customers of Sainsbury’s Sury Basin, “City Harvest” and “Save the World”. This voluntary service is now in its third year of operation and to date over 2500 meals have been served to over 500 different visitors. (We’ll be publishing a fuller report on this website soon but click here for a summary of who have been attending).  

In addition, we hand out Food Bank vouchers and clothing and occasionally bedding etc. We try our best to collaborate with other agencies such as Wellbeing, Spear, KCAH, and the local churchs who are doing similar work. Sadly, newcomers are still arriving nearly every week. Helping this group of Norbitonians remains one of our priorities and we expect to be doing this for some time.

One Norbiton Pantry

Since RBK confirmed our short-term lease of the Community Hub (Shop) at a peppercorn rental we have used our own pre-existing grant resources to reconfigure and refurbished it.  Furthermore, Lix Bishop and her RBK Team have helped us re-commission the adjoining room to the Hub as a Community Pantry (this contained only old domestic cookers rescued from the Madingley fire).  This previously underused public space has now become a valuable resource for storing food for the Tuesday Group meals and for use as an emergency Food Bank etc. This could also be real value in the present crisis.

Administration of the Community Halls

As many of you may know, on 1st if Jan 2019 we accepted a two-year contract to test whether our Community Group could do a better and more economic job of administering Queen Mary and Piper Halls than RBK as well as possibly generate savings for a “Community Chest”.  A review of 2019 reveals that so far this has been a big success both in terms of increasing the use of the halls by local residents, maintaining Hall user satisfaction and reducing RBK’s Staffing costs.At a conservative estimate our 2019’s earnings were over £30,000 delivering an 80% rise or an extra £13,500 to RBK Housing’s account and they have agreed to continue funding us at 20k p.a. 

Regeneration approved by CRE Residents

Over 76% of the CRE residents have now voted in favour of regeneration. Hopefully the current pandemic will not greatly delay building work starting.


This will take place on the 12th of March in Piper Hall at 6.30 pm following CREst’s AGM. Please contact Jill or myself if you would like to add any agenda items See below our Accounts for 2019


AS AT 31 MAY 2019

Company limited by guarantee



Fixed Assets:00
Current assets:24,62422,042
Prepayments and accrued income:00
Creditors: amounts falling due within one year:(1,400)( 0 )
Net current assets (liabilities):23,22422,042
Total assets less current liabilities:23,22422,042
Creditors: amounts falling due after more than one year:( 0 )( 0 )
Provision for liabilities:( 0 )( 0 )
Accruals and deferred income:( 0 )( 0 )
Total net assets (liabilities):23,22422,042


Events and Updates

Sorry for the long gap since I last wrote. Much has been happening. CREst’s Funday, organised by Jill, went off very well and was attended by the Liz Green, the LibDem leader of the Council and Ian Thomas RBK’s new Chief executive.

Ian Thomas and Jill Preston at the CREst Fun Day 2019

The meetings on the proposed Regeneration have been numerous and there are now models of the new apartments on display in the Tadlow Hub. The Residents, ballot will not take place until early 2020.

One Norbiton and CREst are busy refurbishing their Madingley Hub and setting up the emergency food pantry. We continue to cooperate feeding 40 to 50 needy and homeless Norbitonians every Tuesday thanks to an excellent team of volunteers.

The running of the Halls has been very busy and onerous, particularly for Jill. She has been called at all hours seven days a week – an unacceptable workload for a paid worker let alone a volunteer. Therefore from now on she will be available only during normal weekday office hours (9.00 to 17.00) and on the Hall Mobile 07762 808787. It is possible for users to book the Halls on this site at any time (see the site menu).

However this community service is earning us a very useful income to support all our other activities (which are, of course, non-profit making). Better still we have been attracting new hirers such residents holding parties at weekends. At our meetings of users, there has been general approval for how we have been administering the Halls . Under our agreement with RBK, when our earnings exceed the halls’ running costs, the difference will be used to build up a Community Chest for the benefit of all residents on both Estates. 


For the last month PPCR have been working on the Cambridge Road Estate helping residents understand the implications of Regeneration. Janet Edwards and Lurline Cumberbatch are visiting every home to discuss individual concerns. They can also be contacted by Freephone on 0800317 066 or landline 020 7407 7452 and E-mail on [email protected].

In addition they are holding weekly POP-UP sessions on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3.30pm usually by our Community Hub at the foot of Madingley and weekly DROP-IN in Piper Hall and Childerley on Wednesdays between 3.00pm and 6.30pm. Please make use of these if you need information.

Congratulations Jill!

Jill Preston has been awarded the Frances Moseley Community Award. Jill who is chair of CREst and Vice Chair of One Norbiton received her plaque in the Mayor’s office this Monday from Cllr Emily Davey after a glowing citation on the enormous amount of work she has done for the Cambridge Estates community. See a photo from the ceremony below.

Some ideas for CRE Master-planning

 Can a rebuild help social regeneration? 

Dr. Mike D’Souza M.D. F.R.C.G.P. F.F.P.H.M. FRSA Diplomas in Immunol. Dermatol. and Management of Drug Misuse 


One Norbiton was set up to improve quality of life by developing more integrated and supportive neighborhoods. Here are some ideas on how regeneration might help achieve this mission. 

Factors that may be reducing neighbourliness on the present CRE 

Some issues like low income, mental and physical Health and high population turnover (1) contribute to our present poor social cohesiveness. Such problems can only be marginally addressed by housing rebuild. However there are others that might well be improved. These include:

(a) lack of security e.g. during the bad weather of 2018, Madingley tower witnessed threatening invasions by the local homeless upsetting families with young children. 

(b) Frequent and prolonged lift failure stressful for wheelchair bound disabled and young mothers with buggies. 

(c) Substance abuse is a long standing problem and Illicit drug-dealing continues to thrive on CRE and recruit our youth – this problem is aided and abetted by the Estate’s present structure with its long balcony rat-runs facilitating escape from police and providing vantage points for look outs. 

These and many other factors, have increased our levels of social stress and have reduced our measurable happiness and health levels well below the rest of Kingston. 

Nevertheless, the vast majority of residents are law abiding and things have been steadily improving over the last decade. This is witnessed by the many residents who, on survey, would opt against regeneration or to return if regeneration goes ahead. 

A few conceptual Proposals 

In my 40 years doing home visits as a GP, I often noticed that some of the most successful and supportive neighbourhoods lived in cul de sacs, an observation that has been shared by others see references (2) and (3) 

Therefore, I would propose that an early phase of any new structure could be based on making a construction that encouraged characterful neighbourhood formation rather than anonymous “housing units”. Perhaps this could be achieved by making a series of simple cul de sac crescents coming off a central communicating rising curved road. These could incorporate a series of shared public spaces with a central greens and gardens. These could also be play areas where children could play safely while being overlooked by their families and neighbours, (as indeed they are on our existing Madingley Green). The size of each proposed neighbourhood could vary around a target of about 60 dwellings. The proposed curving access roads might also permit individual gardens or balconies to be created on the top of roofs of the houses below rising to quite a high level. The fabric of the buildings would use modern technology that would help both sound-proof and insulate each unit and reduce running costs as well as noise and items like TESLA solar roof tiles and power walls Heat pumps etc. will perhaps be considered to help achieve this but some may unfortunately too expensive and premature.

In the wake of Grenfell, our regeneration could showcase how much we prioritized social regeneration. See Fig 1 for a photo-diagrammatic representation of this idea made from £1 coins each of which represents one helical neighborhood of about 60 dwellings. The engineering costs are reduced, if instead of curves there straight -edged twelve-sided spirals like the modern £1-pound coin). To get 60 units per neighborhood the spiral would only need to rise to five stories, although this would depend on the land area and the stacking of these helical neighbourhoods. Apart from these social advantages such a unique structure could be strikingly attractive with flowering gardens both on both the inner and outer aspects of the buildings

Fig. 1 

/Users/michaeldsouza/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Masters/2017/10/14/20171014-100016/IMG_0016.JPG

Helical Home Streets 

Spiral interconnected stacked neighbourhoods surrounding central communal areas with amenities (18×60 = 1080 units. To create over 2000 units, this overall size of this diagram we would need to be doubled. 

The basic idea of encouraging community could be partially explored if in the earlier phases of a conventional tower block the dwellings on each floor were designed to become a sub-community with a shared focus and name. 

The renaming of the whole Estate and designing each of its phases to have a recognizable individuality. The present use of the names of Cambridge towns could be retained. Retaining individual character would also facilitate visitors to the huge new Estate in finding their way. The issue of pepper-potting i.e., integrating social and private housing units as opposed to constructing separate blocks for each type of resident needs careful consideration)


The Public Domain and other Considerations 

Broadening the regeneration footprint? 

If it were possible to extend the footprint of the development to include the Cemetery then the living could get more of the benefits currently only enjoyed by the dead. 

With proper permissions graves tended by living relatives could be tastefully re-sited perhaps in a modern catacomb. Then considerably more green space could be available as well as better access to our famous Hog’s mill river. One Norbiton did propose this three years ago and some local citizens were asked what they thought of the idea. None objected, however clearly all faith groups should be involved before this could be implemented and provision made for continuing funeral services. It may be premature to suggest such a potentially provocative idea, but allowance should be made for this to happen in the future

Flexibility of unit size 

Planning social housing requires flexibility with regards to the numbers of units and their physical. Certainly gentrification and massive overcrowding must be avoided. By constructing adjoining units in a way that will facilitate their merging, much like Hotel bedrooms, this problem can be addressed. However, soundproofing is a very important issue that must not be compromised. If social housing is to be constructed alongside owner-occupied it is essential that it is not externally identifiable as such. 

Transport & Parking 

If 2000+ households are to live in the new development, providing car parking space let alone garages for all will be impossible. One suggestion could be to provide no spaces for any one on site but instead instituting a system of electrical vehicles for communal use around the estate that could also be used be by residents access off-site parking. 

Shared public spaces and Halls 

Each spiral cul-de-sac neighborhood would surround its own green area and share some amenities with other local neighbourhoods. Situated by a central shared garden would be a larger meeting place accommodating sports, halls, performance spaces, crèches etc. 

Garden areas and front porches. 

          Each spiral cul-de-sac neighborhood would surround its own green area and share some amenities with other local neighbourhoods. Situated by a central shared garden would be a larger meeting place accommodating sports, halls, performance spaces, crèches etc.        

Garden areas and front porches.

Expert input will obviously be sought in designing the public domain, but it would be nice if each unit could in addition had their own small garden area or balcony as well as the defensible space of a porch.  However, care must be taken to avoid carrying the concept of exclusive neighbourhoods too far.  The worst scenario being that rival gangs might arise; see the interesting work of Prof. Tajfel on the ease with which people to form social groups. (Ideally, every effort should be made to get both newcomers and re-housed former CRE residents to develop a joint pride in the new community via the preservation of existing events like the annual Fun Day etc. as well as the newer social apps such as “Nextdoor”)

Other shared facilities 

Internet, TV and Monitoring facility for disabled and elderly linked to an experimental on-line voting facilities to assist community decision-making. 


1. “Analyzing the two electoral rolls of 2014 and 2017 just for Madingley tower where we work, I found that there was a 23% change in the registered electorate including 3 deaths” M D’Souza 2018. 

2.“ Cul-de-sacs may not be quite as popular as they once were but people lucky enough to live on one are the happiest people in Britain, a survey has revealed. 

Neighbors on the dead-end streets are more likely to know each-other’s names, enjoy cups of coffee together and lend tools when compared to any other community. 

The good life found on a cul-de-sac, long considered the epitome of middle class suburban Britain, is so sought after by homebuyers that people will pay up to 20 per cent more just to secure a property, experts say.” 

Daily Mail 2013 

3. Incentives and motivations for Neighbourliness 

4. Alexandra Road Estate- Neave Brown 

A Quick Update

Again apologies for the long silence. At the AGM on the 21st Feb the Chair Mike D’Souza and Vice Chair and Secretary Jill Preston were unanimously re-elected and the Board reappointed. Our Treasurer reported that our finances for 2017/8 were healthy.

The Chair gave our annual awards for service to the Community to Liz Bishop and Tom Bremner.

Quick Update

Again apologies for the long silence. At the AGM on the 21st Feb the Board Chair Mike D’Souza and Vice Chair and Secretary Jill Preston were unanimously re-elected. Our Treasurer reported that the finances for last year were healthy.

The Chair gave our annual awards for service to the Community to Liz Bishop and Tom Bremner.

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Quiz Night


Charity Quiz Night

  • Date: 4th Mar 2014
  • Location: Guildhall
  • Time: 19:00 - 22:30
  • Cost: £6
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 [email protected]