• Norwood Forum

2022/23 Community Grants Scheme

The recipient projects of the Norwood Forum's 2022/23 Community Grant Scheme are now either finished or coming to an end, and on this page we celebrate their fantastic achievements.
The purpose of this grant is to enhance the wellbeing of people who live, work or study in our community - West Dulwich, St Martins, Knights Hill and Gipsy Hill wards.
We received 17 applications and made 11 awards, one of which subsequently had to withdraw.

For more background on this annual funding scheme, please follow this link

Scroll down to read all about:
The Stitch
Stories and Songs Singing Project
Holderness Way Communal Gardens Revival 
Carnac Street Community Garden
Friends of Norwood Park Community Garden
Girls Mindset Confidence and Self-Esteem Club (GMCSE)
Deronda Estate Gardening Club
Inclusive Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair
SLBI Connects (South London Botanical Institute): A Bzz Garage Gravel Garden with Open Orchard

Reports to follow on:
Effra Pottery at The Portico

The Stitch
The Stitch is a sewing group, established nearly a decade ago, through a ground breaking project called The Open Works run in 2014/15 - read all about this here. The Stitch “is as much about the chatting as the sewing”, says group member Carla. With a core group of eight members, they meet weekly to sew quilts and crafts and make alterations to clothes. And eat cake.
They are also absolutely determined to contribute to the wider voluntary sector in West Norwood. They would like to support other groups with their sewing needs or to join shared gatherings.
Having negotiated free space at West Norwood Health & Leisure Centre, with their Norwood Forum small grant, The Stitch has spent most of their funds on buying materials.

Want to find out more?
The Stitch is a regular meet up of people who want to knit, sew, tailor, upholster and craft together. A chance to share and learn skills, swap tips and get inspiration for your next creation. Bring your projects, learn the basics, improve your techniques and enjoy stitching in the company of others.
They meet each Saturday 11am – 2pm at their new base, the West Norwood Health & Leisure Centre community room (just inside the main entrance doors on the right).
The Stitch are always looking for new members, older and younger people, and ‘blokes are welcome’. If you are a longstanding or beginner sewer, you would receive a warm welcome at The Stitch.
Get in touch with The Stitch by email: thestitchwestnorwood@gmail.com
And find out more on their website: thestitch.co.uk and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thestitchwestnorwood


Stories and Songs Singing Project
It lifts you up and inspires you.” Pat has been a member of the Rose Café Community Group since last September. Organised by Kemi Browne of Home Instead at the West Norwood Old Library, the café recently hosted singing sessions run by Melissa James as part of her Stories and Songs initiative. With a small grant from the Norwood Forum, Melissa helped the members find their singing voices in three special sessions.
The Rose Café is a well-attended group of people aged 60 and above, many from an African or Asian heritage, and some with early stages of dementia or other mental health conditions. Through the singing sessions, Melissa was able to create a safe space for the members to express themselves and recapture memories.

Listen, read and watch some feedback from members of the Rose Cafe:
Guan Pin Jim
Alfred has been coming to this community group since January 2021 and he mostly comes every week. He enjoys the singing but says there is “room for improvement”. When asked to expand on what he means by this he suggested that, in time, perhaps there could be a “more regular singing group.”
Michael Major
How long have you been coming to the group?
I have been coming [to the group for] about 5 weeks, I think this is my fifth session. How did you hear about this Home Instead group?
Earlier on on a Thursday morning, I go to a gym class in the health centre and one of the people who go there mentioned that I might like to come to this session and I enjoy it very much. I like the conviviality. I like the friendliness.
Do you normally enjoy singing?
Only since I’ve had dementia. I never used to sing before, I used to think I had a terrible voice whereas now, I enjoy singing.
Do you find there is a difference between how you feel before singing and afterwards?
Yes, there is a feeling of being uplifted for my wellbeing.
Dolly Gomez
How long have you been coming?
I only came last week for the first time.
And how did you find the singing?
Oh it was good! I’ve never had anyone teach me to sing.
Pat McClaren 
How long have you been coming?
I’ve been coming here since last September when I was introduced to someone else who goes to an exercise class.
Do you normally sing?
I sing when I’m in church. I’ve never been in a choir or anything. I just sing because I like singing.
How did you find singing today?
It lifts you up. It inspires you. It gives you a boost for you to realise there is a Higher Being. There is God. The spiritual songs lift you up.

What to find out more?
Find out more about the Rose Cafe here: www.norwoodforum.org/news/03-dec-21/rose-cafe-over-65s-and-their-carers
The Rose Café would love to be able to have a regular singing group. If anyone could support the Stories and Songs initiative, please contact Melissa, here are all the ways:
Website: melissa-james.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/melissajamesuk/
Twitter: twitter.com/MelissaJamesUK
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaJamesUK

Melissa is also in the early stages of planning a large-scale Big Sing concert to take place in London in 2024 as part of her Big Sing and Mental Health project, SING4SANE. To gain some understanding of this initiative, watch the video below, which sees all sale proceeds go directly to the mental health charity SANE.
For further information on the project, to learn how you can participate in the planned event, or to connect with Melissa about her work, please visit her website melissa-james.com

Holderness Way Communal Gardens Revival 
"It's not really about the veg," Dylan says. "It's about the socialising, about neighbours talking to each other." Since Covid, Dylan Clancy has been transforming a long-neglected, overgrown patch of land in the Holderness Estate into a community garden. With a small grant from the Norwood Forum, he has rejuvenated some old raised beds, bought tools, seeds and compost, and has ordered some hand-made benches. 
Already there is a group of about 10 people helping out, including three small children. It is a tranquil place in a busy estate, and Dylan hopes more of his neighbours will hear about it and come and help in the garden, or just come and sit and enjoy a patch of nature. When his green beans, peppers and salad veg are grown, "it'll be a shared harvest", he says.
If anyone can help fix the shed, or donate one they no longer need, he'd be hugely grateful. 
Want to find out more?
Keep uptodate on whats happening at the Community Gardens in the following ways:
Website: www.greener-london.co.uk/our-work
Facebook: @GreenerLondonProject
Instagram: @GreenerLondonProject

Currently the raised beds are home to:
Broad Bean 'Bunyards Exhibition', Corn 'Fiesta & Early King', Cauliflower 'All Year Round', Cucumber 'Louisa', Dwarf French Bean 'Safari', French Climbing Bean 'Cobra', 6 varieties' of Tomato, Sweet Peppers, 2 varieties' Carrots, Beetroot, Radish, Lettuce and 3 varieties' of squash to be planted out mid july.
Alongside the thriving vegetable plots we have places bug hotels & a compost bin to allow somewhere for beneficial bugs and microorganisms to thrive.
1000 Lacewing larvae were released on 27 June to boost the number of lacewing in the area to help naturally combat aphid infestations and to help boost the natural biodiversity.

Watch the video of seed planting here - and see the photo of the shed that needs fixing/replacing below.
Get in touch with Dylan here:  info@greener-london.co.uk

Carnac Street Community Garden
Flowers, herbs and plants have taken the place of fly tipping, with the creation of the Carnac Street Community Garden. 
Local resident Willem set up the garden with support from Lambeth Council in December 2020. He has transformed a neglected corner into a beautiful green space with beds of plants and flowers and wooden seating. It has become an open meeting space for neighbours, there is colour throughout the year and no fly tipping anymore. 
“The Community Garden has truly regenerated and improved where we live. Everyone loves it and the children at the local school adore the sunflowers when they come out,” he says. The garden helps the environment and has become a place for pollinators and birds to frequent, something not seen before.
Willem and a few of his neighbours maintain the garden and are keen to add one more bed in an empty space. It costs about £600 a year to maintain, and Willem used the Norwood Forum small grant to pay for compost and bark.

Want to find out more?
The Community Garden is managed by a group of residents of Carnac Street working to improve their neighbourhood by creating and providing a community garden.
If you would like to see wonderful photos of the garden across the year, or get in touch with Willem to help out, check out Carnac Street Community Garden on Facebook: www.facebook.com/carnacstreetcommunitygarden

Friends of Norwood Park Community Garden
As spring arrives, the Friends of Norwood Park are bringing their garden alive.
They have used their Norwood Forum small grant to revive the garden in the park for the 11 households who each have a small plot – local residents most of whom have no gardens of their own and want to grow veg.
The garden brings together a diverse group of neighbours, including young mums, single people, older people, people with disabilities, south Americans, Portuguese and one couple who've lived in the area for over 50 years. The garden builds connections, says one of the Friends and gardeners, Katie. “When you’re working in the garden, it’s back to how it used to be, people talking to each other.”

Want to find out more?
There is a waiting-list for garden plots and the Friends are hoping to expand to an adjoining space to put in seating and plant herbs for everyone to pick.
They would love to attract new Friends and members (who pay a tiny subscription of £5 a year) and are particularly keen to find a volunteer who is social media savvy.
If you would like to donate or get involved, you can get in touch via email: friendsofnorwoodpark@aol.com.
Find them on Instagram for pictures of the garden: www.instagram.com/friendsofnorwoodpark/

Girls Mindset Confidence and Self-Esteem Club (GMCSE)
‘Hey Confident Child’ is the signature poem of a group of 14 girls at the GMCSE Club. “Be what you can be, do what you can do, learn what you can learn, and tomorrow your nation will be what you want it to be.”
The GMCSE is a weekly gathering for a diverse group of 7-13-year-old girls at the Emmanuel Youth Centre on Clive Road. Through videos and discussions, art, role-play, singing and dancing, the girls explore what it means to be confident in themselves. Club Coordinator Nadeen says that it’s all about self-esteem and how we grow it. She has seen the girls grow in confidence, and as a result do better at school and at home.
At the club’s talent night, Delia, one of the mums, said the GMCSE club was “safe and bubbly and full of warm people”.
Having started out in Nadeen’s front room, the club has quickly grown from 5 to 14 members. One of the girls, Adama, who sang a solo at the talent night, said that “you get to do lots of activities and it’s inclusive”.

Want to find out more?
Nadeen, with the support of the Emmanuel Church, is determined to continue the club, and would welcome new volunteers and funding – to enable her to bring in outside speakers and trainers or take the girls on trips. She has used the Norwood Forum small grant to fund the talent show, books, games and snacks, as well as ‘confidence stars’ which encourage the girls to think positively about themselves. Get in touch with Nadeen by email: mathlink2001@hotmail.com 

Deronda Estate Gardening Club
George ‘reclaims’ trees.
He is the Chair of the Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) of the Deronda Estate in Tulse Hill and is working hard with fellow members to make the estate a better, greener place to live. Over several years, he has moved trees from gardens where they are no longer wanted and planted them across the estate to add shade and greenery.
With the Norwood Forum community small grant, George has planted a Gingko Biloba tree (commonly known as a maidenhair), a tree which has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. “It is a good street tree,” George says. “Hardy, drought-resistant and with good biodiversity benefits, it supports many different insects.”

Want to find out more?
The TRA has worked closely with Lambeth Council to support the planting of eight new street trees on the estate. George says there are always ideas for new planting projects and plenty of flowerbeds on the estate ready for attention. If you can support his work in any way, please contact him via derondatra@gmail.com

Inclusive Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair
In December 2022, Norwood Forum were delighted to attend to one our community small grant recipients projects in action - the inclusive Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair run by Neurodiversity Learning CIC in collaboration with All 4 Autism and Autism Thrive Services. More than 30 people enjoyed an evening of card and hand made gift making, a raffle, Christmas music, hot drinks and mince pies - and lots of glitter! All run in a safe and inclusive space for everyone.

Want to know more?
Please get in touch with Navedia Young at Neurodiversity Learning CIC: info@neurodiversitylearning.co.uk
Website: neurodiversitylearning.co.uk/ 

SLBI Connects (South London Botanical Institute): A Bzz Garage Gravel Garden with Open Orchard
Focusing on Aim 1 of the funding (building social connections between different groups), The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) has worked for the first time with local organisation Open Orchard, a group based in West Norwood that connects communities through gardening and planting sessions.

The West Norwood Bzz Garage is a community growing scheme managed by Open Orchard where they create bee-friendly habitats and food growing spaces along the high street. Part of this garden was a wildflower meadow that suffered badly throughout 2022’s long, dry summer that had record-breaking high temperatures and a hosepipe ban. Open Orchard decided to try something different in response to this (and given the predictions of more hot summers to come, due to climate change) and approached the SLBI for advice and guidance. We thought this was the perfect opportunity for us to work with a new organisation and use our Community Grant.

We decided that we would work on a gravel garden together and approached Beth Chatto Gardens (a drought-tolerant garden in Essex) and RHS Wisley Gardens for advice.  A gravel garden is a low maintenance, drought-tolerant garden that can tolerate high temperatures with very little watering. It lends itself to Mediterranean-style, drought-tolerant planting which is also ideal for wildlife (providing nectar and pollen for visiting pollinators). We wanted to create a model garden for the community as an example of the type of gardening and planting you can do as our summers become hotter and drier. It would also be less work for the Bzz Garage volunteers to maintain, use less valuable water over the summer and contain pollinator friendly plants that will hopefully last a number of years and not perish next summer.

Feedback from Open Orchard volunteer Saoirse Clohessy, “We’re very fortunate that the Bzz Garden is a lovely sun trap, but the heatwave proved too much for our attempted wildflower bed. The amount of water needed didn’t sit well with us, so we decided to transform the area into a drought-resilient gravel garden, hoping to inspire others to do the same. SLBI were the first organisation that came to mind to help with plant knowledge and potentially assist with the cost, and we were thrilled with the advice and financial support the project received. Because of the fund, we could afford a variety of plants specifically designed for the process we were using, and we’re looking forward to seeing the garden in its full glory in the summer. We plan to use it as an education piece in the form of a sign that will direct to a dedicated web page, as well as some guided tours when the plants have established. We all have to do our bit as the climate changes, and we hope this gravel garden inspires others to choose sustainable options as well.”

Want to find out more?
This has been a multi-organisation project involving the SLBI, Open Orchard, Norwood Forum (grant money paid for the plans), S2S BID (who donated the gravel) and The Portico who very kindly agreed to take delivery of the gravel until it was needed. We have learnt from each other and enjoyed working on this project immensely, building a lasting relationship which I hope we will continue going forward. See the weblinks below where you will find all their various social media contacts:
SLBI: www.slbi.org.uk/
Open Orchard: openorchard.weebly.com/
Station to Station BID: stationtostation.london/
The Portico: www.theportico.uk/