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Day in the life of student George and homeless busker Kevin

Who’s been making the news round your way this week?

02 June, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Busker Kevin and his companion, Zella: ‘People are very generous’

Student George Montague handed out clothes to homeless people and buskers in Stroud Green Road on Sunday. He stopped for a five-minute chat with busker Kevin and gave him a leather belt and a few extra large T-shirts to fit Kevin’s 6ft 4inch frame. “I try to engage with the homeless community on a daily basis,” says George.

George Montague on his vist to see homeless Kevin

Kevin, who is starting dialysis treatment next week because of failing kidneys, said he liked sitting on Stroud Green Road opposite the legendary Rowan’s Tenpin Bowl. He has a docile black and white shepherd dog Zella who keeps him company. “You get a lot of things when you’re sat down, I mean food and dog food,” he says. “I even got my guitar which I think is worth thousands of pounds. People are very generous.” According to home­less­ness charity Crisis, the number of people on the streets increased by 16 per cent between 2015 and 2016. Crisis also run a lively cafe and a charity shop in Finsbury Park which is at 19 Stroud Green Road.

Alan and Ahmed’s garden delights

Alan and Farooqui hosting their open garden day

Devoted gardeners Alan Swann and Ahmed Farooqui, opened their garden in Ashley Road to strangers in a bid to raise money for charity last weekend. The couple have an enviable oasis with more than 50 varieties of Japanese maple trees and some 60 varieties of ferns. The koi pond at the bottom of the garden proved a huge hit with children as did the miniature zen garden made up of small white pebbles swirled into a ripple pattern. When deciding on what to plant, the couple drew inspiration from their various walks around the world. To those out walking in north London, they gave out cups of tea to be enjoyed in lush surroundings not often seen in Crouch Hill.

“This time of year I spend 20 to 30 hours a week in the garden, two to three months running up to the open garden,” said Alan. “When we have people coming round to see the gardens, we stop working and actually enjoy it.”

The gardens were opened as part of the National Garden Scheme which sees 3,700 private spaces opened to the public. People pay a small entry fee which goes to charities including Hospice UK and  Parkinsons UK. Alan estimates his open garden raised £2,000 last year. The pair will open their house again on the second and third weekend of June for an art exhibition by those who feel affected by Brexit.

Seven artists, including Ahmed, will display their works throughout the house and garden. One piece will see a sculpture of a boy wearing Union Jack swimming trunks jumping off a diving board from the second floor window. More information about the exhibition at: www.space36.org.uk

Canalside land transformation

Lisa Tang at the wildlife haven on the Regent’s Canal

Around seven volunteers have transformed a 500-metre stretch of Regent’s Canal-side land from waste patch to butterfly haven. The land from York Way to Islington Tunnel was adopted by community organiser Lisa Tang in 2016. She recruited volunteers to cultivate the land which now grows herbs and vegetables that are distributed to local residents. These plants attract bees and are home to a variety of insects not often seen near central London.

“These are now great places to relax and escape the city,”  Lisa says. She runs Cally Arts, an organisation which aims to improve the canal system in Islington through art works and community projects. Her next project will see one stretch of canal-side land turned into an outdoor gym but they also work with local school children who get to come up with designs.

The canal adoption scheme was started by the Canal and River Trust to promote the history and importance of canal systems across Britain. Community groups can adopt a stretch of the canal and make positive changes to it which will benefit the local area. Only eight stretches of London’s canals have been adopted so far compared to Birmingham’s 22 adoptions.

If you’re a community group looking to turn uninteresting to beautiful, go to: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer/adopt-a-canal

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