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How one little tree was worth rescuing

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

29 November, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Helena McKeown and Yssy with the rescued sapling

STREET trees are an important part of any high street and two women battled to save the life of one little tree on Monday night. After a small sapling fell victim to a suspected hit and run, Helena McKeown and Yssy were seen trying to replant the tree in front of Nags Head market.

“It’s awful what happened,” says Helena. “I was so happy when these trees came last year. The fact that somebody has knocked it over is so sad. But it needs to be fixed properly. I’ll call the council in the morning.”

Yssy was first on the scene. “I was trying to fix it on my own and then Helena came over to help me,” she says.

The women are strangers to each other – both living off Seven Sisters Road – but were united through their love of trees.

The council manages around 35,000 trees – one horse chestnut in Highbury Fields was taken from a cutting of a tree seen out of Anne Frank’s window which she wrote lovingly about in her famous diary.

Charity work that changes lives

Naomi Smith

A VOLUNTEER for Bridging the Gap Islington was so moved by her experience helping a person at risk of homelessness that she decided to change career. Naomi Smith spent 16 weeks mentoring a vulnerable person in the borough for the charity which trains people how to mentor at-risk adults.

“I was working in events at an office job,” Naomi says. “I wanted to do something in my week which was giving back something meaningful and I was drawn to Bridging the Gap – you can schedule the sessions to fit around your working life.”

Her mentoring had a pro­found effect on her, she says. “It taught me that all preconceptions that you might have about homeless people are wrong. The person I was mentoring had amazing stories, was incredibly intelligent. The experience taught me how complex immigration issues can be.”

Naomi has now shifted career from events to outreach work and works full time for the York Road Project in Woking. Robin Latimer, co-ordinator of Bridging the Gap Islington says: “Our mentors provide a regular and consistent relation­ship which is important for people who may lack confidence. They also provide practical help with filling in forms, visiting offices and finding out about the help that is available.

“The wonderful caring volunteers at the heart of our service are a constant inspiration and encouragement. We can never thank them enough for giving their free time to listen to and help people in need. Training our volunteers and providing professional super­visors to support them costs money.

“That is why we are planning a winter fundraising campaign to ‘Help someone at risk of sleeping rough’,” Robin adds. To find out more go to:

Honours for nature reserve volunteers

Ecology Centre staff and volunteers with the Mayor, Cllr David Poyser, and Cllr Claudia Webbe, right: Chris Scott, centre with specs; Pam Johnson, next to the Mayor; Ceila Toynbee, next to Cllr Webbe; Sylvia Chambers, next to Celia, in the green T-shirt. And also in the front row is Hasan Al-Islam – the event also marked Hasan’s last day at the centre, as he completed his two-year apprenticeship

THE borough’s longest-serving volunteers who fight to preserve and maintain Islington’s three nature reserves were honoured last Thursday at an awards ceremony.

Chris Scott, 73, has spent 12 years sprucing up Gillespie Park and was honoured for her work. She said: “I enjoy volunteering and it’s giving something back to the ­community. My friend had a party at the ecology centre in the park and when we were looking at the place I thought I would like to volunteer there.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for environment and transport, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the volunteers who have made such a valuable contribution to keeping our nature reserves thriving and healthy over many years. The passion and dedication of people like Chris, Sylvia, Pam and Celia is truly inspiring – putting their green fingers to use for the benefit of the whole borough.”

Sylvia Chambers, Pam Johnson and Celia Toynbee have all been volunteering in the parks for 10 years. Cllr Webbe added: “It was also a great chance to congratulate all the staff and volunteers on helping Islington Gardeners to win the Silver Gilt award at this year’s London In Bloom competition, and Gillespie Park on taking a Gold Award for Best Conservation Area.”


Turning the lens on alienation, Our Neighbours column, November 23: Mary Lynne Ellis did not “take up art and photography in her spare time” as we stated. She has a BA in Art and Design and is qualified both as an art therapist and a psychotherapist. She also has an MA in Modern European Philosophy. In her exhibition Coercion, Alienation, Resistance, she explores structures of coercion and profound states of alienation generated by the current political climate in the UK and internationally. The exhibition runs at the Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, N7, until January 12. Mon-Fri 9am to 10pm, and Sat and Sun 9am to 5pm.


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