Network Meeting -Tuesday 31st January 2023- on Zoom
“A Cleaner, Healthier, Greener Redbridge?”
RFF was delighted to welcome Laki Begum, Neighbourhood Education and Engagement Officer, Hitesh Taylor, Strategy & Partnership Officer, Housing Needs Service and Yusuf Patel, Community Engagement Officer, to our Jan 2023 Network Zoom meeting, “A Cleaner, Healthier, Greener Redbridge?”.
The meeting was chaired by Phil Butcher, Trustee of Redbridge Faith Forum and 30 plus people attended.
Laki Bequm, gave a very interesting and informative Powerpoint Presentation on some of the projects and activities the Neighbourhood Streets Team ha been working on to support a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier Redbridge
She explained The Neighbourhood Streets Team is part of Redbridge Council and is divided into 4 teams. (Street Cleansing, Green Services, Education & Engagement, Environmental Crime Enforcement)
Laki’s team, The Education and Engagement Officers, has 5 members of staff who work with residents, schools, businesses and faith groups to engage and run community projects. Their main aim is to build A Cleaner, Greener, Safer and Healthier Redbridge.
- 50 % of the teams’ work is with schools; at present they are working with 12 schools planting over 119 trees around the borough and teaching young people about planet stewardship and how our actions impact the community.
- They run Community Litter Picking Hubs for communities who would like to take part. They can lend equipment and take away the collected rubbish. Litter picking acts as a deterrent and sends a message to those around that littering will not be tolerated in Redbridge.
- There are Community Gardening Projects which include looking after large planters to small railing planters. You can also adopt a tree on your road and the team will provide you with seeds to plant around the tree. Laki shared photos of a planter in Seven Kings that St Cedd ‘s Church (Phil) has adopted. Similarly Laki said that if there is a piece of derelict land in your area that you would like to adopt and transform into a community garden space she’s happy to help you create a community garden.
- The Team run the Play Streets Scheme where they facilitate closing your road once a month for 2 hours to enable the neighbours to get to know each other by sharing cup of tea and a chat and for children to play safely together thus building stronger communities. Again, contact Laki if you would like to do this in your road.
- They have a Cloth Nappy Scheme, to encourage families who have children in nappies to swap disposable nappies to Cloth nappies, which are washable, reusable, cost effective and save on waste. A child on average from birth to 2 ½ years of age uses around 2,000 to 3,000 nappies!
- They run a Waste Reduction Project and have partnered up with Transition Ilford (TTI). Repair Cafés are held in Redbridge Central Library, Ilford on alternate Saturdays, 2pm-3.45pm, where you can bring in small electrical items to be repaired instead of disposing of them.
- They also have a School Uniform Bank, where a 180 litre bin is given to a school so parents can donate clean unwanted uniform helping families who can’t afford a new uniform. This initiative is useful as charity shops do not take school uniforms with badges. If a faith community would like to take part in the Uniform Bank, please contact Laki.
- The Our Streets Team are holding a ‘Redbridge Climate Forum’ on 28th February 2023, 6-9pm in Redbridge Town hall, Ilford. The Cabinet member for the Environment and Civic Pride, Cllr Jo Blackman will update progress made on LBR climate Action Plan. There will also be a ‘Market Place’ where local groups and faith groups can showcase their activities, network and find out what others are doing to make a positive change to our carbon footprint in Redbridge. All faith communities and their congregations are encouraged to take part in the ‘Redbridge Climate Forum’.
Laki then went on to the much-awaited topic of ‘Love Food Hate Waste’. She shared some eye-opening statics when it came to Redbridge.
- UK householders throw away £12.5 billion worth of good food and drink every year and Redbridge is the 5th highest waste producing authority in the country!
- In Redbridge, food waste is one third of what we put in our dustbin, which is a frightening statistic as, when it goes on to our landfills, it generates methane gas, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming.
- Reducing food waste for a family of 2 adults and 2 children can save you over £70 a month! Laki’s team goes out to communities, distributing leaflets and explaining what can be done to reduce food waste.
Here are 6 useful tips:
- Plan ahead- check what’s in your cupboard, fridge or freezer before going shopping, take a photo if it helps, plan meals, make a shopping list, only buy what you need and will use.
- Understand dates on food items. USE BY means don’t consume any food or drink past this date; BEST BEFORE defines quality not safety; SELL BY and DISPLAY UNTIL are just guides for the shop.
- Store food correctly – know what goes in fridge, freezer or store cupboard; storing food properly can give your food extra life. The ideal fridge temperature is between 0-5 °C. You can freeze most food such as bread, milk, meat, cooked food and even eggs!
- Proper portions – only cook what you will eat, freezing or sharing the rest; use handy measuring tools for accuracy.
- Love Leftovers – freeze or share any of your leftover food; share recipes with your family and friends; explore LFHW recipe ideas at lovefoodhatewaste.com
- Compost your scraps – 1/3 of the food we throw in the bin can be composted and used as compost for your garden. Redbridge offer compost bins at subsidise prices. Laki’s team hold composting workshops and they will come to your faith community to teach you how to compost properly.
Laki’s Team also have a Love Food Hate Waste Campaign where they share recipes and resources. At the stalls they give out freezer clips, food storage calendars, portion control items, shopping lists you can stick on your fridge, meal planners, & recipe cards. They have funding to run 3 ‘Love Food Hate Waste Workshops’ where a trained chef will do a 2-hour workshop for 12 participants at a time who will plan and cook a vegetarian budget friendly meal. The aim of these workshops is to relay information to others and to show in a practical way that the small changes that individuals make can lead to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyle. Laki would like to offer these free Workshops to Faith communities and/or Warm Centres who have premises suitable to host the Workshops. All they need is a space, big enough for 12 participants and a chef, with a sink, and access to drinking water, and electricity. The chef will bring 12 portable electric 1 ring hobs, and Laki’s team will provide everything else. The dates for the 3 LFHW workshops are 28 Feb, 2nd March and 9th March 2023 (12-2pm). Please contact Laki if you would like to host a workshop.
The team also works with schools and Redbridge Institute (Esol learners) to give them basic tips on food waste and ways to save money and be healthier. They have started ‘Love Food Hate Food’ basic workshops where they give tips on basic shopping, cooking, how to use leftovers, how to batch cook etc. They partner with community groups and at present are doing a cookery workshop for the Bengali community, reducing diabetes, encouraging healthy eating and cooking. If other communities are interested in being involved in a workshop Laki would like them to reach out to her and her team and they will be happy to put something in place.
The Our Streets Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ourstreetsredbridge
has lots of tips and recipes.
Phil thanked Laki for her very informative presentation and welcomed our second speaker Hitesh Tailor, Strategy & Partnerships Officer, Housing Needs Service and Yusuf Patel, Community and Engagement officer.
Hitesh gave a brief background to his role and explained that Redbridge Council is currently undertaking a Listening Exercise to support the 2023-2028 development of the LBR Housing Strategy which expired in 2022. The Listening Exercise is live until 13 March 2023. It can be found at https://engage.redbridge.gov.uk/housing-strategy
There are two surveys, one for organisations and one for individuals and it’s all online as this helps to collate information quickly.
There have already been wide-ranging Consultations through Redbridge Life; in newsletters to housing tenants and leaseholders; to Landlords Housing developments partners; a press release by Cllr Solanki; ongoing social media; phone texts and emails to council tenants and council leaseholders to get some of their views. The Private Rented Sector Team have also sent out to all their mailing lists. Hitesh and team are holding similar events with other groups and having drop-in sessions at Ilford, Wanstead and Fullwell Cross Libraries where they will have access to computers if people would like to compete the survey there (allow 20 minutes).
Hitesh handed over to Yusuf Patel, Community Engagement Officer for some feedback and responding. Yusef emphasised the importance of hearing the feedback of under represented groups, explaining it is crucial to reflect the diversity of the Borough and the seldom heard voices as this enables the council to identify areas of difference of views and inequality. He mentioned Redbridge is the 3rd diverse borough but not everyone responds to consultations and they often only hear from people from Wanstead and Woodford . Yusuf is working on an Inequality Strategy and feels some of the findings will help with that. People’s views are really important and he asked the faith communities to encourage their congregations to complete the survey. This will feed into an external Inequalities Strategy so that council policies can serve all the residents.
Hitesh took over from Yusuf and explained that there are 4 proposed objectives for the Housing Strategy:-
- Increasing the Supply of Housing – 9% of Redbridge housing stock is social housing and that is the lowest in London. The intention is to build more social and more affordable housing.
- Housing & Homelessness- 7,000 people are on a waiting list at present; there is an 8 year wait for a two-bedroom house, and a 19 year wait for a 4 bedroom house; 2800 families are in temporary accommodation. The intention is to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping through an integrated focus on tackling root causes involving prevention, intervention, and personal responsibility.
- Quality of Homes – The Council will use all its powers to improve the quality of all tenures and build alliances to give both tenants and landlords a fair deal and ensure that homes are well maintained and safe to live in. They also want to reduce the carbon footprint to combat climate change (40% of emissions are from our homes).
- Putting Residents First – The Council will create a borough where our diverse communities are involved in shaping ecisions which affect them or their neighbourhood. This is about engagement and hearing from the seldom heard voices.
As of 31st of January they have received 358 responses to the survey, which they are very pleased with but would obviously like more responses. Hitesh said it compared favourably to Newham who only received 45 responses to their survey two years ago during Covid!
The results so far show that most people agree with the 4 objectives with just over half of the responses from women. When it came to ethnicity 43% were White, 28% Asian, 14% Black, 8% mixed heritage, and 7% other. Under the religious category 41% said they were Christian, 27% Muslim, 18% no religion, 5% Hindu, 3% Jewish, 2% Sikh and 4% other.
Hitesh is encouraging all faith communities and their congregations to complete the survey. It will take around 20 minutes to complete the whole survey but they are quite happy for people to just answer the 4 main objectives below, if they can’t do all of it. The objectives and questions are:-
INCREASING THE SUPPLY OF HOUSING
- When considering the need for affordable housing in new housing developments which of these types of affordable housing types do you feel the housing service should prioritise?
- Low cost rented homes
- Affordable home ownership
- In building new homes, should the Council prioritise building larger family
sized homes (which is needed but reduces the number of overall homes it
HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS
- Is the current process to join the housing register fair and transparent?
- What more could the Council do to prevent homelessness occurring or support anyone at risk of homelessness occurring?
QUALITY OF HOMES
- What do you feel most affects the quality of the home you live in?
- What benefits do you see as most important in improving the environmental performance of your property?
PUTTING RESIDENTS FIRST
- Are you satisfied with the housing services you get from your landlord?
- Are there any services you think the Council or your landlord can provide to help you manage the cost-of-living crisis?
- What are the barriers to effective resident engagement for you?
Click here to view Housing Strategy Listening Exercise -presentation
Phil thanked Hitesh and Yusuf and asked everyone to complete the survey.