News

11 May 2022
Written By hncp

Channing & HNCP

Channing was co-founded in 1885 as a school where the daughters of Unitarian ministers could obtain a ‘first-class education.’ It is this Unitarian foundation that drives us to reach beyond the school gates to build a local network of partnerships, which will help to create a positive social and educational impact on the local community and our school.

Our growing partnership with HNCP and Brookfield Nursery and Primary School has enabled us to work together to deliver a whole range of activities:

  • chatting with elderly guests at the HNCP lunches at the United Reform Church;
  • making videos for Under 5 activities for HNCP during lockdown;
  • problemsolving sessions organised and taught by our Year 12 students for Year 5/6 pupils at Brookfield;
  • a Science Club bringing enrichment to pupils who may not otherwise be able to afford such activities; and so much more.

Last July we ran a Summer Camp to provide pupils in the area with an opportunity to attend a camp which was both educational and fun. Plans are already underway for this Summer!

Come and visit us at our stall at the Fair in the Square on Saturday 11 June to find out more about the difference we are making together.

https://www.channing.co.uk/

18 January 2022
Written By hncp

New Funding Secured

We’re delighted to announce John Lyons Charity has agreed to unlock £90,000 in new funding over three years to support our team. Their support helps protect much-needed services for local residents.

Also, through the London Community Foundation, Peabody Housing has promised £30,000 in support of a new Under-Five Stay and Play in Harringay and Islington.

To our funders, thank you for your support to HNCP.

12 January 2022
Written By hncp

GEM Environmental Services Funds a Christmas Dinner for 100 Elderly People in Highgate Community

The 17th of December was a special day for the Highgate community. GEM – Camden Council’s main mechanical and electrical contractor – teamed up with Highgate Newtown Community Partners to put on a three-course Christmas dinner for the community.

Tables were neatly laid with Christmas treats and GEM goodie bags for each person, and each resident enjoyed a starter, followed by a main with all the trimmings and finishing with a delicious dessert. Laughter and happiness were at the forefront of the event, with live music, entertainment and raffle prizes for all to enjoy.

Natasha Sterling Resident Liaison Officer at GEM stated,
“We were so moved by new Highgate Newtown Community partner and what they are doing for the elderly residents. It was a pleasure to be part of such a fun day and seeing residents enjoying the festive season with their friends whilst having the opportunity to meet new residents within the community. Christmas can be a lonely time for some, the Christmas dinner was a remarkable highlight for the season”.

By working with Highgate Newtown Community Partners, GEM helps make a difference to the lives of older people living alone, not just during the Christmas season, but for the rest of the year too. Gathering residents of the Highgate community together for events like the Christmas Dinner helps foster a strong sense of diversity, and GEM looks forward to rolling out more inclusive events throughout 2022.

“We wanted to do our bit to make a difference and help a local charity provide good memories over the festive season to the residents. Some people may feel lonely at Christmas since Christmas is portrayed as being about families coming together and we wanted to bring the elderly together to enjoy Christmas”. Keith Harris Director

5 January 2022
Written By hncp

The Early Days

The early days of the Highgate Newtown Community Centre and the present developments.

As the demolition of the old HNCC has been completed and we look forward to a modern building replacing it, it’s interesting to look back to its early days and see how it came into existence.

The redevelopment of the Highgate Newtown area was part of a drive during the 1970s to get rid of substandard, run-down housing and replace it with modern social housing. Most of the first phase of the scheme involved replacing the small, badly-built Edwardian terraces, unlike the more substantial Victorian terraces further south such as Chester Road, Doynton, Winscombe and Balmore Streets, which were extensively rehabilitated.

The Early History
The area was under great stress, with people being rehoused from their substandard homes, squatting of empty properties, closing of local shops, demolition, dirt and noise.

Demolition and rehabilitation disturbed the rats and local resident Moya Denny persuaded the council to open a record in Highgate Library for sightings of rats so that they could be dealt with speedily.

Any unoccupied house that was due for demolition or rehabilitation would almost instantly be taken over by squatters, who came into conflict with the local residents. This had been a tightly-knit community, and they did not care to see their way of life disturbed. The squatters tended to have noisy parties late at night, and the failure to put out dustbins for collection was a source of much aggravation with refuse piling up on the pavements and in basement areas.

During the redevelopment, a staff member of one of Camden’s voluntary organisations was given an office in the space now occupied by the shops and doctor’s surgery almost opposite the library. From this base, Jane Cooper acted as a voluntary adviser to members of the local community requiring access to services, housing advice and other Concerns.

She persuaded me, in my role as one of the three local councillors for Highgate Ward, to support the Women’s Aid and Refuge service in Camden.

It became obvious that there was a need for a community centre which could coordinate services and provide space for meetings, clubs and other activities.

One rainy afternoon in April 1978, my fellow councillor John Crouch and I were shown the derelict building at the end of Bertram Street. We were amazed at its size, the enormous hall that had been a tank repair workshop, the offices, kitchen and other rooms being used as workshops for Pentonville Prison. We agreed that John Crouch should immediately get on his bike and go off to Pentonville to find out more about the use of the building. He did so and discovered that the prison authorities no longer intended to use it for workshops.

We suggested to Camden officers that it would make a good community centre, and after discussions, it was agreed that the council would repair the roof, make the building weatherproof and appoint a coordinator to set it up. With council support, we were fortunate to be able to appoint Berrell Jensen, who had considerable experience in similar enterprises.

This patient, dynamic and practical woman worked with a committee of local people and councillors to prepare activity programmes for the centre, covering sports, advice sessions, craftwork, entertainment and sessions for pensioners, mothers, and babies. Professional circus acrobats rented the hall as a practice venue. The hall was perfect for sport – football at first, with weekly training sessions for different age groups; and later for Judo. As a newly qualified class 3 football referee, I was pleased to be able to run the five-aside football sessions on Friday evenings. Parents picking up their children from nearby Brookfield School began to get involved in the centre, and other activities were developed.

Later, Berrell Jensen moved to the Hampstead Community Centre, and Nick Roxan was appointed to take her place. I served two terms as a councillor and decided not to stand for a third term. I also stood down as chair of the HNCC, leaving it in the competent hands of Nick and the local committee. Under his leadership, it went from strength to strength, developing many new activities. The building was always a source of concern as it was expensive to maintain and heat, but no decisions were made about refurbishment, and it served the neighbourhood for more than forty years.

The recent decision to demolish and rebuild the centre was taken after a review of the costs and sustainability of a refurbished building. This was found not to be a viable option, and it was decided to replace the old building with a purpose-built community centre and some Camden-sponsored housing.

There were lengthy discussions over architectural plans for the new building over several months. The Highgate Newtown Regeneration Project Construction Working Group has been set up, chaired by senior council officer Ms Cornwall-Jones, with the demolition and building contractors attending.

The group meets regularly with representatives of the local community, who are able to ask questions of those responsible for the demolition and rebuilding, and make suggestions. These include concerns about traffic management, as well as local environmental issues, such as noise, dirt, damage to local roads by heavy vehicles and dangers to pedestrians – particularly children and parents at Brookfield School and users of the Highgate Library and local shops.

These issues have been raised at meetings, and answers have been provided by the representatives of the companies involved, who have acted upon immediate concerns that could not be left to be discussed at the next meeting. Updates on progress have been
published and are available in the library. I have represented the trustees at these meetings and report back to them.

In the last few months, the architects have been working on the internal layout of the new building, so suitable spaces can be provided for the various activities and services planned for the centre. Attention to detail in this part of the project is intended to improve the quality of life of local residents and other users, along with providing a common meeting place to enhance the sense of community for all who use the centre’s services, including volunteers and professional staff.

There are still hurdles to overcome in the next eighteen months or so, but with the support of the local community, local Camden councillors and officers and the professionalism of the architects and builders, as well as the support of the trustees and Andrew’s strong leadership, we look forward to the successful completion of a much-needed facility based on a spirit of partnership and cooperation.

John Carrier
Trustee
17th August, 2021

1 January 2022
Written By hncp

Better Together

As we approach the end of January, it’s time to assess how your new year’s resolutions are going. We certainly hope you’re more conscientious about your study programmes, more efficient at work, losing excess weight, getting on better with the relatives, fitter, not arguing with the children, or whatever you’d been aiming for. It’s an ongoing thing, isn’t it?

As minister of Highgate United Reformed Church, one of the best decisions we ever made was not just to go it alone, but to find out what was happening in our local community and, where possible, work in partnership with others. In many walks of life, we mistakenly think that we’re better doing things on our own, only to discover eventually what a huge mistake this can be. What huge rewards there are for those who are prepared to work with others, because, as the well-known saying goes – we’re better together.

One organisation we work with has recently changed its name to reflect these important values – Highgate Newtown Community Centre is now Highgate Newtown Community Partnership.

We all know how important it is to reflect just how diverse and interesting our communities are, especially here in London. Partnership gives us the opportunity to work together as we look at a variety of ways for serving our community.

HNCP are working across a range of levels – embarking on the development of a new-build project which will bring people together and serve their needs, and supporting local community lunches like our Thursday lunch at Pond Square Chapel.

These community lunches (in several locations) bring people together in a friendly atmosphere and so help combat social isolation for many. And the lunches themselves also give us a chance to work with others like Channing School, who bring pupils occasionally to
provide a high-quality music programme and performance – a real treat for our diners!

All this is only possible through your kindness and generosity, so many thanks to all readers who have supported these partnerships, or who are faithfully making a contribution in other ways for the sake of our communities.

30 December 2021
Written By hncp

Support your community centre

Robert Aitken, our Chair of Trustees speaks to the Ham & High about our appeal, explaining why it is so important to raise funds. The new centre currently under construction will be a focal point for the whole community. We have the support of many generous funding partners and charitable trusts. We hope that you may be able to join with us too in building the future.

24 December 2021
Written By hncp

Festive support from Sian Berry

Read why the HNCC is such an important community resource and so worthy of support. Local Councillor and London Assembly Member Sian Berry makes a compelling case in her piece for the Ham and High.

22 December 2021
Written By hncp

Festive support from Sian Berry

Work is projected to start on the Chester Road Hostel site redevelopment in January 2022. There is an opportunity to meet the demolition contractors online on Wed 12th January 2022 from 6pm until 7pm. If you wish to join please download the letter from Camden  and follow instructions.

You may also like to be kept informed or to have a voice by joining a mailing list or the Community Working Group. Again full details about how to get involved are in the letter from Camden.

More information on wearecamden.org with additional information on how to comment on the Demolition management plan (deadline is Wednesday 19th January 2022)

29 October 2021
Written By hncp

Development Update

From our Trustee, Stephen Hodge

As many people will know Highgate Newtown Community Partners (HNCP) – of which I am Treasurer – is located in Bertram Street, NW5 (just behind Highgate Library). We have been working together with Camden Council over a number of years to bring forward exciting new plans for the redevelopment of the centre. This will include housing, a new public space and a brand-new community centre for the benefit of local residents. The council has invested over £6 million into building the new facility. This money will be raised by the council building homes for sale on the site of the old centre. During the construction period, HNCP moved out of the building on Bertram Street, and we relocated our activities (including support of older people, children under five, food parcel distribution and subsidised community lunches) to a range of locations in the Archway, Highgate and Dartmouth Park areas. At the time of writing, we have partnerships with Brookfield School in Dartmouth Park, Channing School in Highgate, the United Reformed Church, St Mary’s Dartmouth Park, St Michael’s Highgate and St Anne’s Highgate, where our temporary part-time office is located.

This change has proved beneficial as it is a popular location and has brought us closer to the people we seek to serve. Even after the new centre is completed, we expect to continue in this “distributed and partnership” mode, and we reflect this by having changed our name from Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) to Highgate Newtown Community Partners (HNCP).

Our new community centre building is expected to be ready for occupation late in 2022. We have agreed in principle with Camden Council to take a 20-year lease on the bottom three floors of the building. The council is offering discounted rent in recognition of our partnership and the council’s commitment to be supportive of HNCP and their value to the community. The picture is an architect’s visualisation of the entrance to the new centre, which will accessible from both Croftdown Road and Bertram Street.

We are raising money to create a welcoming, high-quality facility which brings people together and gives those who struggle financially opportunities they would not have elsewhere. We want people to feel valued when they are in the building, and that they deserve quality. Activities such as our laundry and hairdressers will be offered at cost price and art, pottery, cooking and exercise classes will be either free at the point of access or heavily subsidised for those on lower income. The café will serve fresh, affordable food, enabling those who eat by themselves day after day to share a meal with others. We are working closely with local hostels and schools to make sure that the new community centre building becomes an essential support service for people who find daily life challenging.

The centre will have a sports hall that’s large and adaptable enough to host a range of events such as job fairs and concerts, gym activities, table tennis and community meetings. There will also be several flexible meeting rooms, which can be used for classes or rented out to tenants who will provide benefit to the community. We intend the new centre to be open seven days a week, throughout the day and evening.

It will be clear to all who know us that the new building represents a steep change in the services that HNCP can bring to the community. Apart from the financial requirement, we will need to increase our staffing levels (recruitment will commence in the next few months) and to continue to strengthen our Board of Trustees with people who are willing to take on an active role in the direction of the charity. In the last six months, Tomi Ayodeji has joined our board and we would like to continue this strengthening further.

We expect fitting out the new building to cost up to £600,000, and this is our funding challenge. The council has made significant investment into the new centre, and it was always part of the agreement that the fit-out works would be undertaken by HNCP. We have so far accumulated over £220,000, and now we are on the lookout for funding of the balance from foundations, trusts, families and individuals (which could come with name recognition for funded items or parts of the centre).

If any readers can support us on this journey, or if you know of an organisation who can either contribute to our mission, or who may be interested in working in partnership with us, please get in touch with me, Stephen Hodge, on 0776850299 or by email to treasurer@hncc.org.uk.

Our Annual Report and Audited Accounts to 31st March 2021 were published last month and if you would like to review them and our financial position, please contact me.

24 September 2021
Written By hncp

Remarkable Lives app launch

Wednesday 26th September 2018 will see the official launch in London of the Remarkable Lives app at the Highgate Newtown Community Centre.

The App is designed to capture life histories and at the same time improve quality of life, wellbeing and care.

Taking a positive approach to challenges of an ageing population Remarkable Lives, the social impact startup and Challenge Dementia Finalist, is tackling loneliness and isolation, compounded by negative perceptions of later life, against the backdrop of fragmented families, communities and reduced connectivity between the generations.

The Remarkable Lives app builds an interactive timeline of memories for older people. But whereas traditional social networks can’t back date, and document only what’s happening in our lives in the present, Remarkable Lives is unique in chronicling people’s life stories from the beginning. And although people can enjoy using the app to record a personal memoir, its main purpose is to encourage people to help save someone else’s life story, perhaps before it’s too late. Less selfie, more selfless.

For more information contact us