Finchley Community Magazine September/October Issue 3

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o mmunity C F I N C H L E Y






Back to school Embracing our new normal



editors letter

H Community FI N C H L E Y





CREATIVE EDITOR Nicola Harrison SUB-EDITOR Diane Langleben


DESIGNER Richard Cooke PRINTER JG Bryson of East Finchley

Special thanks to: My Rich for being totally and unwaveringly awesome in his support and creativity My wonderfully kind volunteer sub-editor Diane My fabulous friend and business coach Zuzana My Dad for knowing I would love creating this My Mum for just always believing in me My Rosa for inspiring me Marika and Jon for kindly sharing their expertise

ello friends!

Welcome to the third issue of Finchley Community Magazine. We did it, we are in print! This magazine was destiny calling to me. Rich and I have the perfect mixture of design expertise in publishing. I kept meeting the right people at the right time who helped and supported me getting started. I had at the back of my mind, a daydream, that I would love to have my magazine in the café at Stephens House — and proudly I can say that as you read this, it has happened — pop in and grab your free copy! September is about embracing and accepting that change is on the way as we head towards the autumn months. We have a wonderful array of inspiring articles by our fabulous contributors who share their knowledge and wisdom. I do hope you find a golden nugget in these pages to support you through our ‘new normal’. Our magazine is free, and in order for us to flourish, we rely upon advertising. Please do tell your family, friends, work colleagues and local community about us. If you are a local business, why not advertise with us?


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46 Contents The show must go on

Immune boosting food

Stephens House & Gardens: health and well-being

Embracing change

6 Actor, Michelle Collins

12 Curator, Malcolm Godfrey

What challenges will the new school year bring? 16 Author, Tanith Carey

Are you a Kidadler?

20 Co-founder, Hannah Feldman @ C A R LY M I C H A E L S H O OT S

Study skills are life skills 22 Coach, Juliet Landau-Pope

My 11+ Experience with North Finchley Tutors 24 NFT founder, Ali Baig

26 Nutritionist, Thalia Pellegrini 30 Lucky Things, Sunita Harley

Mrs K Organised

34 Personal organiser, Narinda Keith

Leting Go

38 Business coach, Zuzana Taylor

Singing the Blues

40 Ilana Sheli, singer & songwriter

Community Kindness 42 Two By Two Vets 44 Bread n Butter 46 Allotmentz N11 48 Boost Barnet 50 Oxfam Finchley

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michelle collins

The show must go on Well-known local actor, Michelle Collins, tells FCM what local community means to her



hen Finchley Community Magazine asked me to write about community, I wasn’t sure where I would start. However, I bumped into a woman recently whom I knew slightly but had not seen for some time. The encounter really brought home how important community is to us all. It was at the local Dan and DeCarlo coffee shop getting my daily oat flat white, and when I asked how she was, she burst into tears and told me her husband had died recently. I couldn’t remember her name but know her from the park and walking our dogs. I suggested a little chat in Cherry Tree Woods to which she tearfully agreed. She said her husband, a doctor, had an underlying heart problem but

insisted on going on the tube even though they could afford taxis. She became worried when he kept taking his temperature. The next thing she knew he had called an ambulance, went off to hospital and that was the last she saw of him because he died from Covid-19 .It suddenly brought home the devastating effect that this terrible virus has had on us all. She was grief-stricken and I told her that it is good to cry, and sometimes better with a near stranger than your own family. The lady began. to smile as she told me that she had started to clear out her husband’s things, which can be so cathartic. I like to think I had cheered her up; she just wanted to share her grief with someone. Thank goodness I had the time to chat. Finchley Community 7

for the love of arts

I think I have really slowed down during lockdown and feel much more rooted to where I live. I am so grateful that I live in a community where we all appreciate and respect each other. I never thought I would ever love the familiarity of knowing who my neighbours are; maybe that’s just something you crave more as you get older. I am so lucky to have Cherry Tree Woods on my doorstep too. I have lived in East Finchley for around eight years now after moving from Muswell Hill (which was convenient for Borehamwood where EastEnders is made and in which I was appearing). I wasn’t even really aware that East Finchley was a place ― I knew the Phoenix cinema but that was about it. I consider myself a north London girl; I was born in Hackney, and my family lived in Highbury opposite The Arsenal 8 Finchley Community

football ground (yes, I’m a gooner!). Back in the 70s, the area was a real melting pot and all us kids loved playing in the street, cycling and roller skating, and only popping back home to grab food. No one ever worried about our safety. When I was about 13 or14 a neighbour introduced me to the Woodcraft Folk, which is the antithesis of the brownies and girl guides. It was great fun; we sang songs, went camping and there were boys! The group met in Muswell Hill. It was a fantastic youth group where we sang activist songs around the campfire. We even went to Romania camping for six weeks. It took us around five days to get there on the train and when we arrived, there had been an earthquake in Bucharest. No one bothered to tell us but it didn’t matter. It just made it all the more exciting. I went to Highbury Hill High School for Girls which was one of the last grammar schools in Islington. I never really liked it; it was academic, and I knew I wanted to be an actress. I love walking around the area. East Finchley is so great: you can walk down The Bishops Avenue to Kenwood which I adore. I love the views on Hampstead Heath and I really miss going to the open-air concerts at

michelle collins

“All Dogs Matter, a dog rescue charity on Aylmer Parade, is where I found my pug/ shitzu rescue dog, Humphrey, nearly nine years ago”

Michelle with Ira from All Dogs Matter and her rescue dogs

Kenwood. I also love to walk through Highgate Woods to Muswell Hill and then to Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace), down to Crouch End and back ― great for the legs! I also walk to my local gym on Fortis Green where I have been a member on and off for about 20 years. I feel very privileged to live near the Phoenix which is one of the oldest surviving cinemas in London. I try and go regularly to support local independent cinema. My mother lives nearby and loves all the local charity shops where she knows all the volunteers by name. During lockdown she was desperate to go in and see all the friendly faces again and catch up. I was pleased when they reopened as they have become such a lifeline for a lot of locals especially the older generation in our communities. I support two local charities as well as a couple of bigger ones. One of them, All Dogs Matter, a dog rescue charity on Aylmer Parade, is where I found my pug/shitzu rescue dog, Humphrey, nearly nine years ago. I crazily fostered another dog during lockdown that I have now adopted. She is a cavapoo, probably around one to two years old, and just adorable. The other local charity is the Alexandra Whylie Tower Foundation. It was set up by my friend Lindsey to help local kids and young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. She also runs a food bank in Islington where I have been helping by delivering food parcels to at least 400 people a week during lockdown. When I put a huge bucket outside my house for Finchley Community 9

for the love of arts food bank donations, I was inundated with food and was just blown away by people’s generosity and kindness. Just before lockdown, I was rehearsing Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party for a national tour. I was so looking forward to playing Meg ― a gift of a role. Like so many people in the arts my livelihood was taken away from me overnight. I was also producing and acting in a onewoman show at the Edinburgh Festival which has also been cancelled. When I saw the terrible affect the pandemic was having on the arts, I decided I had to do something to help those in the industry who are suffering. I rang Equity and was told they had set up an emergency fund to help creatives who

were in desperate need financially. I organised a fundraiser by asking some of our well-known British actors to perform five-minute monologues and to video themselves. After I had secured such talent as Ian Mckellan, Derek Jacobi, Lesley Manville, Sanjeev Baskar, Sue Johnston, Elaine Paige and Joseph Fiennes, it was easy to get everyone else. I did it all in 10 days and we launched #For the Love of Arts. We have now raised almost £40,000. You can watch my friends and me performing if you go to com/watch?v=1ILWFDZadFo I have no idea when I will go back to work but at least I have my friends and community to get me through this weird and totally unprecedented time. And, oh yes, my gorgeous dogs too! n

Michelle Collins, Lesley Manville and Lennie James performing their five-minute monologues #For the Love of Arts

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Buying a property? Q&A with Paul Yiannakas, partner at YVA Solicitors YVA Solicitors are committed to providing bespoke, straightforward legal advice in an efficient and cost-effective manner. We have created a dynamic practice with strengths in commercial, property, litigation, employment, wills, trusts, probates and family. Personal care is at the heart of what we do and we pride ourselves on building strong, professional relationships with our clients, many of whom have been with us for decades. Our headquarters are in North Finchley and have since established ourselves in Bloomsbury Square, Holborn. Why do I need a lawyer to buy a property? Property lawyers are qualified to advise on matters relating to property assets. They will listen to your needs and carefully examine the paperwork to ensure your interests are protected. What is the difference between freehold and leasehold property? A freehold property is the permanent ownership of the property and the land on which it is built. A leasehold property is only granted to the leaseholder (or ‘tenant’) for a fixed period of time, which is why lease extensions are required. A lease governs the relationship between landlord and tenant, setting out key terms, such as term, rent and covenants relating to use. What are searches and why do I need them? Searches are carried out to protect against

matters that might have a negative effect on the property and its value. The three standard searches are: (i) local search, (ii) environmental search, and (iii) drainage and water search. Additional searches are often required, depending on locality and what those searches reveal. What is the difference between exchange and completion? Exchange is the date on which the buyer and seller enter a legally binding contract. A deposit is paid (typically 10% of the purchase price) and the completion date is set. On completion, the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price and, in return, receives full title to the property. What is stamp duty (stamp duty land tax – SDLT)? Stamp duty is a government tax that is charged as a percentage of the purchase price (calculated on a tiered system). The amount charged depends on whether you are a firsttime buyer, buying a main residence or an additional property. How much are your fees? Our fees are based on several factors, including the property type and its value. Further details can be found on our website: Alternatively feel free to contact me directly on for a free quotation. n


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stephens house

Helping the community, helping yourself Becoming involved with local charity, Stephens House & Gardens, can have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing


he recent period of lockdown has affected all of us in some way. One thing we have all missed is getting out into the great outdoors, meeting other people and having social interaction. Apart from all the physical effects that lack of exercise can have on the body, there are the unseen effects on our mental health. It was clear that having to close the gardens at Stephens House for just over two months had a negative effect on the local community and visitors from further away. People use the gardens in different ways: exercising on the fitness trail, bringing the children to let off steam in the playground, meeting friends for a coffee and a chat, or catching a moment of calm in the Bothy Gardens. They are all beneficial for our general wellbeing but above all our mental health. The positive effects of having such a green haven on the doorstep should never be underestimated.

It is not just individuals who can benefit; the plethora of small, medium and large local businesses, many of whom will have put their staff on furlough, or working from home, will need somewhere to bring their teams back together as they prepare for the dawn of a new working era post-Covid. Stephens House & Gardens can assist businesses in many ways whether it be opportunities for team building, for example, taking on a garden project and enjoying the results of the team’s labours at the end of the day. It does not all have to be physical work; it could be with chill-out sessions, such as some outdoor yoga or t’ai chi, or just sitting in the great outdoors and collecting your thoughts, or the sense of wellbeing that can be achieved by giving something back to the community. Whether the team is on furlough or working from home, there are unseen side effects on the mental health of any individual, which will affect Finchley Community 13

each person in different ways. Social interaction and a sense of common purpose are essential for any cohesive team; throwing in a bit of physical activity with a large helping of fun makes everyone a winner. Avenue House Estate Trust, the small independent charity, that manages Stephens House & Gardens relies heavily on the support of volunteers, whether this be in the gardens, helping with events, opening and closing the gardens, or staffing the visitor centre. There are always projects in the gardens that teams from local businesses can take on; some can be done in a day and others require a more long-term commitment. For example, the Bog Garden currently needs a

major makeover and then ongoing tender loving care, which includes some design, landscaping and replanting; or perhaps a team could take on the regular maintenance of the playground, such as looking after the sand pit, play bark and equipment. This is mostly a manpower thing but also requires some financial support as well. These would make an ideal project for a business that wants to put its name to supporting a historic part of the garden landscape. It will be good publicity to raise their profile with the vast numbers who visit the gardens throughout the year. What better way to get a business noticed? Not all the opportunities are physical; supporting the boutique museum known as the Stephens Collection and volunteering within the museum lets you meet a wide variety of visitors, socially interacting in a relaxed environment while relating the fascinating history of Inky Stephens. It could get your company noticed. In return for support, Avenue House Estate Trust can provide branding to specific areas in the form of signage,

Malcolm joined Avenue House Estate Trust in 2012 after a career in the Royal Navy and managing some prestigious historic venues including the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He has developed the house as a successful events venue and is currently working with his team to attract more visitors to Stephens House & Gardens. In his ‘spare’ time Malcolm enjoys family life, especially entertaining his three grandchildren. He is the chairman of the Channel Dash Memorial Trust and his hobbies include railways and military modelling.

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stephens house adding the company name to the website via links, and of course, giving them a mention on social media. The Trust also offers discounts on hire rates for meetings and events in the house to regular supporters. Business support is not just linked to physical projects; there are also sponsorship opportunities for upcoming entertainment in the gardens. Looking to a new way forward in 2021, what better way than to put on a series of small concerts throughout the summer next year? Having a company name linked to any of the well-attended public events is a great promotional tool, plus there is also the opportunity to offer key clients some great hospitality supplied by our renowned in-house team.

The lockdown has left the charity short on funds even though the house and gardens are open again. The current restrictions on the hospitality industry make funding to keep the gardens open very tough, whether it be paying staff or the upkeep of the place. In return for backing by local businesses, there are some great opportunities to support the mental health of their staff. There are so many ways to get involved, so please consider doing so. http://www.stephenshouseandgardens. com/get-involved has all the information on ways individuals and businesses alike can become part of the Stephens House & Gardens family. n

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back to school

WHAT CHALLENGES WILL THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR BRING? In an exclusive extract for Finchley Community Magazine, Tanith Carey, co-author of What’s My Child Thinking? discusses how to deal with two of the most common problems your child can face

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tanith carey

As the new school term starts, every parent knows the year ahead will bring some challenges. The latest book by North London mother Tanith Carey and child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin, What’s my child thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents, looks at more than 100 issues through the lens of child development. It then quickly translates what your child could be thinking and then offers the best sciencebased strategies you can use.


Scenario 1: ‘I can’t do it’ Your primary age child crumples up her worksheet and throws it on the floor after barely starting her maths homework saying: ‘I can’t do it’. As she sits down to do her homework, your child’s worry that she doesn’t know what to write is likely to have triggered the fight-flight-freeze response in her brain. This means the rational, logical part has stopped working and she really doesn’t know how to start tackling the task. Bear in mind too that when your child hears a voice inside her head, telling her

‘I can’t do it,’ she believes it must be true. It could also be a few hours since she had her maths lesson. So this sudden panic may get diverted into anger and resistance against you. How to respond: first of all resist your natural urge to tell her ‘Not to be silly’ or try and reassure her that: ‘You do know how!’, or worse still, get angry, which will make her brain freeze even more. Over time, if homework becomes a struggle, your child could well internalise labels that she’s disappointing you and give up trying.

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back to school Instead, scan the worksheet patiently with her to help jog her memory, and then praise her for every step she makes in the right direction, even if it’s just sitting and listening, or writing her name at the top of the sheet or attempting the first sum. If she really is struggling don’t force her and do it for her. This will mask the problem if she lost focus in her lesson or

has not fully understood the topic. If your child continues to find homework hard, let her teacher know she is finding it challenging so they can step in and help. Most of all keep it in perspective. Remember that all children want to do well at school. But they are likely to give up trying if they feel like they are always failing.

Your child tells you that the other boys wouldn’t let him join in their game at break-time and says that they are being mean to him. It’s not unusual sometimes for children to say they have no friends. Primary-age children are usually blackand-white thinkers. If, for example, your child’s friend told him he didn’t want to play with him that day, your child may take it as a general sign he is not likeable by anyone, unless reassured by you. Although you may feel protective, remember that it doesn’t help to label every act of meanness as bullying either. Bullying is a long-term organised campaign of meanness by a more powerful child against a socially weaker one, deliberately designed to cause hurt. Most of these kinds of social skirmishes at this age are kids testing their social power or just wanting different things. How to respond: see if you can find out more about what happened. Ask your child to tell you what a camera

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© i S TO C K

Scenario 2: ‘They won’t let me play’

tanith carey

“Keep it in perspective. Remember that all children want to do well at school”

would have seen if it had filmed the interaction. If he’s having difficulty describing what happened, you could role-play with him so you understand the dynamics. Let him explain his hurt without dismissing or downplaying it. But then give him a hug, tell him you love to be with him, and say that just because someone was mean to him today, doesn’t mean he won’t have fun tomorrow. Explain that whenever humans get together, they have different wants and goals, so he doesn’t feel like he’s being singled out or there’s something wrong with him. However, if your child regularly comes home saying he’s got no one to play with, it may be a sign that he’s not decoding social cues accurately. Talk to his teacher about what they are seeing in the playground and if he is regularly being left out, help him actively learn friendships skills with activities, like board games, which improve skills like turn-taking and compromise. n

Tanith Carey is the author of 13 books, mainly on parenting. Her latest book What’s My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents is available from Amazon (https:// Her other books include: What’s My Teenager Thinking, The Friendship Maze: How to Help Your Child Navigate Their Way to Positive and Happier Friendships, Taming the Tiger Parent: How to put your child’s well-being first in a competitive world and Girls Uninterrupted: Steps for Building Stronger Girls in a Challenging World. Tanith lives in Highgate with her husband, two daughters, two cats and dog. She has lived in north London since her two daughters Lily and Clio were born. She has always loved the area and since lock-down she has valued it even more. Tanith says that despite being part of a huge city, there is a real village atmosphere to each community. She believes that magazines like Finchley Community Magazine actively work to bring us all closer together.

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What inspired you to start Kidadl? After starting a family, I found myself constantly researching where we could go and what we could do to engage and stimulate our growing kids, whether we were at home or on holiday. The fact that I couldn’t find a trusted platform to deliver family-centred ideas and inspiration, tailored to the ages and stages of my kids, led me to start a company that put families in the driving seat and Kidadl was born!

Are you a Kidadler? Hannah Feldman tells Finchley Community Magazine why she founded Kidadl, the go-to app for family inspiration and information

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Can you explain what you have created for those who may not have come across it? is a website that offers families ideas and inspiration for fun and learning at home, and out in the wider world. The site offers free content for kids of all ages from toddlers to teens, and you can search based on the ages and interests of your children with over 23 categories to explore from Sports & Active to Discounts & Deals, Education, Free Fun and Birthday Ideas ― and everything in between! We also offer a free newsletter (www.kidadl. com/newsletter) to our community of ‘Kidadlers’ packed full of brilliant deals and ideas for families to enjoy week in, week out. What are your three favourite things that you offer? 1 We’re a family who love exploring — whether around Finchley, across London or further afield; we always consult Kidadl for new ideas. For example, one of my children is in a dino-obsessed phase so we booked to see Dinosaur World Live locally with a

kidadl brilliant deal available on Kidadl. I took my older children to see this show a few years back and they were completely captivated so I’m looking forward to a repeat visit. We also love using Kidadl’s resources for free fun, especially when it comes to visiting some of our brilliant neighbouring parks and gardens, and this summer, we went to the beach for the first time in a year, with the help of the handy Kidadl guide (www.kidadl. com/articles/7-best-beaches-within-2hours-of-london) which my kids absolutely loved! 2

The past few months have meant that as a family we’ve had to rise to the challenge of home-learning. We have been using loads of Kidadl’s free educational resources to help navigate the days with less structure (and less experienced educators) than usual! Often ideas for our articles have come from the very trials and tribulations that we have experienced in our home setting, and we’re always trying to unearth better ways for families to 3

access best in-class learning resources and tried and tested tips. What would you recommend from your resources for children starting school? One of our children is starting school this autumn. I found www.kidadl. com/articles/tips-preparing-kids-startschool super useful because it is packed full of tips to prepare him. We have already set up a pretend school at home as a result! For those who want to dive into more learning aids and ways to prepare for school we have hundreds of useful articles and guides in the early years education category on Kidadl. com. Take your pick! What is your proudest moment so far? Seeing emails and reviews that flood in from our users (the ‘Kidadlers’) after using the site, and the genuine joy and excitement coming from parents who’ve found our platform to be such a useful tool in their daily lives. Nothing can ever beat this feeling and it motivates me every day! n

Hannah Feldman is co-founder of — the family-focused website on a mission to inspire the next generation by serving up the best events, ideas and resources for fun and learning. Before founding Kidadl, Hannah worked for over 18 years across law, finance and media, in roles as a solicitor, commercial advisor and corporate finance director in London and Hong Kong. Hannah now has three kids and lives with her husband in Finchley Central having moved across from West Hampstead for ‘a feeling of space and community, with fantastic local schools and handy amenities, plus plenty of good parks and outdoor spaces like Dollis Brook to keep the kids active’.

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study skills

Study skills are life skills too Juliet Landau-Pope, time management coach, explains how teenagers can be helped to develop vital skills


procrastination are also key. And for some, the challenge is to recognise and manage perfectionist tendencies. If you can create and stick to a study schedule, and kickstart yourself into action when motivation dips, you’ll be set for success.

Organising I coach teens to manage disorder by creating systems to sort and store information. The aim is to be able to find what you need when you need it. Expensive storage or stationery are not necessary ― there are plenty of simple solutions to managing clutter but it’s vital for teens to devise systems that they can maintain, ideally on their own.

Exam revision Not knowing how to revise effectively is one of the most common sources of stress and anxiety among teens. And there’s more to it than making notes or cramming. Strategies include reviewing course materials, checking and consolidating understanding, and applying knowledge via quizzes and practice papers. I also coach students to boost memory by creating revision aides such as flashcards, posters, tables, mind maps, audio and video. Techniques vary according to subject and level, and again, it’s vital to explore what works best for each individual student.

or many teens, especially those gearing up for GCSE exams, the start of this new academic year will be more nervewracking than usual. With all the disruption to education caused by Covid-19, it’s more important than ever for teens to develop independent, active study skills. But what are study skills and why do they matter? For the past twenty years I’ve worked with students to address these issues:

Time management My approach is to encourage teens to study smart, not hard. This involves coaching to boost productivity such as setting study goals and tracking progress. Learning to deal with distractions and work to deadlines is particularly empowering. Planning, prioritising and overcoming 22 Finchley Community

Knowing how to study not only enhances academic success; it also boosts confidence, motivation and self-esteem. And whatever career path you opt for after school, these skills are transferable. That’s why I believe so passionately that study skills are life skills too. n For more information:

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Our main goal is to introduce Computer Coding and Robotics to both children and grownups in a simple, fun and interesting way We run school clubs: “Game Design Club” for Infant and Junior Schools “Robo Club” for Junior Schools During school holidays we run “STAR Activites” for kids aged between 8 and 14 years old. We offer tailored computing and robotic courses for children, teens and adults, school assemblies, and workshops for school staff & children. For more information, please feel free to contact us 077 4849 3383 Facebook @eAssistant

My 11-plus experience Ali Baig, head of North Finchley Tutors, describes his frustrations with the 11-plus process, which led him to found NFT As a teacher for 13 years, I always felt I knew the education system inside out. I had watched other parents go through 11-plus and knew it was a stressful process and more importantly, a competitive one; but nothing prepared me for the horror I went through when my own daughter embarked on the 11-plus journey. I was aware, from school, that my daughter was the most academic in her year group. We are a family of experienced teachers and I genuinely thought she would be okay. However, we were not naïve enough to think that our daughter would take learning seriously if we taught her ourselves, so we decided to employ tutors for reasoning and mathematics. I must confess, sometimes, I felt guilty, seeing her exhausted little face plough through the extensive classes, homework and papers. But, as always, she did it all with a calm and level-headed approach. Different boroughs have varied approaches to the 11-plus process: instead of sitting one exam (which seems fair and reasonable to minimise anxiety) our borough, Barnet, makes children sit a different series of tests for each school. My daughter sat 12 exams for three schools. Moreover, primary schools do not provide any practice for 24 Finchley Community

11-plus tests; this means that any parent who cannot afford a tutor stands very little chance of getting their child in; they simply would not be familiar with the papers or what to expect. Full of confidence, I booked a series of mock exams (£80 per paper and necessary to stay ahead of the competition) and, to my utter disbelief, my daughter did not get into the top 300. Clearly, the issue was not her academic ability but the fact she was crumbling under the intense pressure. For the first time, we began to feel anxious. Some close family friends confessed the same feelings of frustrations with the system and then it dawned on me: these sessions were not thorough enough to give these children the time and attention they needed. So, why not put a small group together and run an intensive revision and training course? Thus, North Finchley Tutors was born. My wife, sisters and the tutors I had already hired were all involved in creating a busy, family environment — a learning hive — and all the feedback from the families involved suggested that their children enjoyed, and, dare I say it, looked forward to coming to us. Lessons initially took place on Saturdays, 10am-3pm and a healthy, nutritious lunch was provided, along with plenty of fun activities and breaks. We had a mixture of boys and girls, aiming for a range of schools: Queen Elizabeth’s, Henrietta Barnett, Dame Alice Owen’s and St Michael’s Catholic Grammar, among others. So, yes, we had high expectations, but we ensured our students were treated as more than just robots. My own daughter gained admission to her first-choice school, as did the other children in her cohort at NFT. I cannot take the entire credit as my family and staff worked so hard and without their guidance and support, this

would definitely not have been possible. However, despite my euphoria, I could not help but think about those children who worked so hard for so many years and did not overcome this hurdle. The disillusionment, despondency and disappointment would bring tears to anyone’s eyes. I decided to continue with NFT and we went on to grow our family of teachers, students and parents. We are now based in Woodhouse College, North Finchley, and work with families, from that very first assessment, to create a bespoke and comprehensive programme, which is focused on the individual student. All the resources we use are created by us and we set, mark and monitor homework to ensure

students are working, even when they are not with us. I do sometimes wonder: surely, there must be a better way to select able students without such a rigid system that does not credit any imagination, merely because of marking limitations. The government has a responsibility to help more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access these entrance tests and create more schools of a higher standard, that are not just outstanding in name, but successful in gaining parents’ trust and confidence. But, until that happens, call NFT. They say it takes a village to raise a child. And that is the ethos of our centre. n You can contact North Finchley Tutors on 08458623021 or via the website:

Call Nadine on: 07969864085 or visit:


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thalia pelligrini

Boosting your immunity with diet Thalia Pellegrini explains how what you eat can improve your family’s immune system health

© i S TO C K / S K Y N E S H E R


eptember marks the return to school for most children after months away from the classroom. Likewise, many of us may be returning to offices and to a daily commute, perhaps with trepidation as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’. So, when it comes to our health and our immune system, what’s food got to do with it? Can what we eat help to protect us from illness? Our immune system is astonishing and complex. One of its jobs is fighting off viruses. Over the past few months, you’re likely to have read about ‘immune-boosting’ supplements or ways to protect yourself from coronavirus. Researchers have been feverishly busy in 2020, trying to establish whether what we eat might affect how well our immune system works in response to Covid-19. In June, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee

on Nutrition (SACN) began to evaluate high-quality evidence relating to nutrition, the immune system and Covid -19. Various single nutrients were highlighted but the overall advice was to have a ‘healthy, balanced diet’. This research was compounded in June when the government announced its statistics showed that nearly 8% of critically ill patients in intensive care units with coronavirus have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population. The evidence is clear: there is a link between obesity and an increased risk of serious illness or death as a result of Covid -19. The pandemic has given us a ‘wake-up call’, the government asserted. We need to move more and eat better.

Food First

OK. So, what does a ‘healthy, balanced diet’ look like? When you’re thinking Finchley Community 27

boosting immunity about lunch or dinner for example, you want to aim for some protein (pulses, fish, meat or eggs), some leafy greens or salad, some complex carbohydrate in the form of wholegrains such as whole wheat pasta, or brown bread or brown rice (rather than refined, white equivalents), and some healthy fats (olive oil dressing, nuts, seeds, eggs or oily fish). Getting this balance of nutrients that the body needs in relatively large amounts each day (known as macronutrients) means you’ll also be getting fibre, plus sources of micronutrients too, including vitamins A, B6, B12, folate, selenium and zinc — all which help to produce immune cells.

Should you be taking supplements?

I’m often asked about supplements. They can be extremely useful in the short term to address nutritional deficiencies, but please take them in consultation with a nutrition professional. Taken incorrectly, they can cause other imbalances. Many also interact with prescribed medication.

One exception to this advice is vitamin D. Recent research shows that vitamin D status appears to be particularly important when it comes to COVID-19. Currently, government advice is that everyone including children aged five and over should take 400ius (10mcg) a day, through the autumn and winter. Your individual needs may be greater, but please do not take high doses of vitamin D without professional advice or testing your vitamin D levels every three months.

Don’t JUST eat your greens

Eating more fruit and vegetables can help support our immune system — and think colour! Every colour means different phytochemicals, and the more of these fabulous plant chemicals we get, the better. It is far preferable to get your vitamin C from the rainbow colours of red peppers, blackberries, oranges, kiwis and watermelon, for example, then from popping a supplement. There are also key vitamins A, E, D, K — all found in fruit and vegetables. Think about how you might increase

Thalia Pellegrini is a registered nutritional therapist (FdSc DipION BANT CNHC). Based in East Finchley, she is currently running her nutrition clinic online via Zoom. Known as the Knackered Mums Nutritionist, she creates bespoke nutrition plans for mums. Contact her at where you can also download her FREE e-book Fantastic FiveMinute Breakfasts. She also offers FREE 20-minute discovery calls if you’re interested in pursuing nutritional therapy.

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thalia pelligrini your daily intake. Start the day with a smoothie, perhaps. Add a small salad with lunch, munch on a piece of fruit mid-afternoon and add some extra veggies to whatever you have for your evening meal and you could soon be chalking up eight portions in a day. Always aim for five portions as a minimum. When you’re shopping, look to add a range of colours to your basket. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great option. If you’re buying tinned fruit, avoid those with added sugar.

Winter Health

As we head into autumn and winter, with all the uncertainty of whether a second wave of infection will transpire,

consider shaking up how you eat a little. Instead of reaching for supplements, think about what’s on your plate. Aim to get a portion of macros into everyone, throw in some colourful fruit and vegetables, and you’re doing a great job.

Optimum Health

Of course, good health goes beyond just what we eat. Getting enough good quality sleep and making regular exercise part of our lifestyle is also integral to a healthy immune system, but there is no question that a balanced diet is a positive and protective choice. Crowding out high-fat, high-sugar junk food with unprocessed, wholefoods is a sensible approach when it comes to supporting our immune health. n

xxxxxx embracing change

Embracing change Who would have thought 2020 would look and feel like this? Because of the pandemic, we faced sudden changes in so many ways: how we live, our health and that of others, our food shopping routine, and how we spend time with our close ones and community. As a career, business and confidence coach, I often speak to clients and run workshops for companies about navigating change. Whether it’s growing our businesses, parenting, moving in different career directions or growing our confidence, we all need to know how to navigate change.

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Sunita Harley explains why it is important to think about how you work with change

embracing change I’m proud of my British-Mauritian heritage; my husband is English, born in Birmingham. We have found our long-term home in north London ― a place where we have navigated a number of life’s ups and downs, such as celebrating our weddings with Hindu and civil ceremonies, going through IVF treatment twice, seeing our elder daughter walk for the first time down our street in East Finchley, and so much more. I love the Finchley neighbourhood and during lockdown I have learnt to appreciate its diversity. It makes us feel

part of London. Having worked in HR, coaching and professional development for about 20 years, one thing I know is that often, change is not easy. It was the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who once said: ‘Change is the only constant in life’, so it’s even more important to think about our own ways of working with change. We have now reached the autumn months and yet another phase of change. Looking back at what we have all experienced in 2020 may feel unique. However, it is possible that there will be more changes to come.

Why is it important to think about how we work with change? Change is a part of everyday life Sometimes we decide the changes and at times others decide them for us. Being aware of how change makes us feel is so important. Do we welcome change? Do we avoid it (if possible)? Or do we muddle through change? 1

We have already managed so many changes so spend a moment to give yourself some recognition Why not pause while reading this and think of a time where you responded well to a change in your life, work, environment or social space. We humans are better at adapting than we realise. Be proud of your ‘change moment’. 2

People in your household or social group respond differently to change It’s helpful to be aware of this. As autumn and the start of the new academic year approaches; this could bring on diverse 3

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emotions, or feelings of excitement or anxiety. The next phase of the economic pandemic looms; we need to acknowledge how we, and others, feel about this so we can take practical action. You can plan for change in small steps When I coach people about how to make progress with their plans, I remind them that small steps are equally important. A Plan for potential changes in a positive way; think about the first two things you need to do to respond or adjust to this change. B It’s fine to feel emotional about change, so be kind to yourself. C Make a list about the benefits as well as any concerns about the change. This list may offer some ideas about how you can then work with the change. D If you can’t think of ways to navigate change, speak to someone who might have some ideas that will work for you. 4


Since 2017, I’ve been hosting the Lucky Things Meet Ups for women at various locations around Finchley. These networking events also run online and are inclusive, informative and inspiring spaces. They are an opportunity to invest in our confidence, careers and wellbeing. They feature talks and workshops as well as providing a friendly networking space for all women. One of the regular attendees told me: ‘Lucky Things Meet Ups are a great way to invest in yourself and spend time in a space with down-to-earth and supportive women who also inspire each other’. The free online Lucky Things Meet Up events run fortnightly on Thursdays. The next ones will be 3 September, 17th September and thereafter.

Sunita Harley’s colourful career began in fashion and media, working with brands such as Vogue. Sunita, has featured on national radio and television. She loves helping others to feel confident about their careers, businesses and wellbeing. She provides coaching services and runs training workshops for different organisations. For more information about Lucky Things Meet Ups and Masterclasses, visit You can also access the Lucky Things blog via: Instagram: @luckythingsblog Facebook: @luckythingsblog Twitter: @luckythingsblog Email: Finchley Community 33

personal organising

Narinda Keith talks to Nicola Harrison about her passion for organising Nicola Harrison: What satisfaction do you get from sharing your skills to help others? Narinda Keith: I can honestly say that reading client reviews is very emotional because I invest my time and energy helping them to love their personal spaces again. It is a process that we go through together, teaching new techniques and then receiving verbal and visual feedback. I would describe myself as an altruist because when I help people, I feel fulfilled.

feel more relaxed than a chaotic overcrowded space.

NH: Can you explain why being organised is so beneficial for everyone’s wellbeing? NK: I suffer from anxiety and I have found that having an organised home is beneficial for my mind, body and spirit. It is knowing that everything I possess in my home has a purpose and is loved. Having a clear space can increase productivity, improve decision making, increase motivation, bring happiness and create a more positive mindset. Such an environment can make one

2. Start with clothing Following the Konmari method I do like to start with clothing first. This is the easiest way to begin your tidying journey and I have found after completing the clothing category with my clients they have the tools to tackle other areas of the home; it follows the same principle to organise by category and keep what you love.

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NH: What are your top three tips to begin the process of organising? NK: 1. Be in the mood Put yourself in the mood to tidy up, almost as if you are getting ready to go out to your favourite restaurant or on a shopping trip. Play some music and even light a candle to really get yourself in the zone. Seeing it as a positive task that will change your life is always a good way to start.

3. Give yourself time It is a process and depending on the size


I have worked with many different client types; some are hoarders so it’s important to be kind to yourself, take breaks and remember that the biggest challenge has already been achieved and that is asking for help to change your life

Narinda Keith

personal organising of your home or the amount of years of clutter you have built up, you need to allow your home to get messy before it is transformed into an organised heaven. NH: Advice for limited space? NK: I am very experienced working with limited spaces. My first rented property was a one-bedroom flat and when I began my tidying journey, I was still living in such a flat even after our second child was born. Space was restricted, so there were no dumping grounds. What worked for me was to keep only what I needed and be ruthless with items that did not serve a purpose. Everything I currently own I love and use. NH: Can you tell me about the environmental benefits? NK: The environment is important to me and I do what I can to reuse plastic. Where possible I avoid purchasing additional storage solutions for clients. I try to reuse items they already have such as shoeboxes that can hold items neatly. I only buy what i need and donate to charity rather than landfill. I believe if you can reduce wastage you

Narinda working her magic!

will help the world to be a greener place to live. A visit to the charity shop is more exciting than shopping for me, that feeling when I fill up a bag for myself or a client and donate knowing that someone else will feel joy from them is a great feeling. If you are creative, upcycling is also a really great way to reuse household items rather than throwing away, I have seen some very resourceful and creations from using things like welly boots as plant pots. n

Narinda lives in north London with her husband and two children. She began her career in retail until an accident in 2007 left her with problems standing for long periods. She changed to an office-based career as well as working as a model. Narinda appears regularly on ITV’s This Morning show and for the cosmetic brand Trinny London. When Narinda read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it changed her life. She had always loved organising the homes of friends and families, and decided to set up a business via Instagram, which she named MrsKorganised

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T: 07958 705282 Classes all over Finchley including group sessions, private 1-2-1 and antenatal groups

The Magic of Letting Go! Create space for new opportunities Š i S TO C K / M E S U T U G U R LU

Words: Zuzana Taylor

letting go


am going to die’, I said to my husband while I was in labour in unbearable, indescribable pain. In the middle of it all I found myself somewhere between here and the afterlife. I thought that I was in a half-bright and half-dark tunnel-like place. I heard outside noises around me, but they were muffled and a bit echoey. I was aware of everything around me but not there. I thought that was my journey to the other world and I was dying. But I did not feel any of that excruciating pain anymore; it was pleasant, and I felt like flowing through the tunnel. I had let go! When I let go and ‘died’ a huge transformation replaced that space and the following happened: l surrendered into my body, trusting my body and the contractions to do the job for me. I stopped pushing, stopped forcing and my body did it all, resulting in the birth of my beautiful daughter. Almost three years later, just before my daughter’s third birthday I realised and saw the connection with my old self ‘dying’. That old person was stuck in her own way, determined to push through anything and everything, including pain, to make things work and suffering the

pain. A new person was born; a mum, a businesswoman, a woman who is learning to let go of things that no longer serve her. My daughter was only 15 months old when I started my business and I had a three-year-old son. I am growing, learning and empowering others every single day.

“Let go, trust your journey and be grateful” I am so grateful for my two children who are my everything, my motivation, inspiration, best friends and my big WHY. I am here to live, love, learn and be a better version of myself every day. I fulfil my desires and dreams, having beautiful experiences. I am light, I am energy, I am divine! I learned my lesson and the magic of letting go, where I gain more than the thing I was holding on to for my dear life. Is there anything you are holding on to? Sit with yourself quietly and simply ask yourself this question. The answer is within you. When you have your answer, you know what to do next, right? Let go, trust your journey and be grateful. n

Zuzana Taylor has lived in Finchley for 20 years, with her husband and two children. They love living in a tree-lined street, with open spaces and parks. Their neighbours are friendly and there is a good community spirit. Zuzana is a self-employed, holistic transformational business coach. Her passion is to empower mothers to build successful businesses with clarity and confidence while living fulfilled lives. Transformational Business Coach:

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Singing the Blues Ilana Sheli, singer and songwriter, reflects on life before and during lockdown


ack in the ‘old world’, I was a non-digitally minded jazz singer by night (Lana Shelley), in sequinned gowns and cocktail bars, swinging at weddings and events across London. By day I was a children’s entertainer and musician (Ilana Banana), hosting local, weekly music and playgroups, parties and family discos. The rest of the time I was just Ilana Sheli, mum to two, wife to one, and everything in between, based here in Finchley.

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ilana sheli I have lived happily in the area for 13 her amusement, who quickly posted it years, having been raised in Barnet, not online and the response was fantastic. far down the road. I moved here with Needless to say, I was not alone in my my husband, drawn in by its proximity experience of being a locked-down mum and easy access to London, excellent and quite accidentally, there swiftly nurseries and schools, and an abundance followed a whole series of these songs, of greenery. I know nearly everyone on my ‘Lockdown Lullabies’ covering my street, we all help and look out for topics such as homeschooling, gin, each other, and the community spirit is cohabitation, holidays and favourite strong. I rarely leave the house without things. They are all available to view bumping into someone I know, and I on my You Tube channel and I dare say love that. I also feel utterly spoilt to be you’ll relate to a few. This also helped to so close to Dollis Valley Greenwalk, maintain a sense of community as I was the dimensions of which singing what many were we have been discovering feeling, and I like to think “I have already that brought a few of us during lockdown, always enjoyed some seeking new green spaces together ― no-one suffers commissions and alone! to explore. One of the things that has stood out As well as being I am now proud for me at this time has been to offer, formally, wonderfully cathartic this loving where I live, making also reignited my love a bespoke song of song writing. This is the weight of lockdown writing service” something I have done easier to bear. When lockdown began, since my teens but made all my work stopped. The schools were little time for during lockdown. I have closed too . . .! The fact that I was a total already enjoyed some commissions and technophobe added to my disorientation, I am now proud to offer, formally, a but I plunged myself into the digital bespoke song writing service. world and quickly learned a lot. I I am also available for jazz gigs ― solo managed to maintain and provide ‘Ilana or with band, doorstep or garden. And Banana services’ online and was pleased of course, my Ilana Banana services to be able to offer a sense of normality to continue too. All my work has always my former guests and, once I accepted revolved around community and that this would not be my time to ‘make bringing people together through music; a million’, I became a bit more playful. whether online or in ‘real life’ this is With the desire, also, to offer some something that will continue for sure. n online musical content ‘for the grownups’, one afternoon I recorded me Ilana can be contacted via her singing ‘Summertime’ in my garden. websites: and However, the words just didn’t feel right, You can also so I changed them and ’Mothertime’ listen to Ilana on Youtube. The was born. I sent it to my cousin, for ‘Mothertime’ link is Finchley Community 41

community vets

Whether your pet is large or small, has fur, beaks, scales or feathers, our local community practice is here to help Words: Saskya Monchar Walking down Finchley’s Long Lane you may have spotted cats, dogs, small animals, reptiles and birds waiting to be seen at Two By Two Veterinary Centre. Founded in 2017 by Andrew Monchar, the principal veterinary surgeon, the surgery has now cared for the pets of over 1,000 people in the vicinity. The large premises are equipped to provide the best service for people and their pets using state-of-the-art equipment to help diagnosis and treatment. Facilities include a dental suite, digital x-ray machine, an inhouse diagnostics laboratory and an operating theatre. Food and toys are for sale in the pet boutique. For those going abroad, Dr Monchar is an ‘official veterinarian’, able to provide pet passports, advice and travel certification when people want to take their small animals or birds abroad. Dr Monchar says: ‘Our goal is to put pet’s health and wellbeing at the forefront of our operations through promoting preventative healthcare and serving 42 Finchley Community

the needs of local residents and their pets.’ He believes that his clients are his inspiration and is thankful for the support they give the business. Two By Two Vets is a little different from other practices in the area. Since 2019, it has been the new location for the provision of ‘RSPCA veterinary services in the Finchley, Golders Green and Hendon area. These services used to be offered from the East Finchley Small Animal Clinic for over 50 years. Anne Lewis, Chair of RSPCA Finchley Branch says: ‘After the closure of our clinic we were excited to start a new venture working with Andrew at Two by Two to provide veterinary care to those who need it most’. People who meet certain eligibility criteria of being in receipt of specified benefits and living in N2, N3, N12 and specified surrounding postcodes can access low-cost first-opinion veterinary services. Two By Two offers consultation slots for subsidised care

two by two at clinics held on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. Services include vaccinations, microchipping, cat neutering and urgent care; RSPCA clients are also eligible to use the

emergency out-of-hours care offered. Anyone wanting to find out if they are eligible for the scheme can contact the RSPCA on 07928 628 771 MondayFriday 9am-3pm.

ASK AN DREW any dog over the age of eight weeks microchipped and to keep your details up to date. We expect this to be the case for cats in the future too. We can do this simple procedure in our practice.

Why did you decide to open the Two By Two veterinary centre in Finchley? Living in North Finchley, I really liked the community atmosphere, so when I had the chance to open a premises locally, I seized the opportunity. What do you like about the area? Together with my family we feel we are part of the community. There are so many things to do, especially outdoors, and we enjoy going to the local nature reserve Long Lane Pastures, Swan Lane Open Space and Friary Park. What one piece of advice would you give to pet owners? Ensure your cats and dogs are microchipped, and that your contact details are up to date so there is a good chance of lost pets being reunited with owners. It's a legal requirement to have

What measures have you taken to ensure Two By Two Vets is Covid secure? We have recently made adaptations to become a Covid-secure business, including installing a screen in the reception area, allowing space for social distancing, providing hand sanitiser, and asking clients to wear face masks. During lockdown we offered home deliveries of medicines and pet food to people shielding or self-isolating. Andrew Monchar, BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS, is the owner and director of Two By Two veterinary centre. He graduated as a veterinary surgeon from the Royal Veterinary College and completed a degree in veterinary conservation medicine from the University of Liverpool. He then spent almost a decade of extensive experience at companion animal veterinary practices before founding this inclusive, friendly, independent veterinary practice to serve the needs of pets and their owners.,, www. and 020 3865 8905. Finchley Community 43

community kindness



read n Butter is a social enterprise that teaches the basic life skills of cooking and healthy independent sustainable living. Natasha says: ‘Food is at the heart of all our projects and we love nothing more than to connect communities through the medium of food.’ Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the business because we had to cease all our classes and workshops in schools and throughout the wider communities we serve. However, we realised the need for fresh, healthy meals and overnight became full-time chefs. At the peak of the pandemic, we were cooking over 1,500 meals a week; in partnership with Onestonegrove and the Hive Trust, we delivered our meals to people in need across Barnet and neighbouring boroughs. Recently, we have gone back to what we know best: teaching people how to cook. We have developed recipe meal kits that we now deliver to over 150 families each week. Using surplus food from the Felix Project and other food-surplus organisations, we deliver a bag which contains a recipe and

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all the ingredients to make a healthy balanced meal for a family of up to six people. The idea is that children can get involved with the food preparation and cooking of the meal. This helps them to learn new skills and gaining a sense of achievement. We also know from experience that when children participate in the preparation of food they are more likely to try and eat different flavours and dishes. ‘I decided to make the dish with my children to encourage them to try new dishes. Giving each child a task made them feel very grown up. All my children cleared their plates. Big thumbs up all round. Thank you.’ From a mother of three children. ‘Community to us is connecting people irrespective of age, faith or ability, and providing a space for people to “break bread”. Providing everyone with a clear, listened-to voice is fundamental to a cohesive fair society.’ Natasha Walter, founding director, Bread n Butter CIC. n More information about the work of Bread n Butter can be found at or Instagram/Facebook: breadnbuttercic

bread n butter

Natasha Walter, of Bread n Butter, tells Finchley Community Magazine how food connects communities

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Allotmentz N11 Nigeal Andall tells us about his inspiring new community project


he Allotmentz N11 café/restaurant opened on Friday, 10 July during the bleakest time many of us have ever experienced. Not knowing whether people would come and eat with us we opened tentatively. To our amazement, we received an amazing reception. The Major of Barnet came and gave an opening speech and we had people queuing down the street wanting to taste our community fusion cuisine. We haven’t looked back since. The ultimate aim of Allotmentz N11 is to create a platform and sustainable income stream where we can train and employ marginalised youths who can become tomorrow’s community champions. The idea is to engage, enable, empower and equip our young people to take social action into key areas of deprivation. During the virus lockdown this has become even more important as young people between the ages of 16-25 have been disproportionately affected in terms of social isolation and employment opportunities which ultimately leads to poor mental health. Barnet has one of the highest rates in London of young adults suffering from mental health issues and being admitted to hospital. Nigeal Andall, the inspiration behind the project, has worked deep within communities London-wide. He says: ‘Community for me is where every creed and race are given fair opportunity to celebrate diversity. The Allotmentz is a project which forms part of the North London Community Consortium where we use food as a means of engagement and education with enterprise.’ Nigeal explains that being a social action group, Allotmentz has teamed up with like-minded individuals and organisations such as Bread n Butter CIC, Young Barnet Foundation and the Metropolitan Police. Danusia Brzezicka, community participation and equalities officer at Barnet Council told FCM: ‘We welcome Nigeal and the NLCC to Barnet and we look forward to seeing their wonderful projects being developed with Barnet’s young people.’ n The café can be found at the Allotments, 61 Friern Barnet Road, London N11 3EH, and is open seven days a week. For further information, please visit, www. or Instagram Allotmentz_n11

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Anna Czeska and David Thomas explain how a local community initiative is helping boost opportunities


efore lockdown, if you came into one of our outreach locations the first thing you would have noticed would have been the busy yet friendly atmosphere. You might find Yolanda or Michelle, our employment advisors, checking one of their clients’ CVs and advising them on how best to represent themselves on both paper and in person to potential future employers. Or Karen, our welfare benefits advisor, helping a client to find out which benefits they are entitled to and helping them apply. You might also see Lawrence, our BOOST manager, welcoming clients as they arrive, and chatting to them to decide which member of staff or partner would benefit them most. It has been like this since 2015, when BOOST was originally founded to support residents of Burnt Oak as part of a pilot project to test multi-agency working. Our aim was to bring together

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support services to help a community while being based in the community itself. BOOST was founded by Barnet Council in partnership with West London Alliance using Transformation Challenge funding. Project leadership is provided by Barnet Homes. We opened our offices in Burnt Oak library in May 2015, and our original staffing line-up included Barnet Homes, DWP Jobcentre Work Coaches, youth and mental health employment specialists, and local community group Love Burnt Oak. In recent years, we have expanded our service to Cricklewood and Friern Barnet. We can now offer our service to any resident in the London Borough of Barnet. Because of the drastic change in work environment caused by lockdown, the BOOST team has been working hard to reproduce the same personalised face-to-face ambience for our clients, but it has been challenging! We decided to

boost barnet move the service online and launched our website (see below), so Boosters can easily find information and register with us from the safety of their homes. We like to check on our clients once a week, encouraging them to keep searching for that job and to stay on track with training courses. However, more often than not it’s just to keep in touch. We believe it’s the power of small talk and the personal connection that makes the difference. Our phone line is open for those who need employment, benefit or financial advice from 9am– 4pm on weekdays. As well as employment support, our services also include benefits advice, help with discretionary funding to cover rent shortfalls, access to training courses

and referrals to a wide range of partners including foodbanks, Citizen’s Advice Bureaus, Work and Health Programme, National Careers Service, Twining Enterprise and Westminster Drugs Project. Among BOOST’s Finchley partners are St Barnabas Church and The Grange Big Local. n All our services are free of charge and open to any Barnet resident regardless of age or location. Since we started, BOOST has signed up around 3,000 people and helped nearly 1,000 into work. You can call 0208 359 2442, email or visit the website or social media @boostbarnet. Anna Czeska is digital marketing officer and David Thomas, head of partnerships, at the Barnet Group.

Oxfam Finchley – more than just a charity The Oxfam shop on Ballards Lane has been at the heart of the community in Finchley Central for over 40 years. But it is more than just a charity shop according to Jessica Cole, deputy manager


he local community is as much part of Oxfam Finchley as Oxfam Finchley is to the local community. Without one another, they simply would not be quite the same. The local community is something that means a lot, as shop manager, Debbie Stachera, explains: ‘It’s lovely coming into work every day, seeing a mix of old and new. Seeing regular customers and being able to have a catch up with them is great, as is seeing new faces appearing in our shop. It’s nice to see a wide array of customers, all with different stories to tell; and it’s precisely this that makes this Oxfam a melting pot of different cultures coming together to create this community we all know and love.’ Debbie has been the manager here for over nine years, and it’s just one of many 50 Finchley Community

jobs she has had throughout her life, from being a Sunday school teacher, to working in a launderette, to being a mum and wife. So what is it about this Oxfam shop that Debbie loves so much? ‘Every day is different, and there is always a surprise around every corner. You never know what donations you’re going to receive, whether it’s going to be a busy or quiet day, or who is going to walk through that door. But that’s what makes the job so exciting and enjoyable; It’s nice to come into work and see what joys and challenges the day might bring.’ Oxfam is a charity that aims to support people around the world, and in some respects, Oxfam Finchley could be considered as a place that aims to support the local community. It has solidified itself as a place where people can come, not just to browse and buy, but where they can ask for help and

oxfam advice, share their stories with us, or tell us about something going on in their life. This Oxfam is a place where people intend to come to shop, but then end up striking up a conversation and sharing their stories. Elderly people, or people who live alone, might come into our shop just to have a chat with someone, and this chat might be the only social interaction they’ll have that day. But knowing that there are people who are happy to lend an ear is what keeps them coming back. Other customers might come into our shop just to ask for help or advice, and in one particular case, Debbie recalls speaking with a woman who was having problems at home and came in as she desperately needed help and had no-one else to turn to. But on a more positive note, there have been many heart-warming stories that customers


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have shared with us, from weddings, to a new birth in the family, to letting us know that their diagnosis came back negative and they are now officially illness free! What starts out as just a one-off shopping trip quite often turns into something more regular for these customers, as they regale us with stories of their life. However, it’s not just our customers that we support, it’s our volunteers too! We have helped many people build their confidence and life skills, improve their language skills and give them the tools needed to get a job and improve their lives. No matter how big or small our support may be, one thing’s for sure ― the support we can give is immeasurable. n Would you like to volunteer for Oxfam? Contact Debbie on 020 8343 4872 or visit the shop and pick up an application form.

WOMEN! DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ICING ON YOUR CAKE? Why not join the Women’s Institute? It is the UK’s largest women’s membership organisation. The WI offers all women over the age of 18 the chance to connect with their local community in a friendly and inclusive space.

Meet new people, make new friends, and enjoy a variety of activities. We have inspirational speakers, crafting, books, walking, garden, theatre and cinema visits to name a few! Do you want to campaign on issues, locally or nationally or learn new skills and revise old ones? Finchley WI is here to inspire you! We meet on the second Wednesday of every month except August, in Stephens House & Gardens (17 East End Road, N3 3QE) at 8pm. Come along and take a look; in the meantime, you can find more information on