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Local news reporting for Islington Gazette/Islington Now

New Islington book club campaign to tackle loneliness Published by the Islington Gazette

A campaign to tackle loneliness during lockdown has been launched from Tollington Park through the promotion of book clubs.

Generation Book Club aims to bring younger and older generations together and make new connections within their area.

Louie Freeman-Bassett, the Islington resident who launched the initiative, said: “People who are feeling lonely can see on the website if there’s a local book club near them, and get in touch.

“The main point is to let people who are feeling isolated know that there is a book club nearby that’s welcoming and friendly and might be able to help.”

A recent government survey found nearly one third of participants reported their wellbeing had been affected due to loneliness during the first lockdown.

Generation Book Club has around 20 clubs already pledged to be part of the campaign - four of whom are based in London - and is currently looking to add to its growing network.

Neighbours form group to lobby for Tollington LTN Published by the Islington Gazette

A group of Tollington residents have come together to lobby for a controversial low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in their area.

They are calling for Tollington Park to be closed to through-traffic as part of Islington Council’s new LTNs, dubbed People Friendly Streets.

The first People Friendly Streets scheme was introduced in St Peter’s in early July, with the aim of making streets less polluted for pedestrians and cyclists and to aid social distancing.

However, the divisive schemes have sparked ongoing large-scale protests over a lack of prior consultation, access issues and the knock-on impact on congestion.

The Tollington Park community group began as a Whatsapp group of 27 locals and was created for residents to stay connected during the first lockdown.

The issue was initially raised when national travel restrictions saw lighter traffic from March and from there, nine people formed a Tollington Park Traffic subgroup to specifically lobby for the LTN incentive.

A member of the resident group has asked to remain anonymous after claiming they have received threatening and aggressive attacks by anti-LTN protestors.

They said: “Our road is residential and narrow, with parked cars on both sides. It has a nursery, a primary school and a secondary school on it, plus several churches that provide creches.

“But it has a huge amount of traffic thundering down it.

“It also has a lot of property [...] that's crumbling due to the vibrations from all the heavy traffic. It could be an ideal route for a cycle quietway, but at the moment it's far too intimidating to cycle down.”

The group has met with local councillors and traffic engineers and said it has received a positive reception at Islington Council.

A council spokesperson said LTNs are “to ensure through-traffic uses the most appropriate roads and discourage/prevent it using residential roads while maintaining local access.

“This can be done with low-cost measures such as planters as well as pavement build-outs.”

Islington Council is currently considering its People Friendly Streets scheme area by area, but the community group is worried the council may “run out of momentum and political capital” before it reaches Tollington.

Food bank creates festive hampers of wine, chocolates and board games Published by Islington Now

A food bank organised by Kings Cross Church (KXC) plans to hand out Christmas hampers containing wine, chocolates, and board games alongside essential items over the festive period.

Operating out of St. Saviour’s Church in Tollington since the beginning of the first lockdown, the food bank usually delivers non-perishable foods such as pasta, rice, tea, coffee, and cereal each week to individuals, couples, and families. KXC says that it expects a rise in demand over the holidays.

They are preparing additional provisions for households affected by pandemic-related hardships on top of the extra costs of the Christmas period, and hope to spread some extra Christmas cheer.

Food bank manager at Kings Cross Church, Zach Gain, said: “We’re putting together hampers at the moment for all of our recipients. Because it will be a one-off, we’re getting in some really nice fresh food, and for families, chocolate, board games, a pack of vino, […] and Christmas cards. Within that, we’ll also give them a few week’s worth of supplies, […] so that they don’t need to worry at all over Christmas about getting food.”

He continued: “I’d rather be prepared for a big increase of about 30% than not prepared for it. Pre-covid, food-bank usage does rise over winter because of the expenses of energy bills – also you do have people spending more around Christmas.”

Established at the beginning of the first lockdown, the KXC food bank has 36 volunteers in total – 19 of which deliver the food packages by bike – and is currently assisting 34 households.

Recent analysis released by Trussell Trust forecasted a 60% increase in food parcels needed across the UK from October to December this year, with six parcels given out every minute.

Gain and his team at KXC seem confident in the help available in the community during this time. “There’ll be plenty of services running around Islington for people who really do need an extra service”, he said. “We have enough funding, food and volunteers to not hold back with generosity.”


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