Gazette letters: Nature’s benefits, thanks and Sotheby Mews

Squirrels in a box. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Squirrels in a box. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Will McCallum

Two young squirrels, stunned after a tumble, provided the week’s excitement, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Found by a colleague near Astey’s Row, they were scooped out of danger and hidden in a secluded part of the office garden, free from further interference. Our office manager’s dedication to protecting and nurturing the wildlife behind Essex Road is to be admired.

Beyond the very understandable, almost parental, desire to protect creatures more vulnerable than ourselves, there are other factors that motivate us to volunteer our time to care for the world around us.

This week The Wildlife Trusts released a report about the impact of volunteering in nature on mental wellbeing.

The result of a three-year research project with the University of Essex, the report showed more than two thirds of participants had improved mental wellbeing after just six weeks volunteering in nature.

The conclusion of the report was that “[t]hose responsible for public health, planning, transport, parks and leisure need to work together to make nature more accessible to people in their everyday lives”.

A clear call to our local authorities to make sure that when planning for the future, access to nature is prioritised as a means to improve the mental health of residents.

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Luckily for us, the London Wildlife Trust provides plenty of local opportunities to get stuck in yourself by volunteering at either of their nearby sites – Camley Street and Woodberry Wetlands.

As its report shows, we could all do with spending a bit of time in the outdoors.

I would like to thank the cyclist who came to my rescue on Monday evening, writes Jean Richards, Canonbury.

I was in Highbury Station Road waiting to give my son my Golf to drive to his football match in

Mill Hill when I developed a flat tyre.

A passing cyclist saw the problem, and asked if I had a spare tyre and needed any help.

He kindly changed the wheel for me and would not accept any payment. A neighbouring householder came out of his house and asked if we needed a pump. My son arrived just as my saviour was tightening the wheel nuts on the spare wheel.

My faith in human nature was restored by such kindness. The cyclist was my knight in shining fluorescent cycling gear.

We won’t leave out users of Sotheby Mews, writes Cllr Diarmaid Ward, housing boss, Islington Council.

We know Sotheby Mews is much-loved by many people (“Day centre protesters adopt Pink Floyd anthem”. We understand this, and we want to work with them so they play a central part in helping shape services at the new Highbury Roundhouse.

The new Highbury Roundhouse will be a fantastic new centre for the entire community, and we’re confident Sotheby Mews service users will be properly accommodated and warmly welcomed.

This project will also see badly-needed new council homes built in Highbury, together with some homes for private sale to help pay for the council’s contribution towards the new Roundhouse.

The views of older people using Sotheby Mews are really important to us. We will continue to meet with them to understand and listen to their concerns so their views can guide our decisions.

Sotheby Mews protest is about more than space, writes Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East).

Cllr Janet Burgess declared in the Gazette in May 2014 that: “There are no plans at all to close the Sotheby Mews Day Centre.” Sotheby Mews was apparently safe.

The council decision in February this year, to move services to Highbury Roundhouse’s new building, means that service users at Sotheby Mews have real concerns about losing their dedicated space for older people.

People have been going to Sotheby Mews for years and are understandably frightened of losing a popular facility that is protecting older people in Highbury from loneliness and isolation.

This is not just about a secure space for activities such as dancing, singing, hairdressing and a lunch club. It is also about the disbanding of a long-standing, caring community that helps many older people live independent and fulfilling lives.

The musical demonstration on the town hall steps shows just how creative, united and determined are the community of Sotheby Mews users. They are bewildered that no one is talking to them and involving them in future plans.

When Diarmaid Ward comes to Sotheby Mews I’m sure people will show him just what is being lost. Then perhaps we can start a different conversation that puts the Sotheby Mews service users at the centre of the decision making process.

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