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We have secured funding for a new woodwork shop in Raydon Street. From this article in the Camden New Journal many of you will recognise Ricky, who is already involved in Carpentry at HNCC -

This is a new investment for HNCC - second phase is a new arts complex. This will be a new community space in addition to the new centre planned on the Bertram street site. We have done this through a new Partnership with the Conservation Foundation - look at this link:

A Space for All.
Our team has a wealth of experience working with children and adults in an artistic environment. We are passionate about personal service and endeavour to give our visitors a unique and creative experience with a friendly touch. Our aim is to offer everyone in the community a fun, safe, and creative space for children, friends and families to come and enjoy quality time together whilst creating wood objects to treasure

Carpentry Reparation Placement in partnership with Camden Council.
For the last six years Camden Youth Offending Service has been supported by Ricky Jefferson and his carpentry workshops for young people. This work is done as part of the community service orders young offenders receive when they commit a crime. These 'reparation hours' are compulsory, and have to fit two criteria in order to be appropriate; first, the work the young people do must make a meaningful contribution to the community. Second, the work must be constructive for the young person, helping them to engage with a side of themselves that can move them away from offending behaviour, and develop their pro-social identity.

The work that Ricky does with young people is an effective match for both these criteria. The furniture that the young people create or fix is given to members of the community who need it, and the bird and plant boxes that are made are given to appropriate centres or houses that would benefit from them. Furthermore, the work being done is engaging for young people to attend.

Commonly one of the biggest difficulties of reparation placements is keeping up levels of engagement in young offenders, Ricky's approach to both work and the young people themselves is effective at keeping them highly engaged. A calm and approachable manner, coupled with a good knowledge of his craft, enables young people to learn effectively from their activity, gaining not only knowledge of carpentry, but also developing good social and communication skills. Examples of the impact of the workshops can be demonstrated by way of two example cases:

• There was a young woman who was initially assigned to complete a different reparation activity, but was moved on to carpentry as she had an interest in that area. She was committed and focused on the work, and was given the opportunity to develop her carpentry skills thanks to the quality of the learning environment in each session. Following on from her reparation, she decided to go on to study carpentry at college, due in large part to the teaching she had received from Ricky. In addition, the bird box she made during her time on reparation was used as an exhibition piece at city hall, giving her the opportunity to feel real pride in what she had accomplished. All of this was made possible thanks to a combination of her own passion and interest in the subject, and to Ricky sharing his own passion for carpentry, encouraging her to get involved and develop her skills.

• As a second example of the impact of carpentry on young people, we had an young man who was studying at a pupil referral unit, and had a variety of learning and behavioural difficulties. It proved hard to find reparation he could do, as his levels of engagement were particularly low due to his complex needs. He was eventually given the carpentry placement, where Ricky managed to get him to start engaging. After a few weeks his behaviour started to improve as he became more comfortable with the environment. He was eventually able to work by himself and use his own initiative in a way that was not possible at the beginning of the sessions. The support and input that Ricky provided was very useful for this young person, even to the point that he wanted to carry on with the sessions after he had finished the initial hours given to him.

Best wishes to all
Andrew Sanalitro, Centre Manager

This poster was found tied to a bicycle at the top of Bertrand Street at the beginning of February 2019. Could it be connected with the punchbag support posts which have been attached to the walls on both sides of the People's Gospel Mission Hall?

Interior of Gospel Mission Hall

We understand that the Police, who have had a community base at HNCC, are offering these classes. If so, it appears that they will continue making use of the Hall during the rebuilding period. Does this also mean that Camden Council are reconsidering their plans to replace the hall by two town houses? HNCC's Trustees may not have the answer to this question so if we can get confirmation from Camden Council, we will add this information. See also, Mary Cane's letter on this subject to the Camden New Journal dated 14th February 2019

Anxieties expressed in Mary Cane's letter to the CNJ about potential damage to the walls of this ancient building are well-founded, judging by the fact that two lumps of plaster have fallen off the wall, due to enthusiastic use of the punch bag in one of the boxing sessions - see the additional Guy Ropes with hooks attached to each bracket.

Further damage to wall - see rawl-plugs coming away from the broken plaster

On Thursday 21st February 2019, we observed further damage having been caused, with the Rawl Plug holding the punch-ball bracket having come out - not just causing damage to the wall, but dangerous for whoever might have the whole thing come down on his head!

We showed this photo to Luke Joyce, Camden's Project Manager for the redevelopment of HNCC, but he referred us to the Fresh Youth Academy coordinator......

Update: 10th April 2019:
During an official visit to the Hall to view it as a prospect for purchase by the newly constituted Mission Hall Group, we noticed that the walls had been repaired and there was a free-standing piece of equipment, which looks like a punch-bag holder in - so this is progress!
We understand that the Fresh Youth Academy will continue using the People's Gospel Mission Hall until they are transferred to a new location at the end of May 2019, during which time we will be able to arrange more viewings: - see Campaign Meetings.

Message from Centre Manager, Andrew Sanalitro: 22nd February 2019:
The Highgate Newtown Community Centre is pleased to announce that funding has been secured and planning approved, allowing our ambitious redevelopment project to proceed. The new four story community centre plus two halls is planned to accommodate the following activities - in two years' time:
Ground floor: Police community room • Low cost laundry • Hairdressers and Nail bar training young people for work • NHS services health and well being • seating for 50 people
Second floor: Pottery studio all ages • Wood work craft space • Art and after school classes English maths for excluded pupils • Meeting room
Third floor: A range of Camden run services for children and families
Fourth Floor: Fresh Youth Academy - youth and families • Gym for all ages Two new community halls: 60 plus under 5s and activities • Saturday evening performing • drama • bingo • a mix of activities.
See link to post dated 20th February 2019: Redevelopment going ahead:

A number of HNCC members attended the meeting, together with other members of the public occupying Galleries 1 and 2, overlooking the main chamber. Below, in the chamber were those who had applied to speak, including Robert Aitken, Chair of HNCC (in favour), Tamar Swade, tutor of Pilates classes in the People's Gospel Mission Hall (whose objections focused on the loss of this historical asset), Lizzie Smith, resident of Winscombe Street (also against) and two Camden Councillors.

Written submissions included Tamar's and Lizzie's statements which they were also allowed to present verbally, sharing 5 minutes of presentation time, both speaking eloquently and coherently. Thanos Morphitis, who was not present had set out a substantial objection to the whole proposal covering (i) the loss of public open space, (ii) inadequate facilities for children under 5 with no access to outside safe play space, (iii) problems in traffic, servicing, parking and deliveries, as well as (iv) the prospect of providing a cycle through-route safely in the proposed plans, but scant, if any, reference was made to his objections, except by a member of the Planning Committee, who picked up on the aspects of traffic turnaround and lack of safety for children. She later abstained, rather than voting against the proposal.

After a great deal of procedural introduction and a lengthy presentation by David Fowler, chief planning officer, members of the committee crowded around to view a model of the proposed new buildings displayed in the middle of the hall, then the submissions of those who had asked to speak were heard (as above), followed by brief statements from those in favour including Luke Joyce, Project Coordinator, a lady who coordinates the provision of youth facilities, who was "excited" by the scheme, Robert Aitken who stated that the Trustees were fully in support although they would be challenged to keep alive the activities of HNCC, which were being dispersed to neighbouring venues during the building period.

The local Labour Councillor Anna Wright spoke in favour, although she had reservations about the traffic problem and the loss of the hall in Winscombe Street and urged the Council to explore every possible option for removing the hall from the scheme if alternative finance could be found. Councillor Sian Berry was concerned about density and impact on neighbouring properties and also spoke in favour of retaining the Gospel Hall for the community and asked for options for more affordable homes to be included, and was concerned about management of the construction process in terms of environmental aspect and conditions of work, but at the same time wanted them to just get on with it.

Finally, there were questions by members of the Planning Committee, which were all very lengthy - the meeting continued from 7pm until 9pm. Briefly, the conclusions were as follows:

(1) That the application for the People's Gospel Mission Hall to be considered an Asset of Community, had been AGREED, although it was made clear that this would not necessarily have any impact on the decision of the Planning Committee. NB this Hall is off-site in adjacent Winscombe Street, and we have been informed by Luke Joyce that they are planning to use it as a site office during the building - see also a report that the Police will be using it for Boxing Classes. NB a Save the Gospel Mission Hall Group has recently been constituted, and it is clear that much further work will need to be done by this group if this Hall is to be saved for the community - see Notes of Inaugural Meeting held on 14th February 2019.

(2) The overall proposal to demolish the current buildings and build one small block to house both the Community Centre and Fresh Youth Academy, plus two blocks of new flats, numbering 41 altogether, including just seven to be rented out at "affordable" rates, was AGREED.  

DRAFT NOTES (mainly from memory - MF) at 17/2/2019 which may be updated as a result of other contributions and/or further viewing of the podcast of the meeting:

Venue: People's Gospel Mission Hall, from 11am

  1. This rather hastily convened meeting included 11 HNCC members who had attended the Pilates class, together with their Tutor plus another member who attends two other classes.
  2. The context of the meeting was the upcoming Meeting of Camden Council's Planning Committee, and the advice we had received to organise ourselves formally.
  3. Those present unanimously agreed to the proposal to set up an organisation called the Save the Gospel Mission Hall Group, and all signed the document that Michael Ellman had prepared being a Draft Constitution.
  4. Nominations for four Trustees so far were received and approved, namely Mary Cane, Michael Ellman, Sally Donati and Mary Fee.
  5. Michael reminded those present to attend Camden Council's Planning meeting to be held the same evening at the Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt Street, London NW1 1BD from 7pm