Twinning project: capacity building

I am just back from a hot, dry, intense week at the refugee camp working on this project.

You can see more about the exciting developments on the art side here, this posting is about the people and the research.

On arrival at the camp, the vastness is the first thing that strikes you. Rows of shelters as far as the eye can see. The absence of colour. The absence of signs of life. No trees or plants because of the climate. No landmarks, nothing holding up the sky. The single storey shelters spread over the undulating rocky ground like a carpet.

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You wouldn’t know there were thousands of people living here. No radios are playing, no groups gathering on corners chatting. There are a few children going to school, some people collecting water. A small stream of refugees trekking across the windy open spaces to the supermarket. It feels very temporary. Very un-owned by the residents.


The first requirement was to understand the dynamics of the place. There are lots of stakeholders (government, NGOs etc) and we were guests. We needed to play by the rules more than we normally have to, We met loads of amazing staff members and volunteers who put hours of effort into the social needs of the refugees. I read some of the English books I’d taken along with some teenage boys keen to improve their language skills. And some young women reading Dan Brown (!) on the tablets they have occasional access to were delighted to see the crowdfunding video we made and recognise the shelters.
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I will post pictures of some of the people once we have the permissions / clearance to do so.

I then got to meet the young people who would be working with us to implement both projects. That first workshop was a bit crazy! As you would expect, the children have been through a lot and find it hard to concentrate. Both they and the local staff were a bit puzzled to be asked to draw ‘joy’ – not used to working conceptually. We got there though – lots of calls for nature, love, football and things that ways to make a shelter look more like a home.File Jul 16, 17 28 44

From the group of 25 we selected 8 who would be the research crew. For a more robust process given that we were crossing a language barrier, using teenagers and working with some illiteracy issues, I had designed a pictorial research sheet.

You can contribute here and help train a researcher or get involved.

Community courses and groups at Besson St Community Garden


  • Gardening Club – Every Weds 1.30-5pm
  • Bee Keeping Course: 6.30 – 8.30pm Mondays Jun 29 to Jul 6
  • Sew You Need to Get Out More! : Every Weds: 9.30 – 11.30am and 1.30 – 3.30pm Sewing class
  • Emergency First Aid: 9am – 5pm Fri Jun 12
  • Paediatric First Aid: 9am – 5pm Fri Jun 5
  • First Aid at Work: 9.15am – 3.15pm on Fridays Jun 26 – Jul 17
  • Food Health and Hygiene: 9.15am – 4pm. Mon Jun 15

ESOL Classes:
Esol – Beginners Literacy 12 noon – 1pm
Esol – Beginners 1.45pm – 3.00pm
Assessment class 3.30pm – 4.30pm
Esol – Intermediate 6.30 pm – 8.00pm
Reading Group – Beginners and Intermediate 2pm – 3pm
Assessment class 5.00pm – 6pm
Esol Intermediate 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Esol – Advanced Literacy 12 noon – 1pm
Esol Beginners 1.45pm – 3.00pm
Contact our ESOL teacher for further details:

If you are interested in booking into these courses, you can contact Jill Mountford at, or telephone 0207 639 7605. Or book online.

More info: NXGT facebook page and website

A terrific year at New X Learning!

I recently attended the New Cross Learning AGM and have to say those people go from strength to strength. The diversity, inclusion and sheer stamina of the team is remarkable.

Over the Christmas holidays they will be taking a well earned break, but work won’t stop at the library. Thanks to a maintenance grant from Lewisham Council the ceiling will be replaced, doors repalightbox 2 2014ired and the whole place will get a fresh new look by the time the decorators are done. All the perfect compliment to the second Lightbox Art that was completed by Jess and co this week. The picture gives you some idea but pop in to see it for yourself. And if you’re not already a registered user signing up is a great way to support them too.

NXL Highlights 2013/14

Oct 13        Black History Month Black Panther magazines draw 2 ex-Panthers from the States for an ad-hock discussion and meeting

Nov 13       Big Book Sale plus The Auction proves to be a quick way to make money, attract more users with an increase in issue numbers

Dec 13        2nd AGM and Xmas Fayre. Kathy and Gill remain Co-Chairs as agreed at the AGM.

Jan 14        Workshops commence for the Chinese New Year, the year of the Horse. More Chinese participate this year.

Feb 14        LGBT month is celebrated with a showing of Broke Back Mountain, the first of our Pop-Up Cinema shows

Mar 14      Basic Skills IT Training course starts that is aimed the Silver Surfers. A most moving evening hosting 13 Palestinian women who told us about life in their country and what faces them every day. John Kirk’s performance of Private Peaceful brought tears to our eyes.

Apr 14        Ewan McColl remembered from a 50 year old recording with Travelling People brought to us by Mark Brown of Goldsmiths’. Another successful partnership with New Cross Free Film Festival brings famous director, Ken Loach to NXL.

May 14      Joined with Dig to help with Tomato Fest seeding Managed to sell some new books. 25 kids sat still in a cartoon graphics workshop.

June 14      Patchwork workshops and Gypsy recognition as the Roma Festival is held here at NXL.

July 14        The Lease is signed and big thanks go out to the Bold Vision Backers, especially Catherine and John who never gave up on us.

Aug 14       Mystery walks and picnics were even more popular this year. A brilliant trip down river to see the Poppies at the Tower brought a diverse group of people together.

Sept 14      Party in the Park was a promotional success with over 5000 people grooving to Punk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Reggae Blues and Folk music all day long. NXL hosted all the meetings, allowed the bank account to be used and did the printing i.e. put New Cross on the map.

Call out for a new Treasurer

After some sterling work over the last few years, our able Treasurer Stuart Bell is stepping down.
So Bold Vision requires a new voluntary bookkeeper/Treasurer to maintain day-to-day accounts and manage the overall financial affairs of the charity. The tasks take around 1-2 hours per week plus regular monthly committee meetings.
The key tasks are:
– deposit money and pay bills,
– monitor all cash and bank transactions including donations
– reclaim Gift Aid
– maintain financial records as required by charity and company regulations
– prepare monthly management accounts and cashflow projections for management committee
– prepare annual cashbooks and liaise with Bold Vision’s external accountant in relation to the annual accounts
– ensure appropriate financial controls are maintained and recommend new policies where necessary.
Skills/experience required are:
– experience of bookkeeping for small organisations or charities
– knowledge of accounting principles and financial reporting framework for charities
– good computer/spreadsheet skills or ability to use basic bookkeeping software
– ability to work collaboratively with diverse members of the community
– willingness and ability to attend regular meetings in SE14
– commitment to community development
If you think you might be able to help, or know someone who could, please get in touch with us

Panto time!

Our handsome hero wins the hand in marriage of a petulant Princess.   But that’s not the only story in our production of Puss in Boots.   There’s a lot else to thrill and bamboozle as unhinged shenanigans abound featuring preening Pusses, odious Ogres, Dames in distress, morose Monarchs, wily Wizards, flatulent Fairies and much more.

Our story was written by a local writer, is set in and around our part of South East London and draws a talented cast from the community.   All proceeds of this rambunctious panto go to good causes – Telegraph Hill Centre and Bold Vision.

See Puss in Boots at 7.30pm on 5 / 6 / 7 Dec, with an additional matinee on Sat 7 Dec at 3.30pm.   Tickets are £12 / £6.   There will be tea, cakes and a bar too, so come on down.

BOOK HERE   More details here

News and Events from Brockley Society

Brockley Society Barbecue, Friday 5 July, 7.30pm, 
Hilly Fields Stone Circle
Bring friends and family – meet others from the Brockley area. Some food and refreshments are provided – and bring your own to cook on BrocSoc’s large barbecue. All welcome!
FREE Taster Workshops at the Albany:

Interested in drama and having your say? Want to work with a professional cast & perform at the Albany?

Come to a taster to find out how:  Sat 6 July 10am–1pm & 2–5pm

Brockley Open Studios

Saturday 6th July, 2.00 – 8.00pm

Sunday 7th July, 2.00 – 8.00pm

Monday 8th July, 5 – 8.00pm

Explore the rich variety of art on show in our artists’ homes and studios. Discover the influences of Goldsmiths and Camberwell colleges, alongside more traditional work.  42 artists are taking part; works on show include sculpture, prints and paintings. Download a map from

 Mixed fruit hedge on Hilly Fields
Thanks to the work of BrocSoc’s tree wardens, the Tree Council has donated 40 metres of mixed fruit hedge – planted around the orchard in March. The hedge has made a good start, but  we need to keep it weeded and mulched for the first couple of years, after which it can fend for itself and give plenty of fruit and nuts.
We need  2 to 3 weeding sessions before the autumn and watering once a week if we get prolonged hot weather!
Email me if you can give an hour or two to help the hedge get established and I’ll forward it to our tree wardens
The next Catford Broadway Market is Sunday 7 July 2013 – Celebrate our first anniversary!

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Clare Cowen
Brockley Society

Brockley Street Trees blog: