Gazette letters: Benefits of nature, rebuilding and Santa Run

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.

Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney, writes:

I was interested to read about the experience of Brenda Christy in last week’s Hackney Gazette (“Block told to move out for bulldozers”, .

I understand that regeneration plans can be stressful for residents, and that’s why we always aim to make sure that existing tenants – all of whom are guaranteed a new, modern, high-quality council home at the same rent and with the same tenancy conditions – only have to move once into their permanent home.

Mrs Christy was offered this opportunity – into an already completed flat just 100m from her current home – but decided to stay in her current property. She retains her rights, and our dedicated team will continue to work closely with her to support her into a new home in the next phase of the development.

It’s worth remembering why we’re demolishing and rebuilding blocks like Marian Court, across Hackney. There are 13,000 families on our housing waiting list, and 3,000 of those – many with children – living in hostels and B&Bs. Our 4,000-home regeneration programme won’t just replace flats that are beyond repair – it will increase the amount of social housing available so we can help some of those families.

And because we’re building and managing these homes ourselves, rather than selling off swaths of land to private developers, any affected residents will continue to be council tenants with the same rights, and with leaseholders offered a fair deal for their home.

We’d like to do so much more, and we’ll continue to press the government for reforms that will allow us to unleash a new generation of council housing.

Join our charity in Victoria Park for annual Santa Run, writes Kelly Boston, MS Trust community fundraiser.

Thousands of Santas will descend on Victoria Park on December 3 for the Do It For Charity Santa Run, in a bid to raise funds for their chosen charity.

This is your chance to join them as part of the MS Trust’s team and raise funds to help support the 100,000 people in the UK living with MS.

It’s all about taking part, not winning, so you can run, jog or walk the wheelchair- and pram-friendly route. This event is perfect for families, individuals and corporate teams – you can even bring the dog!

Registration fee is just £25 (£10 for children aged eight to 16).

The money raised will help the MS Trust to continue to support the 100,000 people living in the UK with MS – we believe no one has to manage MS alone. So don your red suit and white beard this December and join us to make a difference for people living with MS.

For more information please visit or call me on 01462 476707.