A pdf version of the news letter can be read here: Newsletter, July 206
Daniel Zylbersztajn (Chair):
Chair’s Report / Newsletter July 2016
AGM, Mela and Board Meetings
Our AGM was a wonderful day, though we still wondered if we get enough people together. We did just about, and our two independent observers Father Christopher Trundle and Father Peter Bernhard of Holy Redeemer, St. Mary Clerkenwell, at Exmouth Market were satisfied all went well and orderly, though they were at hand with some amendments we had to pass. Also there was a fascinating talk by guest speaker Alex Zika on the nature and value of free play.
Read my Chair’s Report: What happened to the haven of play?
Read Minutes of First AGM
CORAM’S FIELDS AGM
On Wednesday 13th July we attended the public AGM of Coram’s Fields. We were pleased to have been welcomed warmly and fully. Invited to speak in front of the board and guests, I said that we were grateful for the spirit of cooperation and good-will shown to us, and that we hoped, whilst being independent, to work side by side in partnership with Coram’s as the voice of the users.
Coram’s Fields’ Chair, the former longstanding Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson specifically welcomed us, and we were even mentioned in their Annual Report. The annual report was interesting, and it shows that Coram’s gets £350,000 from the adult pitch hire and £70-80,000 from the winter tent, and have achieved a profit of over £150,000 for the previous year. Coram’s have hired a new fundraising officer, who will start in September. In my address I argued on behalf of CFUG, that we hoped that this meant the beginning of the end of the policy of adult rental, as emergency reliance on the rental ought to be replaced with income from other external sources and Coram’s return to be a complete Haven for play for children. I also raised the point, again on request of the group, that adults being allowed to walk through the park, creates significant safety questions. The promise that adults would only be allowed if accompanied by a child remains clearly visible at the entrance gate. On the other hand, we learned that Coram’s had more programmes than most of us were aware, and it prompted us to suggest that more needed to be done to make parents aware of all that is already available, for example through an emailed newsletter. Coram’s is currently updating their website and our points were well noted and they will soon have a newsletter or update system in place.
OUR MEETING WITH CORAM’S
In a meeting with the board representative and the CEO on the 14th July, we raised the question of the cleaning of the park (litter and tree fall), and discussed the topic of park security. Stuart Woods, Coram’s CEO understood our points and received them well. He will examine a variety of solutions.
On the issue of safety, one option could be volunteer run guards at the gate, but he needs to set up a working structure. Volunteer participation is one of the issues specifically mentioned in their annual report, We argued that parents and carers and neighbours could help with regard to providing the man-power. Stuart Woods however stressed, a fair point in our view, that it was important to understand that children were not automatically safe, even without adult users, because parents, carers and childminders, themselves adults, also posed some risk. Parents and carers should therefore always know where their children are.
We also spoke about more sport, especially for older children and discussed a plan by Woods and Coram’s to improve the basketball area, whilst members are keen on volleyball, table tennis and athletics. We also handed over some vinyl decal stickers to Stuart Woods which state that smoking is not allowed on the grounds, a policy in force since over a year, but with not every smoker aware of it.
Minutes of the meeting are available here: CFUG-CORAM’S Minutes
AT CAMDEN MELA
NEW MEMBERS AT MELA
We decided to be present at the Camden Mela with a stall. The interest in us was mind blowing. People were so interested and we more than doubled our membership. Coram’s Fields wondered at their AGM how to engage with the families with a wider British Bangladeshi background. Now they do not have to look very far, and I hope some of you new members, Bangladeshi or otherwise are eager enough to want to be more than just a member, but could even consider becoming a committee member. One of the surprises was that! most of the replies from users were in line with the issues we had ourselves highlighted, in particular:
- Safety concerns came up as the highest concern followed by
- The Desire for more activities for older children
- And cleanliness of the park including its Toilets
- The importance of green space
Users liked the size of the park, the fact that it is free its green features and animals and many love football and varied activities on offer.
CFUG will become, we hope very much the community’s voice on Coram’s Field, and Coram’s Fields hopes this too. Coram’s is well aware that listening to the user’s voices ensures better and more popular decisions, through meeting the needs of the community more closely. They have already said that they want us to have say and input on step by step implementations of the so called master plan (we did let them know that many of you were not too happy with the speed and brevity of the past consultation), and now it seems we will have a say.
I am proud of our big first steps. This shows what is possible by asking the community what it wants and acting upon it. The process was painstaking and often frustrating, with a much debated constitution. There were hurdles and difficulties, but we somehow we muddled through, mainly because we all wanted the same and were able to hear each other and compromise. Starting from scratch, all the groundwork has to be done. Not all exciting work, but nevertheless important, e.g. Data Protection Policy, and other necessary policies.
There are a some things we all seem to agree on, and that is, whilst Coram’s is a brilliant and exciting place, it can grow into a Central London beacon of a children’s and youth playground, one in which adults are truly only allowed to enter in accompanied by a child, a haven for play, the one that can survive another 80 years, providing for new generations!
FUTURE OF NEWSLETTER
We will have members section of stories on Coram’s, poems, items for sale, exchange can be advertised here. Also we will accept advertisements of teachers for a fee. The next newsletter should come out end of September, beginning of October 2016
We will resume in September. Please never stop letting us know of urgent or general issues you have, even during the summer months.
One behalf of the committee,
have a wonderful break and in fact wonderful summer days at Coram’s Fields from all of us.
Daniel Zylbersztajn (Chair)