A Christmas Message - Shirley Henry Stearns, Chair of Lewisham Tenants Fund
Wishing you a safe and relaxing festive holiday
At the beginning of 2020, we entered a new decade with hope and excitement. But little did we know that by March, we would be entering a new way of living because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year has has brought its challenges for all of us, many of which have been difficult resulting in sadness.
During these unprecedent times, Tenants and Residents Associations (TRAs) have looked at different ways of communicating with their members and keeping them informed with a virtual twist. We thank the TRAs that have ventured into the online world, as we have entered a new dimension and are forced to expand our thinking, our strength and our patience. The pandemic has truly been a challenge and will continue to stretch us in the New Year.
Having undergone months of social distancing and adhering to no crowd gathering rules, this festive time of the year will be an opportunity to highlight and build up the community spirit that has risen from the pandemic.
I commend those TRAs efforts to help the most vulnerable in their community during the pandemic. So many acts of generosity and kindness, notably, the Honor Oak Tenants and Residents Association (HOTRA) and Evelyn Tenants and Residents Association (ETRA) have worked in partnership with individuals and organisations helping at every opportunity. Both these TRAs have played a major role to the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the borough.
Last month, Lewisham Tenants Fund appealed to TRAs to consider using their community grant to spread some festive happiness. Christmas may not be like Christmas past, but it will still be Christmas. From the giving of Christmas Hampers with essentials, the lighting up and decorating of Christmas Community Trees, and the dressing up of Christmas lights to windows, we hope that the grant has helped bring joy and gladness in a different way by bringing your community together during these difficult times.
Moreover, despite a pandemic that have affected us all, I would like to share with you some of the achievements that TRAs have accomplished over this very challenging year. I would like to salute and congratulate the following TRAs and individuals;
Evelyn TRA’s work with the Evelyn Community Food Store. This Deptford community initiative continues to receive national awards for the work they do in Deptford to reduce food poverty in Lewisham. This month the Evelyn Community Food Store was awarded the
Jerningham Court TRA for making their aspirations become a reality by renovating an open and disused open space on their estate. They fundraised and applied to Lewisham Homes and the National Lottery and were able to obtain over £13k in grant funding. Work has been completed and the transformation to the area has been appreciated by the residents that live there.
John Morgan, Chair of the Honor Oak Tenants and Residents Association (HOTRA) was nominated by his local ward councillor for the Mayor’s Award for Volunteering. He was nominated for going over and above in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has involved helping his neighbours and volunteering through a local mutual aid group.
Samantha Dias, Peabody Housing Association Tenant Representative of HOTRA was recently appointed as a resident board member of Peabody. Earlier in the year, she was selected to be an advisor for Birmingham and Lewisham African and Caribbean Health Inequalities Review.
Samantha has thanked Lewisham Tenants Fund for the support we have given her as an active member of HOTRA and former Chair over the years. In addition to providing Samantha and other Peabody residents a platform that gives the opportunity for their voice to be heard. Samantha will start her board position in the New Year.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Fund’s management committee to wish you a peaceful festive holiday time. But let us be reminded to keep safe to protect one another and those in our community.
Let 2021 bring us back to normality and that your New Year will be peaceful and a happy one.
Shirley Henry Stearns,
Chair of Lewisham Tenants Fund