iPad inspiration! Taster class

On Tuesday we held one of our very popular iPad taster classes with a trained tutor from the Mary Ward Centre. These classes allow attendees to road-test the iPad before taking the plunge and buying one. They’re also a great option if you’ve received one as a gift but don’t know where to start. This is clearly a situation lots of people find themselves in as we had twelve locals gather together in our Garden Room to enjoy the class this time around!


Participants learnt to access the news online, watch iPlayer and much more, as well as going over the basics like word-processing.


The world of possibilities out there can be quite overwhelming so there was delicious cake on offer to refresh the learners!


Plus the patience and expertise of our tutor which was much appreciated by everyone.


Thanks to everyone who attended for taking those tricky first steps with getting online, and thanks to Mary Ward for providing such a brilliant class.

If you’ve got the taste for tech and fancy more IT help, why not try…

  • Saturday morning Tech Buddies session – 10am – 12pm – receive 1-2-1 support with your device from one of our lovely volunteers and stay around for a bite to eat at our cafe afterwards!
  • Abbey IT drop-ins on Thursdays 11am – 1pm and Wednesdays 2-4pm. Bring your phone, laptop or tablet and get to grips with email, online shopping, Microsoft Office or anything else you might need.
  • And if you’re a bloke we have a CHAPS men-only drop in on Wednesdays 11.30am-1.30pm.

Hope to see you soon!

Dig it! Final weeks

Back in May, we were lucky enough to receive some funding from law firm Olswang – now CMS Law – to set up an amazing creative arts, gardening and education project aimed at all ages. The project aimed to engage everyone aged 1 to 101 in garden-based craft activities – fantastic for mental health as well as building awareness of conservation and environmental issues. And what a project it’s been!

In August and September, we held the following sessions, run by our Simone in partnership with lead volunteer gardener Maria-Elena…

  • Had a ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ session about healthy eating! Participants made an edible caterpillar out of green apples, strawberries and raisins, along with barbecue skewers of fruit and cheese – the food the caterpillar likes to eat! We also distributed copies of healthy and fun recipes to try at home.
  • Painted like Monet! We set up large boards in the garden and soon the kids, parents and older members were painting the garden in groups, sharing skills and inspiration. They were so focused that even when it started raining they carried on – amazing! A beautiful, peaceful atmosphere.
  • Made personalised pinwheels with colourful decorations which were soon being road-tested in the garden! Participants that week also sowed watercress seeds in the shape of their initials.
  •  Painted terracotta vases, planted pansies, and made giant tissue paper flowers!

We held our last session on 9th September. Participants were awarded with certificates and balloons and we all gathered in the garden for some lovely group shots:


Some wonderful feedback from project participants is below. Thank you Olswang Green Seed Fund / CMS Law!

“Really good, met other parents, great sense of community, and kept Freya occupied!”


“Dig It has been wonderful – we have loved the combination of art and gardening. It has been great for Alice to see the sunflower grow from a tiny seed to a plant bigger than her! She loved decorating her pot and planting her pansy. It has been very friendly and welcoming and the resources for the art activity have been high quality and the ideas good. Thank you so much.”

“It’s been great fun hunting for bugs in the garden and finding a spider and butterfly. Caterpillar arts and crafts are all going to look great to show to Grandad. Thank you for all your time and smiles!”

“Loved it! This is a lovely way to start the day! So much fun is had and it’s good to meet other parents.”

“This project is really fantastic because it gave me a chance to do something new and exciting with the kids. I also liked it because it included people of different ages”

“My daughter and I really enjoyed ourselves. The atmosphere was calm and therapeutic. Simone adds perfectly to the environment to channel in your creative side. She’s supportive and encouraging. It was a morning well spent with my daughter with no tech in sight! This prompted my daughter to engage and interact with others at the table.”

“Great! Loved it! I have never seen my 1.5 year old being so focused.”

Table tennis triumph!

On Monday 17th July, 24 participants of children, parents, both young and older players took part in a table tennis showdown. The night was divided into 2 parts, a doubles tournament for the children and a singles tournament for the adults. Dennis, Sam and Ali served as referees for the kids’ rounds and our table tennis coach, Hassan, kept the momentum going throughout the entire event and made sure everybody participated in the games.


The weather was hot was but the competition was hotter! The adrenaline was buzzing in the room as the participants kept playing nonstop until the final score was announced, each fighting for the for the table tennis crown!


The champions of the evening are listed below!

Children results:

1st place: Maureiss Perotte

2nd place: Azay Simmons-Alexander

3rd place: Danny Chakimova

Adult results:

1st place: Jamal Ali

2nd place: Sam Edwards

3rd place: Dennis’s is O.Ajufo

A special thanks to everyone for participating and remember, Abbey’s events are all in fun and good spirit. We’re all winners when we give it our best go and make the effort to show up and show out! Until next time… 🙂



Lazy day on-the-Naze

This month 48 Kilburn Good Neighbours members and volunteers enjoyed a beautiful sunshiney day by the sea at Walton-on-the-Naze. 


A smooth coach journey and distribution of Celebrations chocolates kindly provided by one guest gave everyone plenty of energy to stroll along the shore.


They enjoyed traditional fish and chips before going for a paddle, admiring the vast views across the coast and exploring a bit more, with the bravest venturing to the top of the Naze. 


Frank helped Jean get all the way to the top of the Naze on her wheelchair. Meanwhile Connie and Violet were adventurous and decided to catch a bus to visit Clacton as well.


Everybody enjoyed the day out to the seaside; we all came back feeling healthier and more relaxed after the fresh sea air, with a sun-kissed glow! 


Big thanks to our funders The Goldsmiths’ Company and The Rank Foundation. 



Can’t wate to go back! Afternoon tea at Wates

Last week the Recycle-art group, along with some of our gardening volunteers, were invited by the Wates team to visit their offices. As you may know, the group make beautiful and useful things out of recycled materials and objects, and recently turned spare Wates helmets into these colourful flower baskets. Wates are displaying the finished baskets in their garden, and they look fantastic!

Wates prepared an amazing afternoon tea for us with freshly made sandwiches and cakes, put together by one of their staff members, Denise.


They presented an interesting and very informative slide show about the construction development currently happening across the road from Abbey, and gave the group a chance to ask questions.

Everyone then ventured outside to continue chatting, admire the baskets and take some pics. The Recycle-art and gardening groups were overwhelmed with the welcome and were very proud of their displayed artwork.


The next plan for the group is to run a community art competition where centre users and locals create some pictures/collages with the theme of ‘community’. The winning images will then be displayed on the site of the new development to signpost to Abbey Community Centre – exciting! Thank you Wates for having us – we had a wonderful time.


Dig it! Plant it! Hunt it!

Particularly a hit with the kids, Dig It! is a gardening, craft and conservation project that takes place on the first two Saturdays of each month. Funded by Olswang’s Green Seed, we are so grateful for their financial support as without them Dig It! would not be possible. We’ve been able to bring this all-ages summer programme into fruition since early May and we’ll be sticking around (or digging around!) until late September.


Our July sessions have been particularly creative! The first was miniature-garden making, where attendees assembled a variety of compost and pebbles inside plastic, foil and wooden trays. They then decorated their garden trays with scarecrows and painted pebbles from previous weeks’ sessions. The task provided sensory stimulation and directly connected participants to the Earth’s soils, something we typically all take for granted. They also experienced a state of ownership over their outdoor creations, inspiring and preparing children to manage their own gardens in adulthood and reminding adults of the fun and less obligatory aspects of gardening.

In last Saturday’s creepy-crawly themed class, members learnt how to make caterpillars out of recycled egg boxes and went bug hunting! Some of these young’uns are a lot braver than me… I’ll pass on the latter thanks or watch from afar! :O

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Whether you’re a flower lover, insect investigator, nature fiend or simply want to make the most of the outdoors this summer, sign up for next month’s sessions!

5th August, 10-11am and 12th August, 11.10am-12.10pm. Free and for all ages. Contact Simone on 02076248378 for further information and to book.

Serendipitous moments at Saturday Tech Buddies

Our Tech Buddies sessions, where learners can drop in and get help with their laptop, tablet or smartphone with the help of a friendly volunteer, have been growing in popularity over the last few months, which more and more learners getting online, connecting to the web and its many possibilities.

‘I started the class as a novice; I was not expecting to do most of the IT stuff but my tutor Gavin was very patient and kind, he showed me many things, internet shopping on Amazon, searching for useful information, downloading etc on tablets and smartphones which I have never used, I cannot thank him enough. Life is really easy and enjoyable, and very occupied with doing many things on the net to amuse my loneliness. The IT class is tops.’


From Nelissa, who Gavin helped set up a Youtube channel for her spoken word poetry (she now has several subscribers and some of her videos have 100-200 views), to Elizabeth, who was delighted with her first ever online purchase, made during a Tech Buddies session, it’s no exaggeration to say that attendees have been able to do things on the net which they never thought would be possible for them.

‘I have been attending classes for IT, a subject I was in total ignorance of. If it had not been for Abbey I would not have any computer skills, a new world has been opened for me and I am very grateful for that. If this facility was not available I would not get out of the house as much. The project leader Gavin is inspirational, patient and confidence-boosting and I am extremely grateful for his expertise in a subject I was in total ignorance of but now have confidence in the area.’

Others have skyped family and friends, discovered online music from back in the day, and accessed job opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. The lady on the right is 93 years young – proving it’s never too late to get confident with your tech.


‘The IT class in the Abbey Community Centre run by Gavin is very friendly and inspirational. We have help throughout as opposed to going to the library. It has encouraged me to refresh my training in IT which I have not used in many years. I am therefore very grateful for that. A big thank you to Gavin and the Abbey Community Centre. God bless!’


As well as connecting to the web, attendees have also connected to each other, staying after the sessions to chat and enjoy the Abbey cafe (Saturday sessions take place from 10am – 12noon, the cafe is open 11am – 2pm). In particular, participants Elizabeth and Janet have become fast friends after making an amazing discovery…


Janet (left) was waiting to sign the register at the start of the session when she caught sight of Elizabeth’s name on the list. Her surname looked familiar, and after a chat the ladies realised they came from the SAME VILLAGE in Nigeria!  Not only were they from the same place originally, they also discovered that their families were friends and Janet’s father-in-law had officiated Elizabeth’s naming ceremony in Lagos, back in the 1940s. They didn’t know each other at all prior to coming to the sessions, despite living in the same area of Kilburn for many years. It’s amazing to think that they reconnected after over seven decades. They are now making the most of Abbey Saturdays, going to the cafe and on Neighbours 2 Friends trips with Simone.


So why not come along to a Tech Buddies session soon? Though you might not end up physically bumping into someone from your distant past, we can certainly show you other ways to do this online; setting up email, skype and social media, searching family heritage sites. Or perhaps you’d like to learn to shop or bank online, upload photos, become a Microsoft Office whizz… our lovely volunteers can help you do all this and more.

‘I have learnt a lot since I joined the IT class and continue to grow in confidence… I find it very motivating, the staff are friendly, helpful, understanding and make everyone feel welcome every time… I look forward to attending every week.’

As well as the Saturday session, we hold IT drop-ins on Thursdays (11am-1pm) and Wednesdays (2-4pm everyone; 11am-1pm men only).