The Secret Gardeners of Southend-on-Sea

Google Maps, for some unknown reason,  doesn’t show the lovely oasis of the Cluny Gardens Allotments in Southend-on-Sea as green.  Don’t they realise that the Benedictine monks of Prittlewell Priory gardened there for 400 years until Henry VIII scattered them to the four winds?  The current King of the Cluny Gardens is Tony Wagstaff who is a Reparation and Community Practitioner with Southend’s  ISSP (Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme)…and, in ordinary language, a thoroughly nice bloke.  Since 2011 Tony has designed a garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show and won ten medals and awards.  Each year he takes a group of young people from the Early Help Family Support and Youth Offending Service and they create a memorable garden, some of which then go on to have a future life brightening up different parts of Southend.  In this podcast we hear from Tony and three of his volunteers, Rob, Curtis and Jake and from case worker, Ricardo, and social worker, Jane.

Future Hope: Coping With Covid

In Kolkata in India the virus is spreading rapidly through the city.  Many people are out of work and there are many newly homeless families living on the street with nothing to eat.   There have been two catastrophic cyclones and widespread flooding in the region.   The government is increasingly concerned about what is going to happen to the ‘Covid orphans’.  

In this final podcast about Future Hope we hear from founders, Tim and Erica Grandage, CEO, Sujata Sen, School Principal, Madhu Ravi, and Senior Girl, Jhili, who sang and composed the music.  We also hear from alumni Rajesh and Mintu, who was the very first Future Hope boy.  Don’t miss little Naitik at the very end.  You can catch up with all Future Hope’s news on Twitter or Instagram or on their website    They never stop helping other people to make the world a better place.

It is Mintu as a young boy who we see in the picture.

Future Hope: The Children

Education is a human right but one that millions of children are still denied. By providing underprivileged children with an education Future Hope School in Kolkata gives them the key to unlock opportunity; a chance to get a decent job, to escape poverty and to support their families & communities.   In Episode 2 of the Future Hope story we hear from three students who are achieving their dreams and also the amazing plans for the future from the founders, Tim and Erica Grandage, and their CEO, Sujata Sen.

Future Hope: The Early Years

There are 100,000 street children in Kolkata.  At the railway stations children on their own take refuge on lit platforms at night, hoping to protect themselves from abuse. During the day they make a few rupees by rag picking, working as coolies or in roadside food stalls. Many are ill and malnourished and often they become addicted to glue, which helps them forget the trauma of their life.  Over the past three decades the lives of 3,000 of these children have been transformed by a an extraordinary couple, Tim and Erica Grandage, and their team at Future Hope.  

Hold The Line, Advance The Line or Retreat…

Salt marshes fringe much of the world’s low-lying coasts and they provide the perfect natural defence to the battering of the sea and increasing storm surges as a result of climate change and rising sea levels.  A day doesn’t seem to go by without news of a further crumbling of the coastline so I thought it would be a great idea to talk to Dr. Ben Evans who is a coastal geomorphologist at the University of Cambridge with a particular interest in coastal wetlands and salt marshes.  

Petra The Shipwright and the ‘Cornelia Anna’

Petra Potasse is a talented shipwright…a rare female in a male world.  She lives on her beloved 118-year old Dutch barge, the ‘Cornelia Anna’, and she sails to where the work is.  Since she came over from the Netherlands 13 years ago, leaving a career as an English and Arts and Crafts teacher behind,  she has worked on several projects up and down the East Anglian coast as lead shipwright and as teacher and trainer, with the Mayflower Project, to a younger generation of boatbuilders.   For the last three years she has worked with Richard and Steve Wyatt at Bedwells Boatyard  in Walton-on-the-Naze. 

The Curse of Foggy Quay

The jaw dropping story of how the Mistley community fought back when a Sangatte-style steel fence was erected all along this beautiful old quay in Essex. The power of Pantomime!!! Never to be underestimated…there’s an interesting cross-dressing sub-plot too. 

Posh Bird…Rough Diamond

Laughter and unspoken tears in this podcast about the importance of prison mentoring and music! Thank you @yourownplace_ and @brittenpearsarts , residents and staff at HMP Warren Hill in Suffolk, extraordinary mentors and mentee for having the confidence in me to make this podcast. Being allowed to record really sensitive subjects like this is not a given, I can tell you, and I feel every atom of the responsibility. 

Miss Bayley’s Geography Class

(This is the last episode of Series 1 of ‘Changing Lives’.  Series 2 will start in September 2020)
Children across the world are being taught in a myriad different ways at the moment.  Schools are having to reinvent the very nature of schooling.  Some are relishing the opportunity and encouraging their teachers to be as creative as possible and some are not.  This is one young teacher’s story.

I include a few short clips from an interview with the Head of OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education in the UK), Amanda Spielman, with presenter Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s morning news programme ‘Today’ last week.