Author Archives: Prabhat Vaze

Find out about Air Quality in Belsize

What has lockdown meant for air pollution in London, and how does air quality in NW3 compare to other areas?

In this interactive virtual Q&A session, Camden’s air quality officer Tom Parkes will present the results of last year’s volunteer-led air quality monitoring project in Belsize Park and will describe the current situation for air pollution in Camden amidst the second national lockdown, as well as updating on the Council’s ambitions for achieving the World Health Organization air quality standards.

The event will be online 6pm, Wednesday 25 November, by Zoom. Contact for meeting details.

Belsize Air Quality – Questions and Answers

The survey was funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy and Belsize Society was supported by Camden Council’s Air Quality Officers, to whom we owe our thanks. The coronavirus lockdown meant we could not hold the planned public meeting with Camden’s officers to discuss the survey results so instead Tom Parkes, Senior Air Quality Officer, kindly responded to questions submitted by the volunteers: Continue reading

Belsize Society Newsletter: May 2020

Welcome to the Newsletter of the Belsize Society. (The whole pdf of the May Newsletter is here, but you can link to individual articles below.)

This issue of the Newsletter covers some of the activities in the Belsize area, responding to Covid 19. The Hampstead and Kilburn Community Relief Team started in March and has quickly grown to over 300 local residents/volunteers supporting their neighbours and communities. This Newsletter also give details of how to support the Chalk Farm Foodbank, which is currently requesting donations of food and supplies, and the Royal Free Charity. The Charity has been providing vital wellbeing support to front-line workers at The Royal Free Hospital, Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital. Continue reading

Essay: The Broader Perspective

We asked writer and philosopher Alain de Botton for something to inspire us in these difficult and unusual times.

At some point in the 1650s, the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal jotted down one of the most counterintuitive aphorisms of all time: ‘The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room.’

Really? Surely having to stay quietly in one’s room must be the beginning of a particularly evolved kind of psychological torture? What could be more opposed to the human spirit than to have to inhabit four walls when, potentially, there would be a whole planet to explore?

And yet Pascal’s idea usefully challenges one of our most cherished beliefs: that we must always go to new places in order to feel and discover new and worthwhile things. What if, in fact, there were already a treasury inside us? What if we had within our own brains already accumulated a sufficient number of awe-inspiring, calming and interesting experiences to last us ten lifetimes? What if our real problem was not so much that we are not allowed to go anywhere – but that we don’t how to make the most of what is already to hand? Continue reading

Belsize poetry

We asked Belsize poet Robert Ilson for some reflective words in the age of lockdown. Here is what he sent us (originally published in Ham & High in April).

At Liberty

If you step into the World today
Remember to use your eyes
To grasp the myriad shapes and hues
Of earth and trees and skies
And should you in a thoroughfare
See someone smile at you
Recall that to return a smile
Is perfectly legal too
And when your path brings you back home
Your freshened memory
Will keep you in good spirits till
We’re all at liberty!

The Winch Community Hub

The Winch is scaling up support and moving services online – working with young people over the phone, hosting meet-ups for parents via Zoom calls, and keeping connected with the community, whilst we all have to stay physically distant.

The Winch has continued to support many of the children and families already known to them with food, regular check-in calls and in providing extended school care for the children of key workers. Continue reading

Covid 19: Royal Free, Foodbank, Hampstead/Kilburn Community Relief

Hampstead and Kilburn Covid Community Relief team write:

Hampstead and Kilburn Covid Community Relief is a community led volunteer group operating a buddy system which has been operating on a ‘trust basis’ since the commencement of the government’s lockdown. We match volunteers with people who need assistance with the delivery of essentials such as groceries from supermarkets, collection of prescription medication as well as provide emotional support to tackle the feeling of loneliness resulting from imposed isolation.  Continue reading

AGM Report: First Society Annual General Meeting

The first full Belsize Society AGM took place at Belsize Square Synagogue on Sunday 8 March. The meeting reviewed a successful year for the Society.

The Chair reported on events that were organised, the continued role of commenting on planning and tree applications, and the publications the Society produced. The Tradesmen You Can Trust booklet was provided to members, who were also kept informed of local issues thorough email, the website and the newsletter. The Society’s carol singing and garden party attracted large numbers. Continue reading

Notable Trees in Belsize Park

A local tree expert and BelSoc member writes: Belsize Park has more different tree species than most people realise, ranging from native to quite exotic trees. The traditional planting consists mainly of London Plane trees, Lime trees, Maples and Ash and we can still see magnificent large old trees in some of our local streets.  Nowadays, many councils adopt a different planting regime; they favour smaller spring-flowering trees such as cultivars of Hawthorn, Cherry, Apple, Pear and Juneberry.  Due to climate change, there is, however, also a trend to increasingly diversify and plant more exotic trees from further afield in our streets. Continue reading

Latest from the Society

Camden Pollution Monitoring Project

Due to Covid-19, the planned meeting for Camden Council to report back on the results of the community air quality monitoring study in Belsize Park had to be put on hold until such gatherings are again possible. In the meantime, our August newsletter will present the quantitative findings for the 10 locations where we measured the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus some initial discussion of what we have learned about local air quality during 2019. As soon as we are able to arrange the meeting, details will appear on the Belsize Society website and will be sent out by email to the survey volunteers and members. Continue reading