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Harlequin Dame swaps panto for present packing, in support of the local community

The Harlequin in Redhill’s resident panto Dame, Simon Bashford, has been spotted at the theatre – but not in his usual outrageous garb, and with fewer antics! He’s been helping local charity Stripey Stork, who are using the Harlequin’s auditorium to run their annual Christmas campaign. Santa Stork supports local families who really need a helping hand at this time of year.

Simon Bashford is a much-loved part of Christmas at the Harlequin, playing the Dame for the past seven years. He said, “We are missing panto dreadfully this year, but it’s heart-warming to be back treading the boards – this time, helping families in need rather than performing. I’ve loved volunteering today and it really brings home how essential the support is that Stripey Stork offers – they will make all the difference to so many families this Christmas.”

Stripey Stork Founder and General Manager Nicola Dawes said, “Every Christmas our Santa Stork campaign ensures thousands of local children receive a new gift. Sadly the pandemic means that the need is greater than ever this year and we’ve already reached a record high number of requests. The Harlequin’s auditorium is the perfect space for allowing our volunteers to work safely. We’re thrilled that Simon could come to lend us a hand and see the sheer scale of the project for himself!”

The Harlequin reopened its cinema and café doors last week, with a fantastic array of festive films on show, and Christmassy treats and events in the café. Find out more here.

The Santa Stork campaign is accepting gift pledges until 18 December. Find out more about the campaign and how to donate here.

Surrey family support charity, Home-Start, to benefit from major Christmas campaign

Waitrose and John Lewis unveiled this year’s Christmas advertising campaign on 13 November, which – inspired by the kindness shown by the British public during the pandemic – encourages viewers to Give A Little Love to others and support leading family support charity Home-Start, and UK’s largest food redistribution charity, FareShare.

Home-Start Surrey is one of over 180 local, independent charities that make up the Home-Start network across the UK.

Since the pandemic started over one third of local Home-Starts – local community networks of trained volunteers and expert support who help families with young children through these challenging times – have seen an increase in demand for its services and FareShare has had to double the amount of food it distributes to meet the rising demand.

Home-Start Surrey have been there for families when they’ve needed support most. As part of a network of 180 Home-Starts across the country Home-Start Surrey have moved essential support services on-line to stay connected with families through their team of volunteers – staying connected with families, providing emotional and practical support, and linking families into other community services such as their local foodbanks. We have seen social distancing and isolation placing enormous strain on families. This support from Waitrose and John Lewis and their customers will allow Home-Start and FareShare to help more families in Surrey.

The pandemic has been toughest on those already struggling, but across the country communities have come together to support those in need. In that spirit of generosity, Home-Start is encouraging people to support Give A Little Love this Christmas by giving their time, money and voice to the campaign.

Waitrose and John Lewis customers will be encouraged toGive A Little Love in five different ways:

  • making a charity donation,
  • buying campaign products with 100% of profit donated to the charities,
  • using their loyalty card to increase the Partnership’s donation,
  • giving a little love to someone they know who needs it, and
  • helping in their local community.

Customer donations up to the value of £2m will be match funded by a donation from the John Lewis Partnership. A further £1m will be donated by the retailers’ shops who are actively partnering with FareShare and Home-Start and a range of local family charities in the communities they serve.

The adverts – which went live on social media channels at 7am on 13th November – were first broadcast on TV on the 14th November during ‘The Voice’ on ITV.

  • Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November 2020
  • 9am to 5pm on 21st and 9am to 4pm on 22nd
  • South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex

The South of England Agricultural Society is delighted to announce that its ever-popular Winter Fair will return to the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November 2020.

The Society and it’s Showground have been deemed ‘Good to Go’ by Visit England and so the weekend event, will run from 9am – 5pm on 21st and 9am – 4pm on 22nd November all within government guidelines to ensure the safety of all visitors. With this in mind, certain elements of the Winter Fair will vary to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures. However, firm favourites remain, and the event will offer the perfect opportunity to get the Christmas preparations sorted whilst enjoying a festive family day out.

Visitors can shop till they drop with a plethora of artisan goodies from local, independent traders. For food and drink lovers, there’s mouth-watering gin liqueurs, homemade jams and chutneys, gourmet pies, cheeses, wines and handmade Christmas puddings and chocolates.
For those looking for unique gifts and stocking fillers there’s everything from wooden toys, artwork, jewellery, lovingly produced leather and cashmere fashion, to natural soap, grooming gift sets, stunning home accessories, Christmas decorations and more.

It’s not just about the shopping though; families are sure to enjoy the live music, festive entertainment, and of course the traditional funfair.

For the protection of everyone at the event, tickets to the Winter Fair 2020 will be limited and should be booked here before arrival to ensure entry, and to avoid queues. Tickets are available from seas.org.uk and cost £6.75 for adults and £5.85 for senior citizens/students (inclusive of 10% online discount until 20.11.20). Under 16s go free.

Corinna Keefe writes: Most children have now been out of school for months. And while the summer holidays stretch ahead, it’s still unclear what school will look like in September. Many of us have turned to digital teaching to fill the gap — but online classes are a new experience for children, parents and teachers too. If you’re new to the world of online learning, here are six tips to help your kids get the most out of online courses and activities.

1. Make space for learning
If you’re working from home at the moment, you’ve probably already heard this tip. It’s easier to concentrate when you have a clean, quiet space that is devoted to work. This helps to put you into the right mind-set.

However, it’s not always easy to find space, especially in a busy family home. So if you don’t have enough home office space to accommodate everyone, what can you do instead?

The key is to create a learning atmosphere. Experiment with different ways of signalling that this is ‘school time’. Some children find it easier to focus when they go through the process of putting on school uniform and arranging their school books. Others might prefer visual clues, like setting a clock for the duration of study time, or putting up a sign. In my house, my sister puts a stuffed dinosaur on guard outside her door when she wants to concentrate!

If your child is very active, or likes to learn by doing, then you can try creating a learning space with a warm-up activity. This is when you have a ritual that always signals the start of study time. You could do some deep breathing exercises together or a quick burst of jumping jacks. Younger children might enjoy a ‘study song’ with actions.

Here’s a very simple example, and I apologise in advance because it’s a bit of an earworm!

2. Create your own schedule
Just because children go to school from nine till three, that doesn’t mean they’re sitting at their desks studying all that time. They have breaks. They travel between classrooms. They spend a truly astonishing amount of time getting out their books, sharpening pencils, looking for their coats and squabbling about where to sit.

So you should absolutely not be aiming for a solid 6 hours of learning a day. You also don’t have to stick to standard school hours. If your child is always full of beans in the morning, or likes to read in the evenings, use those natural tendencies.

3. Mix high and low energy activities
On-screen videos and games have an amazing ability to catch, and hold, children’s attention. But one of the difficulties with online learning is that it doesn’t reflect a normal class.

Over the course of a normal lesson, teachers will try to vary the activities on offer. This is especially true for small children, who can usually concentrate for about 15 minutes before they need a change. Back in the classroom, their teacher wouldn’t encourage them to watch a tablet for a few hours. Instead, they’d alternate reading time with outdoor activities, hands-on projects, games and classroom discussion.

The same thing is true for older children and teenagers. Although their attention spans are a bit longer, they still need variety and a mix of high and low energy activities. So they could alternate watching video classes with taking notes, trying practical experiments or building scientific models, getting some exercise between lessons, and explaining what they’ve learnt to someone else.

If this all sounds a bit abstract, try thinking of it in terms of the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Ideally, your child should use every one of those senses over the course of the day — for example, listening to an online class, using their hands for a craft activity, reading a book, and tasting or smelling a science experiment in the kitchen. Don’t worry if you don’t take in all five senses every single day; this is just to get you thinking about how to vary activities and keep your kids interested.

4. Avoid screen fatigue
Learning with all five senses is a nice idea; but, in practice, a lot of online learning depends on watching videos and attending video calls. How can you make sure your child is getting the most out of those sessions?

Video classes present several challenges. First of all, there’s no teacher in the room to call your child to attention or keep them on task. Children are also just as vulnerable as adults to ‘Zoom fatigue’, and they may find it difficult to sit up at a screen for long periods of time.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. Many children find it easier to listen for long periods if they have something to do with their hands: try giving them a Rubik’s cube, a heap of LEGO bricks, or a pencil and paper. While they are doodling or building away, their minds will still be working on the content of the lesson. Older children and teens will also benefit from this trick. If they don’t like the idea of toys, they can take notes or draw mind maps while they listen.

You can also help children by putting their classes into context. For example, if you want to work on reading skills, choose books which are relevant to the summer holidays, your child’s favourite activities or surroundings. Let them learn about science in the context of helping to cook dinner, or watching wildlife in the park.

5. Keep going
Once you’ve found a schedule that works for you and your family, try to stick to it. Most young children like to have a routine or be told the plan for the day. What’s more, consistency and repetition are an important part of learning.

We’ve all met a child who likes to watch the same film over and over again, read the same story every night, or sing the same song until it drives you crazy. One reason for this is that they’re learning. Even if you’re sick of Baby Shark, rest assured that your child is getting something valuable out of it.

If you want to encourage your child to remember or use something they’ve learnt, try to encourage this kind of repetition. Ask them to draw a picture about what they’ve read, explain the lesson to you or tell you a story about it. This works for older kids and teens too: challenge them to explain a new idea to you or make an explainer video about it.

6. Take the pressure off
Finally, don’t forget that we are in the summer holidays! You and your children deserve a break. Don’t worry too much about catching up on missed school time: everybody’s in the same position, after all.
If you’re spending time together and enjoying lots of different activities, then your child will still be learning new skills and taking on new information.

Corinna Keefe is a freelance writer and former teacher specialising in education, technology, digital marketing and online media. Discuss this article with her on Twitter.

 

Our plan for playgrounds

Following the latest government guidance, we’re preparing for a phased reopening of our play areas and outdoor gyms from the end of next week. We know that these spaces are hugely important to children and families living in Reigate & Banstead and we’re looking forward to welcoming people back safely.

Our Greenspaces team is working hard behind the scenes to assess all 48 of our play areas and outdoor gyms and putting safety measures in place. We’ll start by opening some of our smaller play areas and are hoping to open some of our larger play areas over the coming weeks.

On Friday 10 July, the following play areas and outdoor gyms will reopen:

  • Field Bank, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9EH
  • Flint Close, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9QE
  • Peppiatt Close, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9FR
  • Whittaker Drive North, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9FB
  • Whittaker Drive South, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9TN
  • Common Road Earlswood, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6HG
  • Abinger Drive, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6ST
  • Somerset Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6LS
  • Woodhatch Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 7PA
  • South Park Recreation Ground, Whitehall Lane, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 8LZ
  • East Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9EX
  • Battlebridge Recreation Ground, Frenches Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 2JE
  • Subrosa Drive, Merstham, Surrey, RH1 3LY
  • Brook Road, Malmstone Avenue, Merstham, Surrey, RH1 3NE
  • Howards Close Recreation Ground, Walton on the hill, Surrey, KT20 7QF
  • Beecholm Recreation Ground, Osier Way, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 1LL
  • Woodmansterne Recreation Ground, Woodmansterne Street, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 3NL
    Lakers Rise (play area and fitness equipment), Chipstead Way, Woodmansterne, Surrey, SM7 3LQ
  • Chipstead Meads, High Road, Chipstead, Surrey, CR5 3SB
  • Maple Way, Hooley, Surrey, CR5 3RN
  • Hogden Bottom Recreation Ground, Chipstead Lane, Lower Kingswood, Surrey, KT20 6RE
  • Preston Park (play area and Fitness equipment), Preston Manor Road, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 5FB
  • Kingswood Recreation Ground (play area and Fitness equipment), Buckland Road, Lower Kingswood, Surrey, KT20 7DN
  • Tattenham Way Recreation Ground, Burgh Heath, Surrey, KT20 5NQ

The safety of all those using the facilities is our top priority so we’ll be introducing a range of new measures that all visitors will need to follow:

  • If you or anyone in your household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please DO NOT visit any of our parks, play areas or outdoor gyms. You must self-isolate and book a test at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
  • Reminders about social distancing will be displayed. Please follow these and encourage your children to do so, too. We ask that only one parent/guardian accompanies their child/children during their visit to the play area.
  • New maximum capacity recommendations will be displayed at the entrance to each play area and on some pieces of equipment. Please respect these capacity recommendations. They are there for your family’s safety and for the safety of other park users.
  • Some pieces of equipment will unfortunately be out of action as social distancing is simply not possible when these are in use. These will be clearly marked.
  • We ask all visitors to continue regularly washing or sanitising their hands before, during, and after their visit to the playground.
  • For the safety of everyone, consumption of food or drink on play equipment or in the playground area is currently prohibited.
  • If you’re visiting one of our outdoor gyms, please follow the one-way system marked around the site. Please follow social distancing measures and continue with regular handwashing.

Cllr Natalie Bramhall, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services said: “We’re really glad to be able to see these spaces begin to reopen as we know how much they’ve been missed by children in the borough. To make sure we can keep playgrounds open, we need everyone to play their part and stick to these new guidelines when using the spaces. We know this can be difficult with little ones, but we encourage everyone to play as safely and as considerately as possible.”

Please keep an eye on our website and social media feeds for further announcements about the remaining play areas.

For more information on the new guidance, visit www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/coronavirus. For details about our borough parks and playground, visit https://www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/playareas

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has repurposed its Harlequin Theatre in Redhill as a community support centre to co-ordinate essential assistance for its vulnerable residents.

The venue will be used to distribute food, medicines and essential supplies to high risk and vulnerable residents needing to stay at home, as well as to those in severe financial need.

The operation is being run by an army of Council staff redeployed from other roles and community volunteers. The theatre itself has been transformed with rows upon rows of shelving filled with food and essentials, ready to be sent out to those in need.

The community support centre has three roles:

  • Supplying local foodbanks – local foodbanks are being invited to come and stock up, like they would do at a supermarket.
  • Preparing emergency welfare packs for vulnerable residents, identified through the Council’s various frontline support services.
  • Providing hot meals for those that would otherwise go without, cooked by the theatre’s and other catering staff.

The Council is also co-ordinating outgoing welfare calls to vulnerable residents and those who have contacted us needing urgent support, in what is a difficult and lonely time for many people without their usual support networks.

Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are helping to help fill the centres shelves, and traders from Redhill Market have stepped in to provide fresh produce direct from their suppliers. We are also in discussions with other food retailers and food producers, and local restaurants that have closed.

Council staff and vehicles have been redeployed to make the deliveries, along with volunteer drivers. Anyone who would like to volunteer can register with us on our website www.varb.org.uk.”

The Harlequin is one of 11 local community support hubs across Surrey’s boroughs and districts, working with the County Council’s central support hub.

The Harlequin is not open to the public. Anyone needing support is urged to contact Surrey County Council’s Community Helpline on 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), who can help direct them to sources of support.

For updates on the Council’s response, visit www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/coronavirus and follow our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook). If you know people who do not have access to the internet, please share this information with them.

For the latest health information for the public see www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Warlingham Park School has announced that it has been acquired by The Inspired Learning Group, a family of Independent schools and nurseries.

The current Warlingham Park School was founded by Stuart Sexton, former Advisor to the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in September 1986. The Independent preparatory school and nursery was established with the aim of providing primary level children with a curriculum that included an emphasis on design technology and IT and its practical teaching, while maintaining a solid grounding in Maths and English.

Over 30 years later, the school still follows the same educational approach while also developing strengths in the broader curriculum particularly in areas such as Drama and Music. Mr Sexton, who turned 85 in 2019, felt that the time was right to think about the school’s future and its long-term sustainability. The Sexton family have all contributed to its success over the years and wanted to see the school continue to flourish for future generations.

The inspired Learning Group was founded by Mr Amit Mehta in 2014 and has grown into a family of highly successful Preparatory Schools and Nurseries around London and the South East. The Inspired Learning Group are also a small family run organisation who are dedicated to ensuring that their schools retain their individual and unique ethos, identity and values. The news was received very positively by both parents and staff and Mr Mehta has held meetings with both groups to explain the advantages and opportunities now available to Warlingham Park School’s staff and pupils through the Inspired Learning Group.

These include: interschool events, networking, sharing of outstanding practice across the group and professional development opportunities; all of which will combine to further enhance the children’s education and breadth of opportunities.

Mr Sexton said, “This is an exciting opportunity for current pupils and staff and I am happy that The Inspired Learning Group will continue to build on our strengths of developing children into happy, rounded and articulate individuals who are ready to meet the challenges of secondary education”. Headteacher, Sarah Buist, commented, “This is fantastic news and we look forward to building on our current strengths such as our family friendly ethos, high academic achievement and outstanding pastoral care. Being a part of a bigger family will bring its own benefits and secure the school’s future! The ILG ethos is very much in line with our own; such as traditional values, forward thinking and ensuring that all children reach their potential”.

Banstead Prep School pupils are celebrating their success at the inaugural Banstead Young Artist of the Year competition last month.

The competition, launched at the Banstead Art Group Annual Exhibition, invited local school children to submit their own works of art to be exhibited at Banstead Community Hall between 24 and 26 October.

Banstead Art Group members were then encouraged to vote for the pieces that they felt showed the greatest maturity and understanding of artistic techniques. Visitors from the public were also able to vote for their favourite works.

In what was nearly a clean sweep for Banstead Prep School, a number of pupils achieved awards across the age categories. The children all received a certificate, prize ribbon and generous prizes of artist materials provided by local business Pullinger’s Art Supplies as sponsors of the competition.
Prizes in the Age 8-11 category were all awarded to Banstead Prep’s talented young artists; with Plant by Olivia receiving the first prize ribbon, Sunset Bay by Shreya awarded second prize and Kingfisher by Georgie taking third place. Georgie also celebrated particular acclaim from the public vote – which saw 786 votes cast in total – recognising her pastel rendition of one of the nation’s favourite birds.

For more information about Banstead Prep School, click here or call 01737 3636300.

All Warlingham Park School pupils have been learning about Remembrance Day and the significance of the poppy.

Each child made a poppy using a range of different art techniques from finger painting to sticking on various materials and then they created a special large poppy on display in the school.

Cornerways Fostering has come up with some answers to dispel common myths!

Fostering Myth 1: I’d love to foster but I can’t afford to
You do not have to be well off to foster children. Fostering is an amazing thing to do for young people, but it is not charity. As an approved foster carer you will be paid a fostering allowance, which covers the extra household and general costs of having a young person living with you, any special expenses involved in their care and rewards your work as a professional foster carer.

Fostering Myth 2: I’d love to foster but I’m too old (or too young)
If you’ve got enough energy to foster lively children, then you are not too old to foster! Legally there are no upper age limits on fostering, and many people come to fostering a little later in life, after their children have left home for example. On the other hand, if you’re under 30 but can demonstrate you have the experience, commitment and dedication to foster young people then you’re not too young to foster!

Fostering Myth 3: I’d love to foster but I don’t own my own home
Foster carers do not need to own their own home. Whether you have a mortgage, or are a private or council tenant makes no difference to your ability to give a young person a safe, secure and loving place to call home.

Fostering Myth 4: I’d love to foster but I’m single or gay or male
You don’t have to be married to foster. You don’t even have to be part of a couple! You may be male or female, gay, heterosexual, bisexual or asexual. It’s not your couple status, gender or sexuality that is important but your ability to meet a young person’s needs.

Fostering Myth 5: I’d love to foster but I’m not a parent
You don’t need to have had your own children to foster. You may have gained experience through caring for your own children, through caring for young people in your extended family or friend’s network, or through working with young people as part of your job.

Fostering Myth 6: I’d love to foster but I don’t want to give up work
Depending on your circumstances you can sometimes foster and continue to work. Many people manage to successfully combine a job with their responsibilities as a foster carer, and if this is what you want to do you should not let it prevent you from applying to foster.

Fostering Myth 7: I would love to foster but I can’t do it all the time
Fostering can be respite care for children, either to cover a holiday period for the main carer or regular weekend/overnight respite. You can also help a vulnerable parent to learn to parent their young baby (parent and baby placed together in the foster home) and these are usually short placements for assessment of the parenting skills.

For more detailed information, click here or call 01293 826830.