International Women’s Day celebrates 100 years

Via a press release

On Tuesday 8 March the centenary of International Women’s Day will be celebrated worldwide with nearly 250 special events being held in the UK. So how will older women in Finchley be marking that Tuesday? Fifty women from North London University of the Third Age (U3A) gave some details of their plans for the day.

The women who took part in our brief survey are all over sixty, with some well into their eighties. Almost all of them have retired but you can forget any stereotypes of old women watching daytime TV and pottering around in their gardens.

North London U3A is about lifelong learning. On Tuesdays alone it has a programme of twelve different interest groups – including a science group meeting in Avenue House and a very popular country dancing session at the Finchley Progressive Synagogue. (If you looked into those venues on other days of the week, you would find U3A members engrossed in cryptic crosswords, bridge, jazz, history and more). You might also find a card-making group in the home of a member in Finchley or the film club getting together at the Phoenix.)

Most of our responses came from people who will be singing for pleasure on the morning of International Women’s Day. An impressive number of them will have a short breather after they have sung their last note and then take the bus to Finchley to country dance the afternoon away.

Those who spent their working lives as teachers begin again as students alongside people who were secretaries and administrators, social workers and advisers, press officers and journalists, dentists and nurses … They are all keen to expand their knowledge and learn new skills once they retire.

There’s not much evidence of older people slowing down. At least three of the country dancers are in their 80s and the majority are in their 70s. But it doesn’t stop there: people listed yoga, pilates, keep fit, swimming, running, walking, croquet and golf among their plans for the day. Nevertheless, some people will be spending part of that Tuesday in a hospital department for tests and treatment.

Whatever the ‘big society’ may mean, older women in north London are an active part of it. They volunteer regularly with community associations, groups for refugee and asylum seekers, literacy classes, reading to older people, on duty in community libraries and charity shops.

After all that, do they put their feet up? Well, only after their music practice, quilting class, lectures, committee meetings and concerts. And, of course, babysitting for their grandchildren or meeting their family for a meal together.

As one person wrote, ‘All in all there is little time for boredom!’ Some people will be at special events for International Women’s Day, but most of them couldn’t fit anything more into their normal Tuesday diary.

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Avenue House Estate in Trouble!

By Janett Durant

For over six years the Avenue House Estate Trust has run the Mansion and Grounds in East End Road without any subsidy from Barnet Council, although we have received funds from the Lottery and other benefactors to pay for capital projects, such as new railings and pathways.

The cost of maintaining the Grounds – around £80,000 per year – has been and continues to be met from income received from room lettings and functions in the Mansion. Last year two of our charity tenants lost their funding and had to move out – as a result we lost £35,000 in annual income. Two further charity tenants now face the same situation. Additionally, the economic climate has reduced our income from bookings.

We have sought £50,000 from the Council to help see us through this lean period while we reposition our business. Unfortunately, we have been met with a blanket No!

The Council classes the grounds as “Public Open Space” but gives not a single penny from the rates towards their upkeep. They claim the grounds are private to the Trust and therefore the Trust must manage on its own.

Unless we receive an immediate £10,000 by early March and a further £20,000 by the end of that month we will have to consider the process of handing back the estate to the council.

We have been told by Barnet Council that the Mansion could then be boarded up, with minimal grounds maintenance, or the whole Estate even disposed of as a private school.

We need a breathing space and time to find new tenants and develop a new marketing strategy. To do this, we need to make up a shortfall of approx £6,000 per month between incomings and outgoings. We are planning to reduce outgoings where possible, and to utilise the grounds more to help generate income.

Can you help to re-establish the Friends group, or join our fundraising group? In addition, could you help to distribute newsletters in your area?.

If you and your family want to continue to enjoy the facilities of the Estate please help now as time is of the essence by donating to our bank.

Our bank details are on the home page at www.avenuehouse.org.uk , or send your cheque made payable to AHET to Avenue House, at the above address.

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Mugging resulting in a broken hip and shoulder in N12

Police are appealing for witnesses after a robbery on Granville Road N12 on Monday February 14, 2011 at 18:40.

The victim, a 60 year old woman was walking along the road towards Ballards lane at 18:40 when a man approached her from across the road and shouted: “Give me the bag you bitch” and then grabbed the bag and pulled it towards himself.

He repeated his demand and pulled again hard causing the victim to fall to the flow breaking her left hip and left shoulder in the process.

The suspect has then managed to get possession of the bag and has made off towards the High Road.
The victim managed to get to a nearby establishment and called for police.

After being treated in hospital the victim told officers that the incident happened within seconds and she never saw he suspects face but knows him to be a black male with curly hair.

TDC Alan Horsfall said: “We urgently need the help of the public in identifying this character as he showed no regard for the victim causing her great pain and injury.

“A robbery is never acceptable, but when it is done with such violence that someone is seriously hurt, then it becomes imperative that the criminal is arrested, charged and prosecuted.

“Anyone who saw the incident or may have noticed someone acting suspiciously in the vicinity at around 6 to 7pm on Monday 14th is asked to come forward.”

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Avenue House to close down?

You heard it here first!

We are in the possession of a document from Avenue house which quite clearly states:

“We have been told by Barnet Council that the Mansion could then be boarded up, with minimal ground maintenance, or the whole Estate even disposed of as a private school.”

Apologies for the superfluous capitals but we wanted to publish it eactly as it is in the document.

The link above refers to our News Flash on the 8th February.

Charities – pouring good money after bad

One of the benefits of Governments and Councils no longer subsidising charities, is that good money may cease to follow bad management.

Like most people, I give to charity. But I have always refrained from giving money to charities that look like big business, have a poor management record, or are over secretive about their work.

I know that, nowadays, we are bombarded by requests for our money but the following should be born in mind.

  • Unless you starve charities who pay large salaries and start supporting smaller charities in the same field, large salaries will continue to be paid. One of my charities helps black aids sufferers and other poor blacks in Johannesburg – and the charity is run by twenty well off middle class white women who all work for no salary and pay their own expenses. They do a lot of good work.
  • Unless you examine how well the charity management is performing, and refuse them money until they improve, they will never improve. The trouble is, once the rot of bad management has set in it is almost impossible for that charity to be turned around and it is doomed to failure.
  • Unless a charity is open to the public on issues of whether it is political, whether it pays large salaries, or doesn’t involve their contributors in any way, you will never know how efficient they are, whether they are doing a good job, or whether they are secretly political – to your opposition party!

Charities have either become “big business” with corporate mentalities, or they are full of people supporting their king-size egos.

If you start being a little picky about who you support you will improve this trend.

A quick email stating you are a potential doner but you would like the following questions answered.

  1. What is the total salary bill of all the directors?
  2. Are your charity meeting minutes published?
  3. Do you support, or are you supported by, any political party.

might help you decide whether that charity is worth supporting. It doesn’t matter how much you might support the charities aims, unless you get them onto the straight and narrow, your hard earned money will continue to be wasted.

And, you need further information than just the salary. For example from Oxfam’s online report we learn their CEO gets £90,000+, at first glance this seems high but you have to take into consideration that Oxfam is a £300M company running in 80 countries. To me that seems fair, but I don’t support them for other reasons which I won’t go into here.

It’s a bit like politics really. If you don’t take an interest you get the sort of government that comes from a lack of interest. With charities, if you don’t take an interest, you can’t complain if you get a badly managed charity and your money disappears in an ever-increasing bucket.

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March events now released

Pam, our events editor is now happy with March events and they can be seen by clicking the link called 3 Events at the top of this page.

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Graffity Gerbal – a book review

Photo of the journalist; Pam TaylorBy Pam Taylor

I was recently sent a copy of this book by Stockwell Book Publishers who thought we might be interested in doing a review as Angela lives in Barnet. This is the first time we have done a review and hope that it will be of interest to some Finchley parents.

It is a very engaging little book all about a gerbil who has a tummy ache after eating a whole grape (rather larger than a gerbil’s normal diet of seeds and nuts). This all leads to Graffiti going to hospital and what happens to him there. The moral for children reading this delightful book is that it is not as frightening visiting a hospital as children may imagine.

Angela Carter was born in London and, as a child, was both shy and friendly. As an adult she is gentle and learning life’s wonders all the time. She was inspired to write this book after working as a volunteer in a well known children’s hospital and seeing many children arriving in a frightened and confused state, and mostly leaving with a smile on their faces. This inspired her to write a book aimed at putting young children’s fears at bay when told they were having to go to the hospital.

This book is due to be published on 2nd March and will be priced at £2.50.

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