Free swimming lessons for the summer, vaccine pop-ups this weekend, and loads of fun activities for the family

Living in Havering masthead with Sapphire centre at night

Friday 23 July 2021  

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I'm delighted that Havering Council has committed to 60,000 free swims for all school-aged children and young adults living in the borough during school holidays until the end of summer 2022.

Leader by pool at Harrow Lodge Leisure ctr

School children have been impacted throughout the pandemic, with lessons interrupted, social interactions limited and a reduction in sport and physical activity.

Free swimming is an opportunity to keep our younger residents fit and healthy during this summer, and future school holidays.

As a young person, I attended local swimming clubs in Havering. The sense of team work, fitness and fulfilment has had a positive impact on my life and I very much hope this new initiative will inspire the next generation to be active throughout their lives.

Leisure is at the forefront of the Council’s ambition and I hope that many residents will find this scheme of help in keeping younger family members occupied during the holidays.

It's also another example of Havering Council's investment in wonderful new leisure facilities across the borough. Read more about this below.

Please do your bit by continuing to observe the Hands, Face, Space guidance when visiting any of Havering Council's buildings - including our leisure centres.

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It is down to us to try and protect each other from the spread of the virus.

So we must get vaccinated, test regularly, continue to wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces, and keep rooms well ventilated.

Remember that it remains a legal requirement to self-isolate when positive with COVID-19 or when contacted by NHS test and trace. 

See below for more details on vaccinations and testing in Havering. 

If you want to contact me directly, you can email me.

Cllr Damian White

Leader, Havering Council 

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Free swimming

Sapphire swimming pool

Havering Council is offering free swimming sessions for school-aged children and young adults until summer 2022.

The free swimming sessions are available to be booked in advance at Sapphire Ice and Leisure (pictured), Central Park Leisure Centre, and the recently opened Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre, complete with a 25-metre, eight-lane swimming pool and a 20-metre-wide learning and diving pool.

For full details on how to book a free swim session for a child, please visit the link below. 


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Easy jabs

vaccine walk in 23 24 july final

You can get your COVID-19 vaccine at walk-in clinics at sites in Havering this weekend, as local GPs again run walk-in sessions to meet the demand for vaccines.

People under 40 years of age and pregnant ladies of any age should attend either today or Saturday when the Pfizer vaccine is available. Guidance on who should get which jab can be found in our FAQs.

Young male getting vaccinated

You will be asked your name, date of birth and postcode, and it would help if you can provide your NHS number.

If you aren’t able to join the walk-in clinics this weekend, the North East London Health and Care Partnership has published a list of all the places in Havering, and in neighbouring London boroughs, where you can get vaccinated close to your home.

You can also still book appointments online using the national booking system, or by calling 119.

To find out more about the vaccine, visit the vaccine facts website.


Win a signed shirt

West Ham Utd shirt

The NHS in North East London and West Ham United Football Club have joined forces to offer someone in North East London the chance to win a new West Ham shirt signed by the team. 

To be in with a chance of winning, you need to have had a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, and post a picture, video or message to Twitter saying that you have had your jab.

It could be you saying why you had it and how it went, a picture outside a vaccination centre, or you enjoying being out now you are vaccinated. It’s up to you. Anyone who has been vaccinated already or gets their first dose of the vaccine by the end of July can enter. 

Just include the hashtags #Ihadmyjab and #WestHamComp in the Tweet. The NHS will select the winner at random from the entrants after 31 July 2021.

Get tested quick

swab testing

COVID-19 is still with us, and infection rates have shot up in recent weeks in Havering as our weekly COVID-19 report shows.

To help make sure you're not passing on COVID-19 without knowing, regular, twice-weekly rapid testing for people without symptoms is available for everyone in Havering.

You should still use testing even if you have had one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

You can order a test kit online or pick one up from many places in Havering. Find your nearest testing site and collection point.

If you aren't sure how to do a rapid test at home, visit one of these centres first and be shown by the professionals. You can then take a test kit home with you to use in subsequent weeks. 


Have symptoms?

It remains vitally important to book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

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Pick of the bunch

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There's still time to enter this year's Havering in Bloom competition.

By taking part, you will be helping to make the borough a bright and attractive place to live, work, visit and go to school.

There are six categories for you to choose from ranging from 'Best Front Garden' to 'Tallest Sunflower'. There is also an award for best school display.

The closing date for entries is 10 September 2021. Entries can be submitted by email.

Judging will be completed at the end of September and the winners will be announced shortly afterwards.


Rubbish collections

waste recycling lorry

Coronavirus is still having an impact on Havering’s waste collection service.

With large numbers of residents still working from home, more waste is being produced by many households. This means more trips to unload trucks and the need for more resources to cover the same number of homes.

Staff shortages as a result of having to isolate after being pinged by contact tracing, as well as competition with other companies for HGV drivers, has also seen a knock-on effect.

This has meant that some household waste collections have been missed on more than one occasion and we are sorry that residents may not be getting the service they should.

Havering Council is working hard with its waste collection contractor, Serco, to address these issues and do all we can to return our services to normal.

This includes getting some replacement vehicles which are set to arrive in the coming weeks.

A daily report of any uncollected roads is published on our website. If your collection is missed, you should check the website first before contacting the Council. If it's not there, please report your missed collection online. 

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Next time you pass the now closed TSB bank branch at 182 Main Road in Gidea Park take a look at the circular green and white plaque on the wall (pictured).

Main Road old bank Gidea Park

It will tell you that the old bank building stands on the site of a house in which one of the most famous of English landscape gardeners, Humphry Repton lived.

Humphry, (and that is the correct spelling), lived from 1752 until 1818. He is often regarded as the successor to Capability Brown.

He lived in a modest cottage in Hare Street (the old name for Main Road).

In 1788, aged 36 and with four children and no secure income, he hit on the idea of combining his sketching skills with his limited experience of laying out grounds to become a 'landscape gardener'. He prospered as many rich landowners loved his work.

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His legacy includes gardens at Woburn Abbey, Blaise Castle, Stoneleigh Abbey and the central gardens in Russell Square, the centrepiece of the Bloomsbury development.

A number of local roads in Gidea Park are named after him including Repton Avenue, Repton Gardens and Repton Drive. 

Just a couple of minutes' walk from Humphry Repton's home is another Havering Hidden Gem. 

Cross Main Road and walk up Heath Drive and it is hard to believe that the tranquil and beautiful site below greets you if you look to your left, just before you reach Sycamore Grove.

Pools in Heath Drive

If you would like your photos or videos to be a part of this campaign, please email your submissions to the Communications Team with "Hidden Gems” as the subject line.

Ready for September

Transitioning to seconday school kids

Is your child starting secondary school this September?

With the schools now on holiday, many families may have unanswered questions about their children starting secondary school for the first time in September.

To support families with this change there's a new page on our website that will soon have loads of information for you and your children.

The page will include school video tours, information leaflets, presentations and more.

During the week commencing 26 July there will be information released daily on topics to help you and your child with this process.

Read more

Shark tale

Lark the Shark front cover

Everyone has a lockdown tale to tell – and that was exactly the case for Natalie Newman and her nine-year-old son, Henry.

In fact, the mum and son teamed up to tell a shark tale and have had such success that their first book has gone global. 

The story of Lark the Shark tackles the issue of water pollution and is set to be in all 10 Havering libraries.

Natalie, a hairdresser from Collier Row, said the idea came about after her son Henry, then seven, came home from school and said he’d been learning about water pollution and they talked about what could be done about it.

Read more

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The Reading Agency and Havering Libraries Summer Reading Challenge 2021 is a celebration of nature and action for the environment, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund UK. It's called Wild World Heroes. 

Children aged 4-11 can sign up now at any Havering library to then read any six library books of their choice to collect special stickers and rewards along the way.

This year only two library visits are needed, one to pick up a pack and a second to return a completed book review sheet in order to receive a medal and certificate.

Visit the libraries' website for details of free summer events.

Upcycling event July 2021

On Thursday 29 July, from 10 to 11am there's a Wild World Heroes children’s event called Upcycling and Living Kitchen. 

In this online session award-winning author Michael Holland will show children some great and fun ways to reuse ‘rubbish’ and turn them into new things.

He'll also talk about why it’s a good idea to reduce what we throw away and introduce the children to some of his recycling heroes.

He’ll also show some simple ways to grow seeds that are easily found in your kitchen cupboards and fridge into beautiful houseplants.

It's free to attend. Email to book a place.

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Children can also find out what the Summer Reading Challenge’s Wild World Heroes are fighting for, and discover some of the fantastic wildlife we have in the UK, in a free online Zoom session.

Explore some of the threats facing our local nature and find out what you can do at home or in your community to stand up for our planet.

The session starts at 2pm on Wednesday 4 August. Send an email to book a place.

fairkytes hand prints

The Fairkytes Arts Centre in Hornchurch is offering a number of summer workshops  for children.

Many are now sold out but there are still a few spaces left for a Tote bag painting session on Thursday 12 August, and for two trainer painting sessions on Tuesday 17 August (ages 8+) and Wednesday 18 August (ages 5+).

To book a place call 01708 456308.

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Havering Active's Summer Holiday Sport and Activities Programme starts next week. 

There are a huge range of activities for people of all ages this summer, from athletics and football, to dance classes and para sports.

Bookings and registrations are open. Visit the Havering Active website to view the events calendar and sign up.

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Looking to the future

Sir Jack Petchey and award winner

Businessman Sir Jack Petchey, the founder of youth charity the Jack Petchey Foundation, turned 96 earlier this week.

To date, Sir Jack Petchey (pictured with a previous award winner) has invested over £143m in opportunities for young people across London and Essex.

In the 21 years since the Jack Petchey Foundation was established, over 200,000 young people have been recognised with a Jack Petchey Achievement award and over 10,000 leaders and teachers have been trained through the Foundation.

To celebrate his birthday, his Foundation has launched a competition asking young people to imagine what the world will be like in 96 years’ time for the chance to win a prize of £500.

Jack Petchey’s Forward to the Future competition is open for entries until 30 September from any young person aged 11-19 from London and Essex.

Entries to the competition can span a range of creative means to explore this topic – including writing, art, videos, music, photography and anything else that explores the topic of a positive vision of life in 2117.

Read more or enter

Local artists showcased

Artist Toni Longhurst 2021

Three artists from New City College (NCC) Havering are featured in a newly-published book showcasing 48 of ‘the most fabulous urban artists’ coming out of London and Essex over the last few decades.

The book, called The Thing About Artists, has been launched by designers Brennan and Burch and celebrates all things creative in a mash-up of styles, including graffiti, pop art, illustration and photography.

Creative Arts Lecturer Toni Longhurst (pictured), Graphic Design and Digital Media Technician Scott Freeland, and Print Design Technician Ralph Overill, all based at NCC’s Ardleigh Green campus in Hornchurch, have made it into the book.

Their work is published alongside other prominent artists and was displayed at a recent exhibition and book launch at Fry’s Gallery, Fairkytes Art Centre, in Hornchurch.

Read more

Roads and rails

Road improvement sign June 2019

The A1306 London Road bridge over the A13 will be closed for inspection and survey work between the Wennington Interchange roundabouts until 5.30am on 26 July. A diversion route will be provided.

Carriageway resurfacing work will take place in Wren Gardens, Romford on 26 July between 8am and 5pm, and also in Catherine Road, Romford on 27 and 28 July, Berkeley Avenue, Romford on 29 and 30 July and Wilton Drive, Romford on 2 and 3 August during the same hours.

Heath Park Road will be closed between its junctions with Princes Road and James Close, and Manor Road closed at its junction with Heath Park Road to allow for sewer repairs. This work will begin on 26 July and may last until the end of August.

The Council's contractor, Marlborough Highways, will be doing some patch repair works on Dagnam Park Drive near the junction with Whitchurch Road in Harold Hill. Temporary traffic signals will be in use between 9.30am and 3pm on Thursday 29 July. On the same day this contractor will be repairing a manhole outside number 1, Elm Park Avenue in Elm Park. Temporary traffic lights will be used between 9.30am and 3pm.

Temporary traffic lights will also be in operation in South Street, Romford, near Roneo Corner, to allow for Essex and Suffolk Water work between 8.30pm and 11.30pm on Tuesday 3 August.

Carriageway resurfacing work will take place in Birch Road, Romford from 4 to 6 August. This will be daytime work carried out between 8am and 5pm. During these road works Birch Road will be closed to through traffic with diversions in place.

On the tracks

On the District line on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July, there will be no service between Turnham Green and Ealing Broadway. Replacement buses will operate.

c2c train

Due to Network Rail engineering work in connection with the Barking Riverside Project, c2c services will not run on the Rainham line on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July.

Rail replacement buses will run between Upminster and Grays via Rainham.

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