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The Summer Reading Challenge Proves To Be A Rewarding Experience For Both Young Readers And Volunteers

My name is Simi and I am currently volunteering as a Summer Reading Challenge volunteer at Redbridge Central Library. I wanted to become a volunteer because I see it as a good opportunity for me to work with children and young people as I want to work with children in the future. As an avid reader myself, I also wanted to encourage reading amongst children.

At the start, I was provided with my own name tag and Mythical Maze t-shirt (which I must say, is pretty comfortable!) I particularly enjoy having conversations with the children about what they love about reading their favourite book. From what I’ve seen, some young children love it when they are asked even the simplest questions about the books they read such as their favourite characters and favourite part of the book.

What I find challenging is communicating with young people around the age of 7-9 years because they often lose interest in reading. I found that children below the age of 6 are more engaged in reading books, maybe because the books they read have pictures that relate to the story whereas older children read books that have less illustrations. So the challenge for me is to get them to maintain their interest in their books.

Working at the library provides me with a safe and quiet working environment and also a chance to persuade parents to encourage their children to join the Reading Challenge as often, the parents approach me and ask me to suggest books for their children.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is based on a “Mythical Maze” – and what a wonderful theme it is! Children love to explore and that is exactly what the word mythical suggests. It promises magical things for them to discover and enjoy. The great thing about volunteering as a reading activist is giving out prizes, often the final prize which is the medal, certificate and the last sticker for their maze. Some of the younger kids enjoy receiving their prizes which also acts as an incentive for them to read more books and get more prizes.

It’s always fun talking to children and young people and interacting with the other volunteers. The staff are also very helpful and encouraging. It can also boost your confidence and improve interpersonal skills. I would definitely recommend volunteering at your local library for the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge. As for me, I will definitely be looking forward to volunteering again next year.

For more information on volunteering visit the Libraries page on the Redbridge-i

Guest Author: Simi Menon 


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Last Man Stands end of season cricket round-up!

League Match Report

The final of the Cup will see Kerry Packer Clique take on Chakwal Stars on 3 September, while in the Plate competition, Ilford Knightriders will meet PAK Warriors on 27 August.

Come and see what Redbridge Last Man Stands is all about in this, the final countdown to the season. The matches will take place at Hainault Recreation Ground, Forest Road, IG6 3HQ starting at 5.45pm. Join the 200 or so strong band of spectators and see ‘Last Man Stands’ in action! 

LMS Regional Competition

The draw has been made for the regional and Chakwal Stars will represent Redbridge in the Regional tournament with their 1st match next Sunday at Barnes. There is support for all teams taking part with a chance to win £5,000 towards Barbados 2015 World Champs.

Last Man Stands London Champs League 2014 fixtures

LMS Redbridge organisers, captains and umpires meeting

There will be an end of season meeting on Wednesday 10 September for all Umpires, Captains and Organisers whether your team is currently playing LMS or not. This will be to review the season and discuss Redbridge Last Man Stands going forward. The meeting will be at Fairlop Waters at 7.30pm.

LMS Redbridge Presentation Evening

All current and past LMS players are invited to a presentation evening on Thursday 18 September at Fairlop Waters. Evening includes prize giving, guest speaker and special buffet meal.

Fairlop Waters, Forest Road Barkingside IG6 3HN

Information about Fairlop Waters

For further information on LMS or to confirm attendance at one of these events email

Post Author: Ian Selby


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Tazeen Raza Tells Us Why She Loves Volunteering At The Library

It’s safe to say that Redbridge Central Library has been familiar territory to me since I was 8 years old and I remember I had always envied the librarians because they would get to meet so many people at their workplace. I love meeting new people and seeing new faces so I wanted to do something that would help me to achieve this, which is why I decided to volunteer at the library.

I worked here in 2012 at the age of 14 and was amazed at the magical effects books had on children. I was pretty fortunate to notice the excitement dancing in every child’s eyes as they told me how Harry defeated Voldemort or how Sabrina saved the day. Such enthusiasm meant a highly deserved reward which was gratified with smiles that stretched wide and eyes that further lit up. It was amazing! At the same time I got to know the staff there so when summer sadly ended and it was time to go back to school, I would often receive a pleasant smile or a nod from the librarians who knew me. I felt like I had accomplished my goal in getting to know new people.

The next year I did not volunteer and quickly became thirsty to be in that friendly company again, to be surrounded by the over-excited yet adorable children itching to read. So at 16 I volunteered again wanting to know what changes had been made in my absence. Luckily I have been surrounded by an even friendlier group of staff and volunteers. This year I have been able to meet more of my contemporaries from neighbouring schools that I did not know of before and I really recommend volunteering in this way as it erodes any inter-school hostility that may exist.

So I have made new friends and have become well acquainted (also re-acquainted) with the staff. But the one thing that has changed or caught me by surprise, rather, is the increasing intellect of the children! They are so smart and at such a young age. The best example is of a 7 year old girl who had read all of the Harry Potter Books. All of them! How did I know that she had read the entire collection instead of the first and last page? Well, she recounted the entire collection and quoted pages too. Remarkable for such a young girl who will, I am sure, go far in life.

This is a great opportunity to learn an important life lesson: that we can learn from those that are younger than us. Being the youngest in my family, I never fail to point this out but it is great to finally implement it myself. I will always remember that little girl because of her great motivation to achieve her goal at the tender age of seven but, sadly, she will never know it (mainly because she was only visiting Ilford in her holidays!)

Learning is a vital stepping stone and it’s all around us, constantly ready to be taken in any shape, way or form and this is my favourite part of volunteering at the library. Be it from the staff, parents or even children, I have learnt key qualities including patience, perseverance and praise!

If you would like to volunteer, just pop into your local library and enquire.

Guest Author: Tazeen Raza

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The Voice of Volunteers: Zal Canteenwala Tells Us What It’s Really Like To Volunteer At The Library!

My name is Zal Canteenwala and I am a ‘reading activist’ – as a part of the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge. You can find me volunteering at Wanstead Library this summer and for the remainder of the year, seeing that I also serve at the library on weekends!

I struggle to recall the first time I ever visited a library as it has always been an integral part of my life, the same as it was for my parents. However, I do remember visiting Fullwell Cross Library as a young child at least once a week with my mum and dad. Then we moved to Wanstead and I discovered Wanstead Library where I used to attend craft or activity sessions during the holidays with my younger sister.

Since the library has always been a part of my life, it was an obvious choice for volunteering. I decided I wanted to contribute to my community when I was about twelve, but being twelve, there were not many places that were willing to take me at that age. Despite my ease with the library, I simply had no concept as to the amount of work the librarians undertake and perhaps as a consequence, I did not anticipate precisely how rewarding working at a library would be.

Dare I say I have acquired multiple skills while volunteering at the library – the most obvious ability that I have refined may be the way I interact with children. It is quite challenging to retain a child’s concentration for an extended length of time and therefore finding I have the capability to achieve this has definitely boosted my general self-esteem.

The absolute best and most defining moment of my experience thus far, was this Easter when I volunteered alongside Katie, and together with the Branch Manager, Mrs Bird, we made paper masks with children. That event was so worthwhile simply because we were inspiring children from a variety of different backgrounds – many of whom were experiencing the library for the first time.

When I was a child, I was a LEGO junkie, so I was really looking forward to the LEGO workshop which took place on 13 August. However when I was younger, I was invariably much more adept at breaking things than following instruction manuals, so I can only hope that the children found my presence inspirational!

I never cease to be amazed by the wide range of people that the library attracts: from young children with cautious parents, grandparents to adolescents who pretend to study (but tend to get distracted by their ever beeping mobiles). For someone like me, who enjoys interacting with people, it is the perfect place to be!

If you would like to volunteer, just pop into your local library and enquire.

Guest Author: Zal Canteenwala

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The Gardens Of Valentines Mansion Inspires Children To Design Their Own Crockery

From the small to the tall, from the greens to the blues and the buzzing of the bees and crawling of all kinds of bugs, the magical gardens of Valentines Mansion is home to many beautiful creatures and plants. I went along to the mansion’s creative crockery session to see how the children were going to use what they could find in the gardens to decorate their very own cup and saucer.

The elegant drawing room had been transformed into an artist’s workshop with cups and saucers all ready to be painted on. But first, everyone needed some inspiration and there’s no better place for it than the wonderful walled gardens. As children learnt that they would be spending the first part of the session outside they were bursting with glee – especially at the thought of being able to see butterflies! So, the children eagerly led their parents through the array of bright pink flowers to large green leaved plants, constantly sketching anything and everything that caught their eye. While the children carefully inspected each and everything they came across, I chatted to a few of the mums who gushed over the beauty of the mansion and the gardens and how lovely it is to come and visit.

When the time came to head back to the mansion, the children were already admiring each other’s drawings – all desperate to share what they found. Cries of delight and excitement followed the young artists all the way back into the drawing room. There were example cups and saucers all decorated in a typical victorian fashion for more inspiration and as the session leader Alison explained, victorians were known for decorating the inside of their cups too! So there certainly was a lot to think about and before going straight for the porcelain pens to design the crockery, all designs were first drawn on templates.

When it was time to start unleashing the pens onto the crockery, a burst of colour began to make its way onto the previously plain old white cups and saucers. Some children wanted to write their names on their cups and some wanted to dedicate it to their mums or dads! Either way it was clear that every creation was unique with each child’s own personality and imagination being expressed through the various designs and colours. There were small pink hearts that bordered plates, small little bees that buzzed around the cups and all kinds of flowers and plants that made these cups and saucers extremely special indeed.

The finished products needed to be set down to dry and as they filled up the table, crowds began to form to admire how beautiful they all looked. The items looked so picturesque that they could have easily been part of a window display in any victorian crockery shop! The children and parents were a little bit heartbroken at the thought of having to leave their creations behind at the mansion so that they could dry properly, but they were equally full of excitement to come back and collect them so that they can begin to use them and have them as the best piece of crockery in the house!

If you would like to participate in future workshops at Valentines Mansion:

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

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Seeking local musical performers to take part in public art project

Artist Lucy Harrison is looking for Redbridge based musical performers to take part in a one-day event in Ilford, as part of her public art project Good Company.

Good Company is a project focussing on how local businesses contribute to the social and cultural life of Ilford. Lucy is selecting local businesses to be hosts for the event, where musicians will appear throughout the day in incongruous settings. The event is scheduled to take place in autumn 2014.

A modest fee will be paid for performances, which are generally expected to be acoustic only. Performers must provide their own equipment. The day will be advertised and people will be encouraged to follow the trail throughout the day, so it could be a good opportunity for some exposure.

To apply, please send an email including MP3 files and / or links to documentation of your performances to by 5pm on 29 August.

For queries or further information email or call Lucy on 07964 878315.

Good Company is part of the Ilford This Way public art programme commissioned by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure.

More details can be found on the Good Company website

Post Author: Jane Leighton

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Children Go Crazy About Bats At South Park’s Latest Fun Nature Event!

Ever wondered what it’s really like to be a bat? No? Well, these kids certainly did and after the event at South Park, Ilford on Wednesday, they knew all the secrets of a bat’s life! I went along to their Let’s Go Batty event to brush up on my bat knowledge!

When I arrived, I just had to spend a few moments sitting by the pond listening to the sounds of nature and the wildlife that surrounds it. Despite the radiance of the bright blue sky, the topic of the day was the dark and often ominously portrayed bats. But, park ranger Julia was determined to debunk myths about bats by shedding light on the facts. The most common misconception that she quickly put right was the incorrect statement that bats are blind. Bats can see, they just use a different spectrum because they are always out in the dark and they don’t even need their eyesight as much as echolocation – which is when they shout and listen to their surroundings.

It was clear that the young children were all eager to become bat experts as they filed into the wildlife education and information centre. As they did so, park ranger Anne began to explain how the very roof of the centre is bat friendly. The park itself also offers the opportunity to join in on a bat walk when it becomes dark as there are many bat boxes hanging in the trees and each box can hold up to 50 bats! In Redbridge, you can find up to 7 different kinds of bats and a special bat detector is used to listen out for their calls – this nifty device was on hand during the presentation and was passed around to all the children as they gawked in amazement.

Julia began the session by testing the audience’s knowledge on bats and they were all extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable! Hands kept shooting up to give examples of different bats and to inform everyone that bats like to feed on mosquitoes, which is why they come out mostly at night.

It was then time for some arts and crafts which meant a lot of glue, coloured paper and of course googly eyes! During the process, one young man declared that his creation was “going a bit donkey wonky!” meaning, it was time to ask mum for help. The result, however, was an abundance of awesome bats hanging from sticks and being waved around the room.

During the hubbub of the arts and crafts, Anne told me more about the park and its plans for the future. It’s admirable at how dedicated the teams are to South Park as much of it has been transformed from previously unfortunate conditions. Being built in 1903, the park has a lot of history and Anne highlighted the importance of its heritage being preserved. As well as this, there are plans to create a new basketball court and to have pond dipping introduced by 2016. The success of the park is clear as the walls of the centre are plastered with photos and information about the park and the wildlife that lives there. It’s a hub of information which has led 150 children to visit the park during the summer term.

The final activity of the day involved actually getting out on the grass and enjoying the fresh morning air. A very clever game was devised to physically demonstrate how bats work. Some children pretended to be bats while others pretended to be moths. The bats would be blindfolded to replicate the dark conditions that bats venture out in and the moths would be whizzing all around. When the bat shouts, the moths would stop and the bats would have to use echolocation to try and pinpoint where the moths are. This resulted in a great deal of fun and squeals of laughter, especially when the mums joined in and became moths!

Guest Author: Raeesa Mukhtar