Volunteer of the Month: Maureen Middleton

Maureen is 72 years old from Norbury. She and her husband used to come to the New Horizon Centre for lunch, and now she spends her free time volunteering.  Maureen has been volunteering at Commonside since last June. She will spend four to five days per week working at the New Horizon Centre. She volunteers in the kitchen, cooking for the lunch club, as well as the cafe. Maureen’s favorite part of Commonside is its people. Commonside is a big family to Maureen. She says they are all nice, helpful people.

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Andy Hodge Leaving

Commonside Staff

As some of you may know, Andy Hodge will be leaving Commonside this month after more than a decade of what started as a ‘temporary job’ at the Pollards Hill Community Association. Together we have been through some major and minor ups and downs and held the good ship Commonside on course through some very choppy waters. He has been a stalwart at the Commonside Trust with a stock of curious tales and a very kind heart. None of us know anyone with such a rich knowledge of local history, jokes, facilities management and personal contacts and he will be sorely missed.

To mark his departure we are holding a party here at the Commonside Trust, starting in the afternoon of 19th December and finishing sometime in the evening.

You are all very welcome to call in to the New Horizon Centre any time from 2pm onwards to say goodbye and wish Andy well.

Please do pass on this invitation to anyone who has known and worked with Andy in Merton over the years.
There are so many I am not sure where to start.

Best Wishes

Naomi Martin
Commonside Trust

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Root7 – Corporate Volunterring

Root7 Volunteering A number of local businesses help Commonside where they can, one of them is Root7 and recently their work was recognised by winning a Team London volunteering award.

Robert Innes from Root7 had this to say:
‘When Naomi told us she had nominated us for the corporate volunteering award from Team London, we were very flattered, but thought that there was little chance that a small business from South London would win the award.

So we were very suprised and overjoyed when our name was called out on the night.
We went on to have a cracking evening with Shari and Andy as we celebrated the win. We think that businesses have an important role to play in the community, and the partnership we have with Commonside is something we consider important as part of our company ethos.
I would like to thank everyone at Commonside for all the work they do, and for the nomination and recognition of the value of our partnership.’

If you are a business and you want to help out Commonside then please get in touch here

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Get Involved at The New Horizon Centre

At the New Horizon Centre there are activities, throughout the week, for all ages and abilities. Check out our What’s On section or call us for more details on 020 8764 9582.

Whats on at Commonside

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Foodcycle Merton – What Have We Been Up To?

Food Cycle

Hello Merton FoodCyclers! Find out what the Merton hub have been up to!

Merton Foodcycle Volunteering

What a cook!

On Wednesday 21st September, FoodCycle Merton held its first cook, and it was a great success!

We collected surplus from Sainsburys in Colliers Wood as a special one-off donation, and we were also donated dryastore ingredients by United Living, which we made good use of when we got to work in the kitchen at the New Horizons Centre.

Volunteering Merton Foodcycle

Merton guests Florette and Councillor Joan with our lovely volunteer Shari


So what did we make?

Our lovely team of volunteers cooked a delicious menu of:
• Root Vegetable soup
• Cheesy vegetable crumble with rainbow slaw
• Fruit salad

Our guests loved the meal and we had some special visitors including local councillor Joan Henry.

Despite a few challenges, the team worked brilliantly together and thought on their feet. We even managed to get the meal ready ahead of schedule and were able to supply some surplus for the bingo night in the centre later that day.

Let’s do it again!

Big thanks go to the team at New Horizons who got stuck in and helped us get the meal cooked and to Sainsburys Colliers Wood and United Living for helping with the surplus.

We will be holding another Wednesday lunchtime event at the Merton hub soon and will let you all know about this as soon as the details are finalised. If you would like to get involved, please email us.

Keep your eyes open for more news from us!

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Food Cycle – We Need You

Food Cycle

Why do you need me?

We need people to help make FoodCycle Merton a success – this means enthusiasm, a love of food and a desire to help others and make friends in the process. We are asking for people to pledge to support the hub for six months.

Volunteers for other hubs say that FoodCycling has gained them skills, confidence and friends, and all for a little over 4 hours a week of their time.

We have spaces for volunteers and team leaders at all levels and will give you support and training to help you develop your confidence in the kitchen. Our lead volunteers also get a Food Safety qualification, valid for three years and recognised across the country!
Find out more here.

What if I can’t make Wednesday lunchtimes?

FoodCycle Merton will cook on a Wednesday lunchtime.
Do you work full time and this won’t work for you? Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways that you can support the hub as well as FoodCycle. Send this article to a friend to let them know about the meal, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you could even hand out some flyers for us in your local area. Get in touch here to let us know you’d like to help and we will find a way to make the most of your support!

Do you have childcare needs? We will be able to help you with this from September. Just get in touch to have a chat with us. We will also be offering a variety of shifts once we get going so that people can make the school run and still volunteer with us.

Food Cycle

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Volunteering in Mitcham – Food Cycle

Use your skills to do something great in Mitcham – Join Foodcycle Merton!

Volunteer in MitchamWe’re looking for enthusiastic and committed volunteers to lead cooking sessions, coordinate the team and help run the project.

We use surplus food from supermarkets to cook healthy, three-course meals for vulnerable people and we need your help to continue the project.


When: Wednesday lunchtimes, but you don’t have to be there every week!

Find out more: hubs@foodcycle.org.uk 020 7729 2775

Where: New Horizon Centre, South Lodge Avenue, Pollards Hill, Mitcham, CR4 1LT (map at bottom of page)

Volunteer in Mitcham

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Pollards Hill Sun Fest Volunteers

Do you have a talent? 

We’re looking for bakers, dancers, singers, actors and crafters to take part in the Pollards Hill Community Sun Fest on Saturday 14th August, 11am – 7pm.

Get in touch to be involved with the parade, talent show, poetry competition, food court and sellers pavillion:

Naomi Martin – General Info
Naomi@commonside.net or call 0208 764 9582

Caroline Quinn – Trade/Information stands
Caroline.quinn@moat.co.uk or 07711 438 502

Charlotte Young-Martins – Music/Food/Talent Show
07788 438 130

Pollards Hill Community Sun Fest


The event will be at Donnelly Green, Pollards Hill, CR4 1XT.

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A Newsletter for East Mitcham

East Mitcham now has it’s own Newsletter, a look at what’s happening in Pollards HIll, Longthornton and Figge’s Marsh east of the tracks.

Click this link to see Edition 1  →   East Mitcham Newsletter online

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A Message From Our Director

50 years old and ‘a little eccentric’?


Time for a cup of tea.

On 12th June  2013 I reached the ripe old age of 50.  I could not let this occasion pass without doing something completely in character, and so, on 15th June, I entered Mitcham Carnival’s street parade dressed as a compost bin to raise money for charity…

Those of you who knew me at the Maynard School, the University of Surrey, the Silesian University, the University of Birmingham, Progressive Tours, the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, the British Council or Surrey County Council, and those of you who know me now on the BedZED estate, in Hackbridge or Pollards Hill, you are likely to say one of two things:  either ‘now she’s completely lost it’ or ‘yes, well that figures’.  Or both?

True enough, I am ‘slightly mad’, experiencing, as I do, bouts of depression on and off since I was a teenager.  I have come to terms with this and see it as a part of myself – more a beautiful scar than a running sore.

In my fifty years of life, I have experienced many good things and been too close for comfort to a number of not so good things:  serious illness, mental ill health, self-harm, abuse of alcohol, substance misuse, domestic violence, debt, addictions, sexual assault, death of a loved one from a terminal condition and overdose.

At the Commonside Trust, the charity I am proud to head up, we run a programme supporting parents experiencing any and many of the above difficulties.  The programme is called Step Forward, because we aim to support parents back onto their feet until they are ready to take their first, second and third steps forward, becoming more independent, self-sufficient, confident, happier…  This is the cause for which I chose to fund-raise.

So I asked you to sponsor me as a compost bin on 15th June….This was definitely a once in a lifetime offer!  You could do this online and make a one-off donation, or send me cash or cheque.  You can see a photo of me parading as a compost bin by clicking here.

With your help we raised over £400 that day!  THANK YOU.  It is never too late to donate – cash or cheques are still welcome!

My two biggest fears when I was growing up were:  that life might turn out to be boring, and that I might make a fool of myself in public.  Life has turned out to be oh so not boring, and as for making a fool of myself in public? well, despite the terrible weather on the 15th, I had fun!

With thanks.



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