Sunday, 18 April 2021

Penge Green Gym Newsletter Spring 2021


Penge Green Gym Newsletter


Spring at Winsford Gardens

After what seemed like a very long, cold winter, spring and an easing of the lockdown has come to Winsford Gardens.  We are still keeping our teams small but we are excited to get back to work.  And spring brings lots of jobs with it

Our rose beds have been weeded and a new layer of compost from our own compost bins has been added to keep the weeds down (hopefully).  The compost bins are now in a poor state so we are starting to repair them.  We are also starting to repair our hazel fences and recently went to a TCV site in South Croydon to collect coppiced hazel.  Many thanks to Peter Underwood at TCV for his help.  We have also cut some willow from Royston Fields to repair our dead hedges.

We have also been creating a border for our gravel garden to define the path.  It was quite a task digging through the clay and sometimes hardcore but we think the result was worth it.  We will be doing the same thing on the other side.

We are also very excited to see frogspawn again in our growing area wildlife pond.  Hopefully we will have lots of tadpoles this summer, watch this space!

We are all very excited to be back in these beautiful gardens and they certainly put on a fantastic display this time of year!  We hope to be able to celebrate our 10th anniversary with everyone this summer but whatever happens we know the gardens will continue to be enjoyed by all who visit.  

Easyfundraising is a great way to support Penge Green Gym.  With Easyfundraising every time you shop, a small donation is made to Penge Green Gym.  If you would like to help us, go to and sign up.  It's totally free and helps us with all forthcoming projects.  Many thanks.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Penge Green Gym Newsletter December 2020


Penge Green Gym Newsletter


Seasons Greetings from Penge Green Gym

As we come to the end of this extraordinary year we would like to wish all of our supporters and volunteers happiness and health at Christmas and a hopeful new year. 

Throughout the year we have faced challenges like everyone else.  During the first lockdown a skeleton crew of volunteers kept an eye on the park doing essential maintenance where necessary.  When we were allowed to begin our Wednesday sessions once again it was heart warming to welcome back our loyal gang of volunteers.  We stayed safe and took advantage of the fine summer weather to create new features such as the new gravel garden sign, leaf mulch area and continue looking after the park's many flowers, shrubs and trees.  We were also awarded our 6th Green Flag.  

A year in pictures at Winsford Gardens




Our abiding memory of this year in the park is the connection we made with so many people (some, finding the park for the first time) who came to sit, play, walk their dog or just enjoy this beautiful greenspace in the heart of Penge.  We were especially excited to meet so many of you at our impromptu pop-up plant sale.  Thank you for all your kind comments.  

Those using the park at the moment will possibly notice that we are renovating the mound which has suffered from it's popularity, becoming quite bald!  We are stabilising it with tyres which will make fun steps to climb up it. We look forward to completing this and other projects in the new year.  We also hope that the new year brings better news for everyone.  We also hope to hold a celebration of our 10th year as Penge Green Gym.  You will all be welcome!

Easyfundraising is a great way to support Penge Green Gym.  With Easyfundraising every time you shop, a small donation is made to Penge Green Gym.  If you would like to help us, go to and sign up.  It's totally free and helps us with all forthcoming projects.  Many thanks.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Penge Green Gym Newsletter (November 2020 Extra Edition)


Penge Green Gym Newsletter


Projects to get involved in during lockdown

We have been approached by 2 different organisations who would like to found out about the beneficial effects of gardening and volunteering.  The first is from Peter Moore member of the British Pain Society wanting to interview people on the benefits of gardening especially on people with health conditions (physical or mental).  If you would like to get involved you can contact him at

The second being from Andy Harrod of Lancaster University want to know the long term benefits of attending outdoor activities for people between 15-29. These are the details - 

Group activities in nature and long-term wellbeing is a PhD research project exploring the experiences of people who take part in outdoor group activity programmes and the impact of attending them on their long-term wellbeing.
The aim of this study is to explore the longevity of benefits to participants’ wellbeing from attending outdoor group activity programmes during the ages of 16-29, by considering the impact on their wellbeing at the time and over their life. It is important we develop understanding of the factors at the activities and in people’s lives that support improvements to wellbeing over time and the factors which prevent this from happening as well.
Participants need to have attended:
  • during the ages of 16-29 (can be older now and still attending),
  • at least 5 years ago or if still attending started at least 5 years ago,
  • an adventure, environmental conservation, exercise, farming, or gardening programme.
Taking part involves two activities, producing a timeline representing specific experiences over your life and taking photos of a place you go to for your wellbeing, and two interviews. The activities will take around 15-45 minutes each and the interviews will be between 1-2 hours. The interviews will be by video chat or phone.
Further information about the study and taking part is at I am happy to answer any questions and discuss taking part with you via email,, or phone 01524 594710. Thank you for your consideration, Andy Harrod.

These surveys are completely voluntary and Penge Green Gym is not affiliated with either of these organisations. 

Finally, there is an ongoing consultation from Bromley Council or an extension to the alcohol free zone.  This is open until 27 November if you would like to have your say.   The link is -


Are you thinking of doing some or all of your Christmas shopping online this year? Easyfundraising is a great way to support Penge Green Gym.  With Easyfundraising every time you shop, a small donation is made to Penge Green Gym.  If you would like to help us, go to and sign up.  It's totally free and helps us with all forthcoming projects.  Many thanks.

We'll be back in December!

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Penge Green Gym Newsletter November 2020


Penge Green Gym Newsletter


Green Flags, a new sign


Lockdown 2 (the sequel)

As of this week we have all entered the 2nd lockdown of the year.  We know that the park has been a real sanctuary for locals.  A place for people wanting to get out for exercise and to walk the dog and we hope that everyone can carry on enjoying it into the winter months.

Sadly our normal volunteering sessions have been put on hold for a month, but before that happened we were busy getting the park ready for the winter months, doing many autumn chores such as taking cuttings, tidying raised beds, adding manure to the roses and turning the compost heaps.  We have also been carrying out maintenance on a bench that needs replacing and creating a new leaf mulch area by the woodland path using deadhedges as walls.  This will come in very handy as the leaf drop is now in full swing.


We have also completed and installed our new 'Gravel Garden' sign.  This gives our visitors some information about the gravel garden and Beth Chatto the gardener who inspired it's creation.  

Green Flag 2020
We are excited to announce that we have received a Green Flag for the 6th year in a row. The objective of the Green Flag Award scheme is to encourage the provision of good quality public parks and green spaces that are managed in environmentally sustainable ways. The Green Flag Award helps to create public recognition of good quality green spaces and people’s confidence in them. The Award aspires to raise expectations of what a public green space can offer.  Well done to all the volunteers keeping the park in such fantastic shape.

The park has certainly shown off this autumn, with some spectacular displays of berries and leaves.  It continues to look very colourful (our roses are still going strong too!)  Look out for Cosmos, Sedums, Dogwood and Holly amongst many others.


Are you thinking of doing some or all of your Christmas shopping online this year? Easyfundraising is a great way to support Penge Green Gym.  With Easyfundraising every time you shop, a small donation is made to Penge Green Gym.  If you would like to help us, go to and sign up.  It's totally free and helps us with all forthcoming projects.  Many thanks.

We'll be back in December!

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Penge Green Gym September 2020 Newsletter


Penge Green Gym Newsletter


Notification of postponement of our AGM on Wednesday 30th September at 12pm

Due to the rise in infection rates of Covid-19 we have decided to postpone the AGM this year.  We will be holding a committee meeting instead and the minutes of the meeting will be available in due course.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Penge Green Gym Newsletter August 2020


A warm welcome back to our volunteers at

Winsford Gardens

 It has been nearly 5 months since our last full volunteering session.   It has been a difficult time for many not only due to the immediate effects of the Covid-19 virus but also the 'knock on' effects of social isolation and the mental stress that causes.  We are therefore very excited to finally be returning to our normal sessions on Wednesdays 11am-2pm, (with a few socially distanced changes) which will hopefully help our volunteers reconnect with friends old and new.

As we are 'feeling' our way back to some semblance of normality we will be restricting numbers to 20 volunteers per session.  If you have not been in contact with us for a while and would like to come back then please let us know so we can get an idea of numbers (just drop Brenda an email at  We will be monitoring this weekly.  We will also not be offering refreshments (sorry no biscuits!) but we will have a break for a natter as usual - and of course, you can bring your own refreshments to enjoy at 'break-time'.

We will also be asking you to bring your own gardening gloves (if you have them.  We can provide some but you will be asked to take them home and wash them). We will try and ensure volunteers keep socially-distanced (two metres apart) but will ask you to bring your own face covering in case of any contact closer than two metres. 

Projects at Winsford Gardens

in September

To give you an idea of the jobs we'll be doing this September here is a list.

1.  We will be emptying our leaf mulch bins onto our flower beds to make space for this years leaves.  Which leads onto...

2.  Yes, due to the extremely hot weather this summer the leaves have already started dropping and so we are starting the perennial job of leaf raking early.  

3.  Spreading the remaining woodchip on the beds.

4.  Turning over the compost in the bins to give them a good mix. 

5.  Construction of a new sign for the gravel garden.

If you would like to get involved in any of these jobs please come along and join in!

Notification of AGM

30th September 2020 12 noon

Penge Green Gym/ Friends of Winsford Gardens,  will be holding our annual general meeting on 30th September at 12 noon in the gardens.  Garden Road, Penge SE20 7XW.  All volunteers and other supporters are welcome to attend.  

We look forward to welcoming back some old and possibly new faces.  

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Why Parks Must be Safe Places

When crime is rife, and it is felt that no one cares, then people stop reporting crime anymore, because, “What’s the point? They never do anything about it!” It was for this reason that Neighbourhood Watch and Park Watch schemes were first set up to capitalise on community involvement.

Ten years ago, Winsford Gardens, Penge, London, was mostly unknown even to local residents. It had been well-kept during the 1980’s but left to it’s own devices in more recent years. If it was known, then it was avoided because it was overgrown with no clear lines of sight, and it was a haunt of alcoholics, for drug injecting and general anti-social behaviour. No one cared about that unloved place, and if that had continued it would have fallen further into dereliction, and then it would have be very likely to have been sold for housing development.

Winsford Gardens changed in 2011. By tidying it up and keeping it clean, adding new beds, features and flowers, the Penge Green Gym made it welcoming and inviting once again. As more people used the park, and saw that people cared about the space, it also became safer to use. We still had vandalism and setbacks, especially in the hours after dark, but the presence of local people who felt they now owned this park eventually meant that the anti-social behaviour moved elsewhere. This has reached a peak during lockdown. The park is heavily used every day by people of all ages including families. A playgroup visits most days. Parents feel the playground is safe for young children to play. If there is any anti-social behaviour, then other park users immediately tell us about it. People are so appreciative of the space we have created that they now give us cash donations, some on a regular monthly basis. We have achieved Community Green Flag status for the last five years running, were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and have been showered with other awards.

This was not hugely expensive to achieve. Local volunteers gave their time for free. Tools, equipment and signage were donated by a local companies. We have been very successful at applying for and winning grant funding. All that it really required really was for some people to give a damn! And to have the full backing of Bromley Council.

Now contrast Winsford Gardens with it’s nearest local park, Betts Park, where it appears that Bromley Council has given up on keeping it safe anymore. In a full council meeting on Monday 20th July 2020, responding to questions following the recent murder there; a shooting to the back of the head, the portfolio holder for Public Protection refused any CCTV in the park. Councillor Lymer says people should avoid going to parks when it’s dark, and for years the Council has continued to decline calls to provide more lighting in Betts Park and other local parks, saying that they did not want people to be given the impression that the parks were safe places after dark.

This is simply unacceptable. We cannot have "No Go Areas" or a curfew within our city, especially places where children and young families go to play and to exercise. Local people now avoid Betts Park. There is little point in keeping the grass cut, planting flower beds and installing outdoor exercise equipment if people do not feel safe. This becomes a self-perpetuating downward cycle in the manner of the Stockholm Syndrome and Broken Window Theory, when the visible signs of crime, anti-social behaviour, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including more serious crimes.

If you use Winsford Gardens as a case study, then you cannot hope to turn things around until you first give the impression that the park is safe and that you are doing everything in your power to make it so. You cannot have any local community involvement or the community reporting crime if people avoid going there. The alternative is for the gangs to move in and for gang culture to prevail. Not only will you lose the park, but you will lose an entire generation of children to this gang culture too.

David Fergusson

#parksmatter #loveyourpark #loveyourlocalpark #loveparks #parkswatch