View from a suburb: Batten down the hatches again - but we’ll pull together

Shelley-Anne Salisbury has seen first hand how stalwart and generous the community of Hampstead Garden Suburb is.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury has seen first hand how stalwart and generous the community of Hampstead Garden Suburb is. - Credit: Shelley-Anne Salisbury

Emerging from lockdown back in mid-summer, everything began to feel, well, more normal. The sun continued to (mostly) shine and we carried on with our Boris walks and dined out to help out. After all the restrictions of lockdown, everyone dared to feel hopeful.

Perhaps we were all a little precipitous? Perhaps we threw a bit too much caution to the wind? Because, now, at the start of November, with winter well and truly on its way, heralded by the clocks going back, the country is feeling a great deal less of that summer optimism.

Instead, we are getting ready to batten down the hatches for what we have been told will be a very bleak winter indeed.

Covid-19, it seems, will be with us for quite some time yet. The wearing of face coverings, liberal use of hand sanitiser and social distancing have simply become just the norm.

Nevertheless, the residents of Hampstead Garden Suburb (that bucolic patch of green straddling NW11 and N2 envisaged by Henriette Barnett) have remained indomitable of spirit. As co-editor of Suburb News, HGS’s local paper, I am placed in prime position to see how this stalwart and generous community has pulled (and continues to pull) together.

Refusing to give up, HGS societies turned to virtual platforms for their usual summer offerings: Proms At Home, The Virtual Flower and Garden Show, Virtual Walks around the Suburb and the Garden Suburb Theatre performances via Zoom – all with impressive results.

The HGSRA raised an incredible £65,000 for the Royal Free Charity Covid-19 emergency fund, receiving one of only four awards handed out by the charity and the only one to a community group.

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HGS residents set up and continue to run neighbour support groups for those isolating, quarantining and shielding as well as foodbank collections, You Donate We Deliver hubs to provide meals for NHS staff and residents continue to raise funds for hard hit charities.

Local shopkeepers have also worked untiringly throughout this period to provide amazing Covid-safe environments.

Unified. Caring. Selfless. How proud Dame Henrietta would be of her future Hampstead Suburb Garden community.

• Shelley-Anne Salisbury is co-editor of Suburb News.