New gardening clubs

As of this week, our gardening club will now be running Fridays and Saturdays 12-2pm as well as the current Mondays and Wednesdays. Please come along to Besson Street Community Garden and ask for Christina.

Please respect our COVID guidelines when on site. You will be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering the premises and regularly throughout your stay. You will also be asked to ensure you stay 2m away from other users at all times. Please have a mask with you to use where it is not possible to maintain this distance.

ESOL lessons starting in September

In September, we will be offering a programme of blended English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) lessons, with some taking place within the centre and some being delivered online.

Registration for these courses will take place in person, at Besson Street Community Garden, Besson Street, SE14 5AS from Tuesday 1 September to Friday 4 September, 10am-3pm.

You can just turn up and ask for Helen. Please remember to wear a face covering. You will be asked to undertake a brief assessment to ensure that we put you in the right class according to your ability.

Have your say

Welcome to our regular column where a local resident has their say about something on their mind. This month Donna starts a discussion
about taking personal responsibility for helping manage the Covid crisis.

Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?
A restaurant was recently closed down for a deep clean, food was thrown away, staff were put on hold and income was lost. Why? Because someone who had just been tested for Coronavirus decided to go out for dinner and a few drinks rather than wait for her test results.
It is likely that other people were infected by her as she sat eating dinner and as she travelled to and from the restaurant. This is how the virus spreads, people mixing with each other and not taking seriously the guidelines about washing hands, wearing masks, going into quarantine etc.
To force the virus back to a manageable level we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions. There’s more than plenty we can blame the government for over the whole coronavirus episode but we do all have a personal responsibility too if we are to ensure the virus stays at a manageable level until we have a vaccine.
Another discussion would be around the anti-vaxers, the flat earth society. They really do need to read some real science instead of conspiracy theories. It is science that will come to the aid of humanity regarding this virus not giant Lizards or drinking bleach. Who would drive a car without wearing a seat belt? Only fools, nowadays! So why would you not follow the guidelines on handwashing, staying home if waiting for test results and so on?
Well, of course, some people – far too many people – will have to choose between taking the awful risk of going to work knowing they might be infected and/or infect others and paying the rent and food bills. That’s not a real choice, not a fair choice.
We need the government to guarantee full pay for all workers if they have to isolate, regardless of their contract or status. Else, the poorest paid, least protected will remain in the frontline of fire with this virus. If we are to avoid a second spike this winter we do all have to believe that it’s all our personal responsibility to help keep the Covid virus under
There are things we can do individually and there are things we must do collectively. Supporting campaigns to make sure the workplace is safe, that schools are safe, that care workers and other frontline and key workers have full employment rights with decent pay and benefits etc is an essential way to put pressure on the government to deliver what we need.

A note from the Chair

NXG Trust is overseen by a board of Trustees, mainly local people all giving their time voluntarily. The board recently elected a new Chair, Helen Mathie, Helen works for a national homeless charity.

I was down at Besson Street a few weeks ago – the sun was shining, the garden was in full colour and it was easy to forget for a moment that we were still living in the pandemic. It reminded me how lucky we are to have such a wonderful, restorative and welcoming space on our doorstep. I’ve been reflecting on this as a relatively new Chair of the NXGT Board. When I took on the role back in February, I had little idea how things would pan out. Within four weeks we’d gone into lockdown, we had to take the difficult decision to suspend many of our services, and plans were quickly being put in place to deal with the many unknowns we faced as a charity. We know how hard this period has been so many in our community and the pressures will still be felt for some time to come.

It has however been an incredible privilege to see the dedication and creativity of the staff and volunteers at Besson Street who have made change happen quickly and kept as many activities going as possible. I was lucky enough to be on the Board for 3 years before becoming Chair, but my new role has given me an even stronger sense of pride about everything we do and the community who make this area of New Cross so special.

We definitely have challenges ahead but 6 months down the line, I’m really excited about working more closely with the team here to achieve the ambitions we have. If you want to find out more about the Board and the other trustees, please check out the governance section of the website (more info will be added soon about who we all are!). I hope there’ll be an opportunity to meet more of you – residents, partners, and volunteers – over the coming months.

The New Normal at Besson Street Community Garden

Keeping our community safe is our number one priority right now. We want to be able to deliver the best possible services to the community and that means doing things slightly differently. Many of our courses, classes and clubs will be starting back from September but all will be smaller to respect social distancing, and hand sanitiser and face coverings will be essential.

Stay and Play Sessions will be every Monday 9.30am to 11.30 am, every Tuesday 9.30am to 11.30am and every Wednesday 1.30pm to 3.30pm, starting 7 September. There will be 2 one-hour slots. You will need to book your space via our Eventbrite site. Sessions will be released for booking one week in advance.

ESOL Classes (English for speakers of other languages) will continue as blended courses with some face-to-face and some online classrooms. Call on 0207 639 7605 or email Helen for details – You can also just call in for an assessment on Tuesdays, 3.30-4.30pm or Wednesdays 5.00-6.00pm. During registration week (1-4 September) you can turn up any day between 10am and 3pm.

Adult Learning Courses will be running throughout the next term though they will all be delivered from New Cross Learning, 283 – 285 New Cross Road, SE14 6AS to allow for greater space and social distancing – click here for further details of the courses on offer.

Gardening Club will continue to meet every Monday 1pm to 3pm and every Wednesday 12 noon to 2pm and we are pleased to say we are adding two new gardening clubs on Fridays and Saturdays (times to be confirmed). As always all volunteers are welcome.

Ukulele and Drumming for 7-13 year olds will be running every Tuesday from 3.45pm to 5.15pm, there will be two groups and the classes start back on Tuesday 15 September at Besson Street Community Garden – still only £1 per session.

Employment Support and Advice continues to be a priority service. We offer support with job searching, applications and interview skills by phone and Zoom. Please email to book an appointment.

IT skills training can sadly not be provided face-to-face at present, due to the difficulties in social distancing in our IT suite. However, we are able to provide virtual IT teaching. Our tutor will support you to set up Zoom, and will then provide ongoing support to address your IT skill needs. Call Jenny on 0207 639 7605 or email for further information.

Introduction to Bee Keeping will take place on three Monday evenings starting Monday 14 September at 6pm until 8pm and then on Monday 21 and 28. We have four thriving bee hives on site at Besson Street Community Garden. We want to help increase the urban bee population and encourage as many local residents as we can to understand bees, and the plants and flowers that bees need and enjoy. We are also keen to support any local residents who want to establish their own honey bee hives. The course is taught by Camilla Goddard from Capital Bee. Book your place here. Please note that numbers are restricted to ensure social distancing. The classes will also take place outside only, so please dress appropriately for the weather.

Mental Health First Aid Training is an internationally recognised qualification at level 3. It will take place over two Mondays, 5 and 12 October, starting at 9.15am to 4.15pm. You can book here or call 0207 639 7605

Mindfulness will be starting again in October. We will be offering an 8-week course. Further details will be put on our website shortly. Alternatively, please ring 0207 639 7605 for further details.

Sewing classes will be starting back, although we will have very restricted numbers, and you will need to book your place in advance. They will run Monday 10.30 to 11.30 or 11.40 to 12.40. Please call 0207 639 7605 to register or for further details.

New Courses

Adult learning courses are starting back up, and our new courses for September/October are now available for booking here. Please note that they will be delivered from New Cross Learning, and NOT Besson Street Community Garden. This is due to the need for a larger space to maintain social distancing between participants.

Food Safety – 25 September
Emergency First Aid – 2 October
Customer Service – 9 October
Safeguarding of Children – 16 October
Fire Safety Workplace Training – 6 November
Paediatric First Aid – 10 and 17 October

Learning IT skills

Do you need to improve your IT skills?
Offering face to face lessons is tricky at the moment, in light of the need to maintain social distancing. However, we are now a member of the Online Centres network.

The Online Centres Network offers access to ‘Learn My Way‘ a wide range of online tutorials taking you step by step through using your computer or device, from online basics and using each of the Microsoft office programmes, to finding a job or helping you improve your health online.

In addition, we are currently providing zoom based IT tutorials for people needing some individual or small group help in getting started with emails, using the internet, or using basic packages such as Microsoft Word or Excel.

Please contact if you would be interested in this support or would like to discuss options.

Stay and play sessions

Stay and play sessions for under 5s and their families will commence again in September. Sessions will be ticketed, with tickets available to 16 families per session (in one hour slots of 8). Sessions can be booked from our Eventbrite site, and will be released one week in advance.

A ‘family group’ can be made up of one adult (including child-minders) and up to three children. We ask all adults to take full responsibility for all the children in their care during Stay and Play.


You can only book ONE session per day.Please bring your ticket to the gate for entry.

You only need ONE ticket per family. PLEASE do NOT book multiple tickets. We have limited space, but we do want this service to be available to as many families as possible. A ‘family group’ can be made up of one adult only (including child-minders) and up to three children. 

Face coverings: all vistors to community centres are now required by law to wear a face covering when on site. This applies to the adult attending. Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a face covering. 

Hand washing and sanitising: Please ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly when entering the garden, or use our hand sanitiser (which is available at the entrance and in various places around the site). Please use these periodically throughout your stay, and do the same with your child.

Social distancing: It is important that you continue to maintain a 2m distance from other adults on site at all times. We recognise that it is difficult for child(ren) to maintain 2m distances. For this reason, please do not attend the session if you or your child is at all unwell, or for 7 days afterwards if they have been ill.

Facilites: Unlike our normal service, you are currently not permitted to make use of our kitchen facilities. If you would like a refreshment while you are on site, you are advised to bring your own. Please bring these in a reusable bottle, to minimise waste on site. Toilet facilities will be available and will be cleaned regularly. 

Cleaning: All play equipment and materials will be thoroughly cleaned at the start of the day and at the end of each timed play session. Staff may also clean equipment after your child has finished playing with it, so that this can be passed on to another child during the course of the session.

Unwell or positive covid test: if you become unwell onsite, please distance yourself from others and tell a member of staff as soon as possible. We will ask you to leave the site to minimise any risk to others. You will be asked to book a COVID test and advise us of the outcome as soon as you receive it, to facilitate any necessary track and trace requirements. If you become unwell within 24 hours of attending a session, please let us know as soon as possible.

Should you be unable to attend a pre-booked Stay and Play session we ask you to call the centre as soon as possible to give some other family the opportunity.

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

BAMER mental health support groups by Bromley and Lewisham Mind

Engage in ME provides mental health and wellbeing support groups to adults from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities in Lewisham borough to:

·         learn how to manage their own mental health and wellbeing, with a specific current focus on the psychological and emotional needs raised by the current pandemic.

·        find out about and access other relevant, local online support services

·         meet, learn and share with other people experiencing mental health difficulties in a welcoming and understanding place

·         discuss their cultural needs and how services can support them better.

Engage in ME Online sessions are held weekly, for six weeks at a time, via Zoom. Each weekly session will last an hour-and-a-half. Some sessions will also include guest speakers from other local mental health and wellbeing support services. The groups are for people experiencing low to moderate mental health difficulties resident in Lewisham borough.

For more information
To book a place or if you have an questions please contact Eleanora (Wednesdays and Thursdays) 07732 079038, Smita 07850 639811 or

ESOL lessons

We are pleased to announce that we will be gradually recommencing our ESOL lessons from next week, Monday 8 June.
Please note that these will NOT be in the usual format, but will take place in the outdoor classroom in Besson Street Community Garden, with not more than six people attending at any one time, so that we can comply with government guidance on social distancing. We will also be offering online lessons on a Monday.

Guidlines for attendance:
– This applies only to students who have signed up to our lessons prior to March 2020. Our ESOL Tutor, Helen, will contact you to advise you of the time of the sessions according to your ability.
– If we have more than 6 students wishing to attend a lesson, you may only be able to attend one lesson per week, rather than two, to ensure that everyone can access some provision.
– you will be asked to wash/sanitise your hands on arrival.
– you are welcome to wear face masks, however, we will also maintain 2m social distancing at all times and will ask you to sanitise your hands frequently while on site.
– you must not attend if you feel unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19

New students – If you are not already register, but would like to sign up to our lessons, you should first attend an assessment session at Besson Street Community Garden, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 3.15 to 4.15pm. Please email if you would like to book to attend.

Stay and play service resuming from next week

We are really pleased to be able to reopen our Stay and Play sessions at Besson Street Community Garden.

Working within the Government and WHO guidelines we are offering 5 pre-booked outdoor sessions throughout the day, all-day, every Tuesday starting 9.30 am Tuesday 9 June until Tuesday 14 July. 

Carers and parents can sign up for a 45-minute pre-booked session by booking a slot on Eventbrite via this link.

Tickets will be released each week on a Wednesday morning for the following week’s sessions.

Each 45-minute session will be shared by three other ‘family groups’ all keeping the recommended social distance. A ‘family group’ can be made up of one adult (including child-minders) and up to three children. We appreciate that these groups may involve some school-age children who are not yet back at school, therefore we ask all adults to take full responsibility for all the children in their care during Stay and Play.

We are asking all Centre users to use our hand sanitizer when entering the garden and periodically throughout your stay. There will be hand sanitizer dispensers outside each room and on the covered stage in the garden.

There will be cloth masks or visors that you are welcome to use while in the garden. They will be carefully and thoroughly sanitised after each use. All play equipment and materials will be thoroughly cleaned at the start of the day and at the end of each play session.

Should you be unable to attend a pre-booked Stay and Play session we ask you to call Mina to cancel as soon as possible to give some other family the opportunity.

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces.