Notes: January Open Meeting14/01/2021

As this is the first meeting of 2021… Happy New Year! This meeting is for the organisers of the various groups working on behalf of East Finchley to get together, share ideas and get support for our respective objectives.

1.    Welcome from Chair Nick Allan.

Welcome to our new faces (Lynn Winton – Station Library, Steve Gold, Selena Green etc.)

The aim of tonight’s meeting is to share ideas to help East Finchley Businesses, Organisations and Residents – how N2United can help businesses, you as an individual, and/or benefit the community. Ideas will be compiled and published.

There is usually no public meeting in January so this is a free and open meeting for everyone (organisations and businesses) and will focus on sharing plans and ideas to help us all thrive in these uncertain times. We’d like you all to help us plan what we do as a network to help you whether you’re a business, an organisation or a resident.

2.    Updates

Lockdown 3 has arrived with the same challenges as before… plus some! Despite this, we are delighted to welcome several new businesses to the area including King Street Food & Wine, Bottles ‘n Jars and all the new businesses on the N2Unique list, please support them if you can.

Food Project – Giuseppe Solo

The project is operating from the Phoenix Cinema from 10:30 to 12:30 every Tuesday and remains free to those who need without question. People can also buy the wonderful homemade food and buy additional of meals to support the initiative, £3 or £5 each. All donations gratefully received.

Other volunteer groups
Other volunteer neighbourhood support groups who help shop, collect and deliver prescriptions; dog walk etc. can be found on the East Finchley Community Facebook pages – you can also volunteer to help as well!

There is also a team of befrienders on hand for a friendly chat if helpful.

Cycle Lane update – Chris Stavrou

Not much to report since December as so many shops closed or operating reduced hours, he is still awaiting a response from the Council to his email.

N2Unique – Nick Allan

Pleased to report the campaign has been well received by everyone and will be extend include the local cafes and restaurants and anyone in the area who are having to pivot their businesses towards takeaways etc.

Please let us know which of these outlets is offering what services.

Introduction to Steve Gold Property

Steve helps local businesses operating from a leasehold premise to help them get the best deal from their landlords relating to managing or extending their leases.

Steve explained that he acts for tenants rather than landlords. Rental rates are typically not down to square meterage but rather how much a tenant can afford to pay, and how much/little a landlord can afford to accept while remaining viable. One landlord in a recent case insisted that there were no problems! The matter was finally resolved, but on resolution tenants are not allowed to share the details with other shop tenants. This is absurd, as tenants need a comparison in order to negotiate.

N2United will feature the advice Steve provides on the N2United website. For specific advice, please contact Steve directly.

Grants and Support

N2United is helping local businesses get the help they require and is sharing tips and advice.

What’s been your experience?
Can you find the right help? Where to find it? How easy/hard has it been, what help do they require? Etc.) Government, Barnet… others?

Please share your experience!

3.    Community Plans & Ideas so far

No2Plastics Treasure Walks

No2Plastics Founder Ann Inglis had suggested that someone could design local walks as treasure or history trails to provide children and adults with more interest on their walks round the neighbourhood. She is writing a letter to ‘The Archer’ to try and get this suggestion launched and find someone to lead the initiative – can you help?

Loyalty card

N2United and a number of local organisations are looking at introducing a loyalty card to reward shoppers and help local trade.
Would a loyalty card (like Muswell Hills Mums card) work in East Finchley? Views please!

From the Front line – Retailers stories

A message to all customers

  • Please wear a mask (do not wait to be asked).
  • Be polite and considerate (to staff and other customers).
  • Tell businesses what they are doing that you like and what else you’d like them to do (e.g., what additional item(s) would you like them to stock for you?).

Examples of what it’s like as a retailer in today’s circumstances.

Chris Stavrou – KOKOS shoe and repair shop

The shop has faced many challenges. As a repair service, not only for shoes but also for any other leather items, it comes into the same category as laundrettes and dry cleaners, it can remain open. However, KOKOS has had to reduce its opening hours and most of the repair team are furloughed. Shoe wear is currently lighter as people are staying at home more. KOKOS has introduced a service whereby customers do not have to visit the shop and repairs can be home delivered.
Chris said, “We all must make ourselves and our businesses much more accessible than previously, minimising people’s need to go out.”

Louise Cambridge – UOE and Post Office

Everyone needs the Post Office!
UOE is an independent family run business. Elliot Jacobs has owned the business (and its several other North London branches) for more than 20 years. The average week sees about 2,500 customers in the shop. Seen as part of N2’s critical infrastructure, UOE has experienced significant challenges throughout lockdown. Louise herself works on the Operations and Finance side. While there has been a serious amount of investment in the shop’s infrastructure for Covid-19 safety and other purposes, there have been redundancies. 2metre markings have been introduced, along with an electronic customer counter at the entrance and counter screens. A modest amount of government support has been available, Elliot has applied for everything there is and encourages us all to do the same. Some applications have been successful, some not.

Grants are also available for closed businesses and there are other discretionary grants that businesses can apply for.

UOE has worked closely with suppliers requesting extended terms, landlords, business rates and utilities re extended credit or deferment payments. All this has helped. UOE has not been shut for one day, although they have stopped trading on Sundays.

N2United along with other organisations is looking at ways we can recognise businesses, organisations and individuals who have been especially helpful during the pandemic.

Guest Speaker – Roger Chapman, Friends of Cherry Tree Woods

‘How to plan a town’ or how a community can work better together.

Roger has been active in the community for the past 35 years and is best known for running the East Finchley Festival (greatly missed in 2020) until stepping down in 2018. Most recently Roger and his team through the Cherry Tree Wood project, have raised over £20,000 in funds to support and maintain Cherry Tree Wood as attractive and viable as possible.

Cherry Tree Wood Update
Roger reported that new waste bins had appeared this very day! He also confirmed that, thanks to pressure on the Council, the tennis and basketball courts would be rebuilt. A significant result.

Why is planning important and why should we plan the best community we want to live and work in?

Re planning generally, the starting point is thinking what end you want to achieve.
Most planning documents set out a list of aims, vision etc, which is usually very messy and confused. For example, think about where you want to be in one, five-, and 10-years’ time. Then review from your own point of view as a business, organisation or individual. During the process you’ll meet compromises, disagreements etc. – it’s an ongoing process all of which ties into the journey towards your goals.

Roger quoted Donald Rumsfeld: ‘It’s what we know, the unknown knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns.

For East Finchley, what’s happening on the ground at the moment? What’s going to happen post Covid-19? What’s going to change?

Getting there?
Lots of communication is needed – talk to each other. Identify the dots and join them together. An effective plan needs collaboration, mutual support, and discussion.
Already a strong community, East Finchley could be stronger. What does stronger mean? What linkages to we need? How and by whom do we establish them? Do we need another organisation? Have we already got enough?

Consider how many more people are moving into the N2 area – hundreds of homes are being developed – in Viceroy Court, Prospect Ring, rear of the Bobath centre, Grange Estate, station car park proposals. And others. How do we welcome newcomers? Yes, of course via The Archer but how do local businesses welcome them?

Local communication

Roger conducted an experiment looking up items on Google – e.g., condensed milk; up came a Russian shop at Elmer Close, entirely because the shop has a brilliantly linked website.
How can we improve and drive customers to East Finchley?

Other thoughts
Other influences include Climate Change with lots of ideas coming out re renewable energy, and the expansion of ULEZ next year.

Ways of working – more working at home. Will this change? Implications for businesses.

Final thought
Plan is about People. The Place. The Community. Try and bring them together, discuss, support, collaborate. This discussion is a starting conversation.

N2United serves the businesses and community organisations to help ask these questions and find solutions to them. But it takes everyone’s ideas and enthusiasm as s ingle solution wont work. For business support, a photographer who works at home will have very different needs from a local retailer, chemist or restaurant.

We hope that this and our next meetings will help us agree what we are all trying to achieve. Everyone must tell us their ideas, plus how you might actively support some of these initiatives.

Planning and Goal Setting

Juliet Landau Pope – De-Clutter Coach

Juliet is very experienced at telling people how to declutter their homes… and lives!

We asked, ‘What are Juliet’s tips on setting goals?’
Juliet said that she is not talking about goals anymore. Anyone who set them last year will have been despondent, disappointed etc. Juliet works with students who were expecting to sit exams and business owners whose budgets are now irrelevant. Instead, she advises her clients to think about projects. Projects are what have kept Juliet sane and kept her and her clients motivated. A goal may depend on so many exterior influences more, but a project can use our energy short term in a productive way.

Right now, she would encourage everyone to think about weekly rather than annual goals. We can’t plan much further ahead than that at the moment. At night look back at your day and celebrate what you have accomplished – walk, did laundry, checked in with neighbour, attended a networking meeting online. So important to acknowledge the positive, however small.

Also, re grants and support – she is member of the Federation of Small Businesses, but if you’re not a member, they still have a huge amount of information on their website including Health & Safety info re risk assessment, plus how to apply for financial support.

Laura Roberts – Laptops for Lockdown

Laura asked people to give their unwanted tablets and laptops to local schools – for more information please go to

Age UK

Gillian Jordan one of the trustees for Age UK shared news from their latest newsletter and a forward by chief executive Helen Newman

“Welcome to our February e-newsletter. Sadly, we are in another lockdown, but the end is hopefully in sight as the vaccines are rolled out. We are still here to support older people in Barnet with advice, friendly phone chats, shopping, essential jobs around the home and online activities.

‘However, we REALLY NEED more shopping volunteers – particularly in Edgware, Colindale and Hendon. If you or anyone you know can spare a couple of hours a week to help, please phone our volunteer manager Lisa on 020 8432 1422 or email her on

‘Read on for our latest news – and I’ll be in touch again in February!”

Get the Age UK latest newsletter

Keeping Healthy

Mental Health – Naomi Cotten

Coping with… well, everything! – Psychotherapist Naomi described a couple of coping strategies:

We are all under a lot of stress at the moment which is perfectly normal in the circumstances. A bit of stress gives us impetus in life. But, right now, stress can become so great it paralyses us. Think of stress as a bottle of water. Most people go round with the water in their stress bottle right up to the top, so something new makes it spill.

Here is an exercise which can help to decrease what’s in the bottle to make to make room for the unexpected

Settle into your chair, feet firmly on the ground, and sit firmly against the back of the chair. Breathe in for 4, hold for 2, breathe out for 6, and get into that gentle rhythm of breathing. Be aware of your breathing, then start to look around your room and notice three red things, then three silver, then notice what you can hear – tune into the sounds, and here’s Naomi’s top tip: think about whether you have any saliva in your mouth. If you have, it will send a message to your nervous system that you’re calmer, more relaxed. If not, chew on your tongue or the inside of your cheeks or thinks about your favourite food to produce saliva. Then think of one of your favourite places, real or imagined, where you feel calm and at ease – imagine yourself there – notice how you feel – breathe it in, let it fill you up from head to toe. Breathe out any stress and worry. And come back to the room.
se this exercise throughout the day.

Physical Health – Martin Carroll (Personal Trainer)

Martin is a local REP’S Level 3 qualified personal trainer and provides advice on fitness and exercise and is the owner of ‘Make That Change’ that helps people achieve their fitness goals and fulfil their true potential.
“Whatever your fitness level, shape or size we will work together to Make That Change to suit your individual needs. My background in fitness is from Boxing and Thai Boxing in which I still compete, and I provide:

  • Free Consultation
  • Weight loss & Body sculpting
  • 1 to 1 Boxing & Thai boxing training
  • Pilates
  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Dieting advice
  • Exercise Programs

Get in touch today so we can start to Make That Change today.”

4.    Close

Thanks to everyone for your attendance and energy and the ideas to shape your network…

It was great to have the support of Grange Big Local who again co-hosted the meeting as well as the fabulous coverage in the East Finchley Community Facebook Group and of course The Archer newspaper.

Thanks to everyone who has been and is supporting the various food projects and a special thanks to the N2United committee who work so hard behind the scenes!

Look out for details on how we can all build on the ideas on improving our area and brining the ideas Roger shared to life.

The East Finchley community calendar is now live, and the directory will be available in the last week of January, look out for your entry!

Next Meeting

11 February 2021 at 8pm* via Zoom – open to everyone where we will build on the ideas shred tonight, keep safe, support our local businesses…

*Please note that we will be starting slightly later at 8pm to give those a chance to attend previously precluded due to work or childcare responsibilities.

Remember: The October 2021 meeting will see N2United turn five years old but how do we celebrate? Please send your ideas!