High Town Peace Garden

High Town has been lucky enough to get its very own Peace Garden thanks to work by Grassroots, Luton Council of Faiths, St Matthews School plus many other local residents and groups. The garden was launched as part of the LCoF annual Peace Walk in September. Below is the journey of the High Town Peace Garden from start to the launch. Go and take a look for yourself. It is just behind High Town Methodist Church.

NOAH Receive Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

NOAH Enterprise has been given the 2017 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for “Recognising the dignity and worth of homeless people by supporting them from the streets and into the community”.

Jim O’Connor MBE, NOAH’s Chief Executive, says that, “The award has been described by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, as having the equivalent status for voluntary groups as the MBE has for individuals. I am particularly thrilled for this recognition of our c300 volunteers who do so much to make possible the services that NOAH provides to people who are homeless, rough sleeping and otherwise destitute. This is done so generously in so many ways, whether it is by serving meals each evening in our Centre, working in our kitchen at breakfast and lunchtimes throughout the week and weekend, assisting in our charity shops, taking part in our delivery of welfare services or acting as trustees.

 To give some idea of scale, in the past year, 664 different people came to our Luton daycentre for support, (over 22,916 distinct visits with an average of 63 people per day). 16,413 lunches were served, 5,669 breakfasts enjoyed, 9,118 soups handed out, 2,265 Showers taken, and 730 Nightshelter bed spaces provided.”

Foodbank Cook Book – Ready for Launch!

Over the last several months a team of people have pulled together a project around food and creating a community led cook book. Helen Jones one of the leaders of the project explained “The Luton cook book project has been inspired by the work of Nicholas Bourriaud an art critic and curator who coined the term Relational Aesthetics. This happens when artists facilitate social events that audiences participate in to make positive changes in their community. The artists act as the conduit and put into place the foundations for the social experiment to happen, creating a positive outcome for the community.”

For this project a group of local artists have collaborated on the recipe collecting, writing, workshop delivery and graphic work to produce the cook book. The information will next be presented  in the form of a photocopiable book and database, a 100 of which will be given to Luton food bank and its umbrella organisations. The pages of the book can be copied and placed in the clients food boxes. The book contains recipes that use food bank or low cost items, allotments info, budget tips, grow your own veg tips for the windowsill or garden, charity shops to get low cost household items, lunch and social clubs, citizens advice and credit union contacts. The cook books aim is to help people on low income improve their chances of good budget living.

Local artist Darrel Inns who has contributed artwork to the cook book said “I wanted to create a series of townsfolk characters to guide the reader through the cook book. Luton is a very diverse and culturally rich town and I wanted to highlight this diversity. The characters have a united outlook and often get together to share recipes and cook together sometimes they make a mess but they always make each other smile. They are a cheeky bunch of characters who look forward to cooking with you, the reader, now!”

Fiona Morton who collated, edited and put together the layouts of the recipes in the cook book said “It was really inspiring to read people’s family stories some touching, some funny and I tried to keep that sense of community and love and humour in the recipes. We had recipes from local churches, community groups, WI members and Luton people who were keen to share their energy and penny saving ideas.” Contributions were even sent over from the USA, Canada and other parts of the UK.

Mary Hearne was also involved in the team bringing this project to life and helped to organise various events, first of which was a series of poster making sessions with the aim to exhibit at the cook book launch. Community groups were encouraged to create posters based around food, food bank staples and budgeting tips. Their also held a micro funding evening at Flamingo Arts in High Town, which Mary’s role was to organise and host the event.  She told us “We held discussions on food poverty, social justice and environmental issues whilst serving up a choice of 2 soups, the recipes of which appear in the cookbook.” There were also several drawing tasks that attendees could participate in, including a ‘still life’ of a few foodbank staples. Throughout this entire project particular attention has been paid to offering a non judgmental and inclusive environment for all involved. See a video of the event below.

The next event will of course be the exciting launch of the finished cook book, which will be held at Luton Central Library on Tuesday 2nd May and will run all week until Tuesday 9th May. Their will also be a children’s poster making workshop being held on Saturday 6th May 12-4pm.

Click here to find out more about the launch

High Town really has got talent

As the warmer weather moves us closer to this year’s High Town Festival in the summer we have a quick look back to December last year where a crowd of enthusiastic supporters cheered on the participants in the first ever High Town’s Got Talent event which took place just before Christmas on Saturday 17th December.

The winners, singer-songwriter duo Badgers & Rum, aka Pixie Styx and Dave Pike, received a cheque for £50 and the opportunity to have a spot at the High Town Festival in 2017. Speaking after their victory, Pixie said: “The level of talent that has been here – it was so unexpected, it was unreal.”

A jury of Luton luminaries, comprising singer Corene Campbell of Voices With Soul, actor Nish Nathwani from BBC1 hit comedy Citizen Khan and 33Jazz label owner Paul Jolly chose the pairing over seven other acts.
The competition, held at the Hightown Community Sports & Arts Centre, was the first one organised by residents’ association Friends of High Town (FoHT). FoHT Chair David Landau said: “We got money from Luton Borough Council’s Participatory Budget scheme to run this as a one-off community event. However, it has been so much fun that we are thinking of doing it again and reaching out to even more people who would like a chance to appear at the High Town Festival.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring a future event should get in touch on info@friendsofhightown.org


Watch a short video below recapping the event and don’t forget to mark Saturday 1st July in your diary for this year’s High Town Festival. Find out more at hightownfestival.org

Click here to view more pictures on our Facebook page