Green light for first Elmbridge Tree Warden Scheme

We are delighted that our application to Elmbridge Borough Council for CIL funding was agreed, enabling us to start the first Tree Warden Scheme in Elmbridge.

The new scheme will bring together local volunteers who are interested in improving their communities and who want to help Surrey towards its target of becoming a carbon-neutral county by 2030.

Work has begun in an area of woodland owned by Walton Charity, creating a space for the Tree Wardens to meet, store their equipment and, most importantly, start growing seedlings, ready to plant.

The events we are currently planning are:

  • Sunday 28th November, 10.30 am - 1.00 pm
    This will be our first tree planting event and we will be supporting Elmbridge Borough Council with community planting,
    Click here for full details:

  • During January we will be joining in with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations by planting a community orchard.

  • During February we are planning to plant a hedgerow in the new Tree Wardens’ hub.

There are lots of opportunities to get involved – from digging holes to growing seedlings or helping with the project admin. Email our Green Spaces Manager, Karen Heynike at to find out more, or follow our Facebook page.

Janette ButlerComment
Skilling up the next generation in construction

A Community Grant of £5,000 will enable SATRO to continue teaching practical construction skills to pupils at North East Surrey Short Stay School (NESSSS), a pupil referral unit in Hersham.


SATRO has been delivering its Mobile Construction programme to NESSSS students for more than six years. The pupils, who have been temporarily or permanently excluded from mainstream secondary schools, are given the opportunity to learn practical construction skills from SATRO’s team of experienced construction tutors.

The 2-hour long weekly sessions cover a wide range of introductory units including carpentry, joinery, plumbing, electrical installation, and bricklaying. The students have access to industry standard tools and equipment and can work towards their BTEC Level 1 qualification which is often vital for entry to further education or the workplace.

One of the course tutors, Ron, said: “The highlight of my week is walking into NESSSS. I first began working at NESSSS halfway through the previous academic year. Initially the students were an extremely tough crowd with very little engagement and zero eye contact. Slowly but surely my persistence began to ignite a spark of interest. The advantage that I have as a SATRO tutor rather than a “regular teacher” is that I can roll my sleeves up and work together with the learners. My goodness did my perseverance pay off!”

The change in these young people is profound. Their newly acquired skills and talent for the varied practical projects, particularly in carpentry and joinery, is only superseded by their enthusiasm. This year’s group of both male and female students are outperforming all of my other classes!
— Ron, Tutor
Janette ButlerComment
Charity on cloud nine with new IT system

Our Community Grant of almost £5,000, funding an upgrade to CHEER’s outdated IT system, is already making a huge difference, enabling staff to support more older people in Elmbridge.

CHEER is a local charity helping older people in Elmbridge to lead full and independent lives in their own homes. Their services are free of charge and include arranging regular one-to-one visits to people feeling isolated or lonely and arranging events to promote social interaction. They also help people to apply for benefits and link to other services such as carers.

I was so pleased to find CHEER. Before COVID I had been able to get out and about by myself, but during the lockdowns my sight, mobility and confidence all deteriorated, and I didn’t feel able to get out at all. CHEER helped put me in touch with Elmbridge transport services so I can go out when I need to, and also matched me with a lovely young volunteer who has given me a new lease of life with her vibrant chatty visits.
— A CHEER client

Our grant has enabled the charity to replace their slow, outdated IT system with an up-to-date cloud-based system, allowing them to manage their data securely and efficiently, and providing them with a good foundation for the future. The inclusion of 24/7 technical support increases productivity, allowing their staff to spend more time with their clients and less time on IT headaches.

The COVID pandemic has increased loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly and demand for CHEER’s services has grown. With the help of the grant, we have been able to expand our befriending service and support more of Elmbridge’s elderly.
— Janis Fletcher, CHEER Trustee
Janette ButlerComment
Juliet Hobbs toasts her time as a Walton Charity Trustee

I have been a trustee for Walton Charity for twelve years and was appointed Vice Chairperson in April 2014. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone from when I first started to think about giving something back by volunteering in my local community!

My day job, in Human Resources and People Leadership for a Professional Services company, has meant I’ve supported the Charity across a number of facets. It has enabled me to meet some great people, both working for the Charity and fellow trustees, but what I’ve loved most is learning about our local community. Going about your daily activities, you’re just not exposed to that. My knowledge and understanding of our local community has grown so much over the years.

Living in Walton, and very close to some of the Charity’s sheltered housing, has also played a key part in me feeling part of the Charity. I recently attended an event where a time capsule was buried in the grounds of one of our sheltered housing schemes. The capsule will be a poignant reminder in years to come of the pandemic as it was filled with items that symbolised life during the recent Covid lockdowns. It really captured the positivity and resilience of both our sheltered residents and the local community.

Reflecting on the past twelve years, the Charity has grown into such a forward-looking and enabling operation and it has been great to have been a part of it.

To anyone looking to be a trustee I’d say absolutely go for it! It’s a fantastic opportunity to do something different, learn about your local community, and build and embed relationships with incredible people. It really feels like you’re giving back.

Janette ButlerComment
Helping local children Back to School
Everything we do, we do for the children. We want everyone to have the same opportunities to learn.
— Lynn Williams, Head Teacher
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We talked to Lynn Williams, Head of Chandlers Field Primary School, about some of the challenges local families are facing since Covid-19, and why more children than ever need help with basics like school uniforms.

Q. Each year Walton Charity gives funding to schools across Elmbridge to support low-income families with school-related costs. How does this funding help pupils and families at your school?

We believe that everyone at our school should have the same opportunity to learn. The funding from Walton Charity enables children to take part in activities and trips that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. For example, each year we are able to offer funding, giving some children the chance to take part in a residential trip that they would have otherwise missed out on.

We are also able help a lot of families with everyday essentials like school uniforms and school shoes that they simply can’t afford. As a school we try to keep uniform cost down by selling iron-on badges rather than branded uniforms and offering a Uniform Exchange but there are still lots of families who need help.

Clothing, school shoes, pens and pencils are things that people often take for granted but can make a real difference to how children feel about going to school. Children just want to feel the same as everyone else. We don’t want anyone to feel different.

Q. What other kind of support do you offer to local families?

Everything we do, we do for the children. And many of the ideas for initiatives at the school come from the children themselves. Our Uniform Exchange not only helps families to access free uniform, it also encourages recycling and cuts down on waste which is important to our school.

This year, for the first time, we are introducing a gift of a stationery pack for children who are not able to get their own pens and pencils. It’s something we haven’t needed to do before.

During the Covid lockdowns and the school holidays we were also able to help with food for our families. There was often a delay between families registering for the government food box scheme and receiving supplies, so we stepped in and made sure families had food. We also helped with internet access and computers to support home schooling and opened the school to some of our most vulnerable children.

Q. Have you noticed an increase in demand for support since Covid hit last year?

There were families who were struggling before the pandemic so I wouldn’t say the demand is worse, but it is definitely more widespread. During the first lockdown we started to hear from (and about) families who have never needed help before. Our Family Support Worker has had to be proactive because many families who were struggling were reluctant (or didn’t know how) to ask for help.

Lockdown had a significant impact on lots of local families emotionally and financially. People lost their jobs or weren’t eligible for the furlough scheme. Some faced housing issues, and many struggled to cover the increased cost of being at home - especially the food and utility bills. We have helped a lot of families this year with back-to-school costs and expect to see the effects of lockdown and the pandemic, on some families, for at least another year.

Q. People are often surprised to hear that more than 12% of children across Elmbridge are living in poverty (according to End Child Poverty data). What is your experience of local poverty as a headteacher?

It’s worth remembering that the 12% is an average across the borough, there are some pockets within Elmbridge where poverty rates are much higher. A very high percentage of children at our school are eligible for Pupil Premium support and free school meals. It’s not what a lot of people would expect in Surrey.

Although we get Pupil Premium funding from the government to support the most vulnerable children at our school, there is a whole band of children who don’t quite meet the criteria but who need support. Funding from Walton Charity helps us to plug this gap and make sure no one at our school is left behind.

A child’s experience at primary school is paramount to their future. It sets them on a successful learning journey. We want to do everything we can to make sure it is a positive experience.

Last year Walton Charity gave Opportunities Funds to 11 local schools. We also funded catch up programmes, online learning and extra computers at schools across Elmbridge . Through our Back to School Appeal, we are helping more local children have a great start back to school this year.

Louise ElliottComment
Walton Charity Receives Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate of Appreciation
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On Monday 13th September, Walton Charity’s staff were both delighted and honoured to receive The Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate of Appreciation for our work during the Covid pandemic.

The presentations took place at a special event, held at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton, where six #Elmbridge organisations were presented with certificates from Deputy Lieutenant, Rob Douglas.

The Lord Lieutenant’s Certificates of Appreciation were launched in February 2021, with the aim of recognising those who contribute exceptional service to our local communities, but whose efforts are often overlooked.

During the pandemic, we totally changed the support model for our sheltered residents and our community allotment volunteers, ensuring that they felt safe and supported. Through a programme of virtual events and activities, they were able to keep in touch with staff and each other, learn new skills, and try their hand at new activities.

Recognising the increased need for financial support for both residents and local organisations, we increased our financial support and committed a record £557,579 in grants funding.

During lockdown, when children were unable to attend school, we launched our ‘Computers for Kids’ Appeal, and donated 57 new laptops to #Elmbridge schools, enabling underprivileged children to access home learning.

Other #Elmbridge organisations to receive awards were: Relate West Surrey, Home-Start Elmbridge, North West Surrey Samaritans, Walton & Hersham Foodbank, and The Surrey Coffee Co.

Janette ButlerComment
Mayor of Elmbridge buries lockdown time capsule

On 20 July - a day after Covid restrictions were eased across England - the Mayor of Elmbridge helped us to bury a time capsule filled with items that symbolise life during the recent lockdowns.

From handcrafted rainbows to face masks and ‘panic buy’ toilet rolls, the items in the time capsule will help future generations understand more about life during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our sheltered housing residents and volunteers from our Community Allotment also contributed recipes, letters and poems reflecting on their life during 2020.

Jackie Lodge, Walton Charity Chief Executive said, “As well as creating a historical record of what it was like to live and work during a national lockdown, we wanted to capture the ways Walton Charity and its partners supported the local community during the pandemic. We were also keen to capture the positivity and resilience of both our sheltered residents and the local community.”

The time capsule is buried in the gardens of Mayfield, one of our sheltered housing properties.

Janette ButlerComment
Tackling food poverty in Elmbridge with Brite Box

A Community Grant of £17,000 will give 60 vulnerable families across Elmbridge the opportunity to enjoy cooking a meal together every Friday, starting in September.

Already working in Richmond, Kingston and Southwark, the Brite Box project delivers weekly meal kits to families facing food insecurity and teaches children to cook nutritious meals on a budget, to be enjoyed by the whole family. Voices of Hope, who run the project, hope that the children will have fun learning new skills, and develop a love of cooking. At the end of this year-long project, the budding young chefs will be invited to a graduation party to celebrate their achievements.

Feeding Britain found 1 in 4 adults looking after children had eaten less during the pandemic in order to be able to feed the children in their households

According to the End Child Poverty campaign, there were 3805 children across Elmbridge living in poverty in 2019/2020, with many more families plunged into crisis over the last year as a result of the pandemic. Tackling child poverty in Elmbridge is one of Walton Charity’s funding priorities and we are keen to work with local partners to tackle this growing issue.

Janette ButlerComment
Bridging the Learning Gap at Chandlers Field School

A £6,000 Community Grant to Chandlers Field School will support a catch-up programme for Year 4 students, helping to boost literacy skills following the recent school closures.

The grant will fund a qualified teacher to deliver a 6-week programme focusing on phonics, reading, comprehension and writing. This 1:1 support will make up for lost face-to-face teaching time during lockdown and help to bridge the learning gap.

Lynn Williams, Head Teacher of Chandlers Field School said:

“We were delighted to receive this funding; it has filled a gap that the government funding did not stretch to. We are delighted to be able to provide additional support for these children following such challenging times and know that it will make a significant difference to them.”

Improving educational attainment for disadvantaged students is one of Walton Charity’s funding priorities. The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent school closures has disproportionately impacted poorer students and the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is expected to grow.

Janette ButlerComment
Summer holidays sorted

Six weeks of summer holidays are great fun for children, but for working parents, the school summer holidays can be stressful as they face the extra cost of good quality childcare.

We are delighted to offer a small grant to Acorns, a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing excellent childcare from its base at Walton Oak School since 1999. Our grant will help towards staffing costs for their summer holiday scheme, supporting low-income families.

Learn more about our Community Grants, aimed at tackling inequality in Elmbridge.

Janette ButlerComment
Our Community Allotment has been Yarn Bombed!

On 1st June, we celebrated the return of our volunteers to our Community Allotment by yarn bombing* the allotment site!

On Terrace Road, our largest allotment site is home to our Community Allotment, where people from all walks of life get involved in growing food. The project encourages social inclusion and is targeted at those who face barriers as a result of physical or mental health conditions, learning disabilities, or simple isolation.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly highlighted the need for social and therapeutic horticulture. With many of our Community Allotment volunteers already dealing with isolation, anxiety, and other social issues, at the onset of the pandemic they suddenly faced the fear of losing this vital support.


However, our Land & Estates Manager, Karen Heynike, rose to the challenge and initially ran 1:1 or small groups, whenever the guidance allowed, then during the winter months provided a ‘lifeline’ by switching to a virtual programme when small groups were not permitted.

Participants took part in group activities and were kept busy with activity packs and meal-making kits. Between sessions, they received links to interesting podcasts and online talks too. The varied programme gave them the opportunity to learn new skills and helped them remain engaged and better cope with the stresses of the pandemic.

One of the activities that really enthused participants was the goal of creating an NHS rainbow, made entirely with woollen pompoms, to decorate the Community Allotment. Volunteers were so keen, that Karen decided to expand the project to crochet and knitting, with a plan to yarn bomb the allotment site, with not only the NHS pompom rainbow but also a knitted blue sky with crocheted suns, clouds, knitted grass, and lots more including crochet butterflies, bugs and vegetables.

Follow our Community Allotment on Facebook

*A yarn bomb is a form of street art where yarn in any form decorates an object in the public environment. Yarn installations are a bit like graffiti but aren’t permanent or destructive. The craze was started in America by a lady named Magda Sayeg when she covered her doorknob with a knitted cozy and before long started knitting scarves and hats for statues around her home town in Houston.

Janette ButlerComment
The KT One Two Football Project Kicks Off Again
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We are pleased to be able to continue supporting a local football project for a further year, enabling them to offer free-of-charge football sessions on a weekly basis.

The KT One Two project, professionally coached by Elite Sporting Provision, is delivered three times a week from
Walton Oak School in Ambleside Avenue, Walton. The sessions are aimed at children who live in St Johns, Field Common, Longmore, and Vicarage Fields estates and supports up to 60 children from 6 to 14 years of age.

The project is particularly aimed at children who may miss out on the chance to engage in social and sporting programmes during their junior years. It provides the opportunity to learn skills, build confidence, make social connections, as well as improving physical, mental, and social well-being.

One parent said “I have three boys that attend the football sessions with Adam and Mark. Two of them go on Monday and the other on Tuesday. We can’t afford to send the boys to football clubs …………. The sessions are the highlight of the boy’s week and ask all the time if it’s on next week! They say the best bit is to be with their ‘football friends’ even if it’s raining!”

Louise ElliottComment