The community website for Forest Hill and Honor Oak, London SE23
Events | Features | Forum | Local Books | Contact

Forum Archive
Lewisham- one of the worst places to ...

Author Message
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 18 April, 2007 - 08:35 pm:   

Today it was announced that Lewisham, Waltham Forest, and Haringey were the worst boroughs in London and practically the worst places in the UK to bring up children. According to the Telegraph, these are the reasons;

''Good state schools and health care, low crime, affordable housing, proximity to the coast and the weather were all cited by parents as factors determining how attractive an individual place was to bring up their children.''

Well I'm not the expert, but I am surprised Lewisham fared so badly. Maybe I'm biased having lived only in the south of the borough, but even the estates to the north have seen a lot of regeneration in recent years. Lewishams primary schools are also highly rated.

Near to the coast? Its 40 minutes to 1 hour from East Croydon.

Crime- not the worst borough for this surely, and certainly not in the south of the borough. Before I moved here in 1984 everyone told me how ' rough' Lewisham was. Despite having a front line job in homelessness I found nothing of the sort but a strong sense of community from the start.

Affordable housing- surely still one of the most affordable parts of London for families with lots of green spaces?

Health care -well, the NHS services here are as good as it gets in London.

The weather? How come Scotland came out on top- it drizzles non stop when it isn't snowing or blowing a gale.

And how come we fared worse than Hackney? Think this poll is nonsense and poor PR for Lewisham. Any other views? Anyone want to challenge this?
Joined 09-04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 18 April, 2007 - 10:19 pm:   

It just shows that statistically you can prove what you like.
Daily Telegraph eh?
The weather in Lewisham has been fantastic for the last 3 weeks.
Joined 28-06-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 18 April, 2007 - 11:20 pm: ws/2007/04/18/nbest18.xml

For me, the interesting part is where they say:
"They concluded that 'if a single thread runs through the fabric of all these places, large and small, it is the golden one called "community" - the concerned neighbours, teachers and community groups that stand behind safe streets, strong schools and thriving towns.' "

Having recently come back from living several years in Japan, where they have 'community' in spades, it seems blindingly obvious to me that this is just what Britain has lost in the last few decades for the sake of a stronger economy.

In Japan, people still tend to live near where they grew up, working in the same company and living in the same house for most of their lives, even in places like Tokyo. Consequently people form very strong social networks. To give you some idea, if a Japanese person commits suicide by jumping in front of a train, their family has to pay a huge fine for the inconvenience caused. Japanese people don't think this is weird at all - it makes perfect sense. One for all and all for one.

In Britain, on the other hand, we've traded in all the benefits of close knit communities and close families for the a 'mobile' workforce. People live here a bit, there a bit, not talking to their neighbours, and move from workplace to workplace not getting to know the people they work with. It's particularly the case in London. A huge proportion of the population is transient, and doesn't really care. It might be good for big business, but is it good for us? Does the economy serve society, or does society serve the economy?

Anyway, the method used for the survey seems a bit spurious to me. By taking a sample from across the country and averaging the results, it's obvious that the places that are going to come out top will be the average, middle of the road, places - not the atypical places like very rural or very urban areas.

Can't say I'm that keen on some other parts of Lewisham, but Forest Hill is a pretty decent place to live. Possibly the best value for money in London in my opinion. And at least there's a sense of community here on I must say that having live in the area for over a year, my opinion of the place took a sharp turn for the better when I first found the site and realised that there are so many people around who actually care about the place. I had thought that way of thinking was dead in London.
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 19 April, 2007 - 08:31 am:   

My thoughts exactly about the survey method- I have never found this part of London at least to be short of community spirit even though you do have to work at it a little. I have always talked to my neighbours and found people very friendly from the minutes I moved here.
I grew up in Derry , NI,where ' community'/ communities' certainly existed but not strong enough to stop people killing each other.
I previously lived in Portsmouth as a student( very rough and hostile to incomers) , then Basingstoke ( just plain awful- sorry) followed by a brief spell in Glasgow. A lovely city and full of life, but not at all rosy from a quality of life point of view and very xenophobic to anyone not born and bred there.

Personally I think we also have bucketfuls of
'community', concerned neighbours, teachers and community groups, etc in Lewisham, even in the less leafy parts. I agree that community websites such as this really help from a communication/ideas sharing point of view and have a strong role to play in community cohesion. I am sure someone has done some research on this. I have looked at some other locally based websites and this seems to be one of the strongest on this.

OL's comments on Japan are very interesting- I had thought this would be the opposite.
Joined 09-01-2007
Posted on Thursday, 19 April, 2007 - 09:39 am:   

I moved here from Southwark 16 years ago. Mainly because Southwark was so bad. Talking to friends still living there it has got much worse in the intervenning years. Surveys can prove anything.
Joined 03-06-2005
Posted on Friday, 20 April, 2007 - 03:30 pm:   

Writing from 'Beyond SE23' (Sunny Sydenham!) where I have lived since 1979, I would say that this part of Lewisham has community spirit by the shedload! From events like the Sydenham Music Festival (one of the few areas in London other than Chelsea and Highgate to put on anything like this), to events like the annual Forest Hill Day where many local organisations have stands, a clutch of active amenity societies, the Sydenham Garden project, Hornimans etc (to name just a few)there are dozens of opportunities here for people to get involved and get to know each other. More recently, the community websites of and have provided forums which have stimulated communication and enabled new ventures such as the Honor Oak and the Dolphin to launch - and become wonderful amenities for the community. Sounds like the Telegraph's survey is deeply suspect.
Joined 26-04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 24 April, 2007 - 11:07 am:   

I (and other Lewisham families) was interviewed briefly for this by the Mercury and was very complimentary about our corner of Lewisham. The piece will be in Wednesday's edition.
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 24 April, 2007 - 01:37 pm:   

Having grown up in Forest Hill I think I can say that it is good place to be a child, and although we might not have some of the benefits of rural Scotland, there is much more for children to do in Forest Hill than in remote villages with only one local shop.

There are many people with justifiable criticisms of Lewisham council and the difficulties of bringing up children in inner London (see ). But Forest Hill is a very pleasant area of London and contains a good mix of young people, families, and older people.
Joined 12-10-2006
Posted on Saturday, 28 April, 2007 - 12:02 pm:   

The original article and survey are clearly nonsense as by their own criteria, London boroughs are all much the same distance from the coast and have the same weather, housing here is among the most affordable and the crime is second lowest in inner London.