Saturday, 27 June 2009

A stressful encounter

What’s this six-wheeler doing parked across the elegant dark brick pathway which leads from Walthamstow Central across the pedestrianised Town Square to the heart of the market? (Yesterday) Apparently it’s The Well-Being Wagon, the brainchild of the Peabody Trust.

Peabody, along with other London housing associations, has been given £4.7 million from the Big Lottery Fund to set up Activate London, a group of projects aimed at promoting well-being.

And how better to promote well-being than driving around London in a large six wheel vehicle? And what a lovely green colour!

Millions of pounds are frittered away on Green spin and PR in a capital city where, to give just one example, cycle stand provision is laughably inadequate.

The Well-Being Wagon is a custom-built mobile classroom with 10 ICT workstations and internet access via satellite – hosting a range of activities, mainly using video conferencing links with Wellbeing Centres to beam live sessions such as cookery demonstrations and nutritional advice to a Smart Board and PC screens in the Wagon. Residents will also be able to use the internet to access “Ask Peabody” - a data base with information on all local Wellbeing services and activities. Staff will help people to explore the internet for the many healthy living websites world-wide for information on recipes, exercise, and alleviating stress.

The vehicle is parked a few yards from the entrance to Walthamstow Library, which has got rid of most of its book stock in order to transform itself into an internet emporium.

This wagon is not alleviating my stress. When I see vehicles parked in pedestrian zones my blood pressure rises. I have to go for a ride on my bicycle to calm down. But on the streets round here that just leads to more stress.