Christchurch Green in Wanstead has a mixture of memories for me.

I walk across there all the time and at this time of year, it is especially idyllic - sun shining, people out exercising, children playing and others just relaxing.

A balmy evening walk through the tree-lined paths to the high street is another pleasure.

However, those paths also hold darker memories. One from 2001, when I was heading over to the high street to get a bit of shopping and a guy stepped out from behind a tree and asked for my wallet. I pushed him aside, then another came and another.

I managed to get past all three and attempted to run to the high street, but the gang were well organised – eight in total. As I made the attempted run to the other side, a shout came from behind to “trip him.” I was duly tripped by another guy sliding across me.

There was then a frenzied attack, kicks and I later found a knife round the back. They got the wallet eventually.

I made it to the high street, when the police were called. They came quickly, taking me round the streets to see if I could spot the attackers.

Unfortunately, they’d gone. There has always been crime in this area. Cutting the police does not help confront it. One of the plus points that came out of my attack was the campaign to save Wanstead Police station (a campaign championed by the Guardian at the time). It remained open, until relatively recently.

So yes there are things we can do to confront crime. One important thing that came from my attack was a determination not to be intimidated.

The psychological effects immediately after the attack meant I didn’t like walking alone on the streets. But a couple of months later, I was due to go up to South Woodford to see a friend. It was then I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to let those who had mugged me reduce my freedom of movement. I walked and there were no problems.

I tell the story because there are many threats to our open spaces and community. It is vital that people come together as community to confront those threats. So we should not let those who try to destroy our community succeed.

The mass of people, who enjoy spaces like Christchurch Green, need to make sure it remains an area for the people to enjoy, not somewhere where people are concerned to go at night, a place where daybreak can reveal vandalised benches and the fruits of other anti-social behaviour.

Many of those doing this sort of damage are part of our communities. They don’t all come in from other parts of London to the promised land that is Wanstead.

We need to stand together to stop such attacks on our precious public spaces. Without them we will be a far poorer community.

Paul Donovan blogs at