I mentioned in a previous post about the fantastic work that was happening at the St Mary’s Respite Centre and Pop-Up Canteen in Walthamstow for weary and hungry policemen
I went along Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sunday. I meant to go in on Monday & Tuesday this week (which was the last day it ran) but with everything that happened on Monday, I had actually just shut myself away and cried for two days solid!
I enjoyed every single minute that I was there – it was a fantastic opportunity to show the police how much the work that they do is appreciated, and to feel that we had managed to do something so good that it felt like it made up for the attrocities of the looters.
There was one two-hour stretch on Friday evening where we managed to serve about 250 hot meals to various police officers – including riot squad, dog unit and street pastors…the place was absolutely buzzing!
On Sunday, we put out a Tweet for more cake (police can get through a LOT of cake – as per this BBC article that our centre was mentioned in but not named). Every time a tweet for supplies was put out, we would get innundated with donations really quickly, so it came as a bit of a surprise when over an hour later we still hadn’t really received any cakes. It became obvious WHY pretty soon after that though – that was the time it had taken locals to BAKE the cakes!!
Oh no, no Mr Kiplings for OUR coppers, they get homemade lemon drizzle cake, malteaser cake, lemon polenta cake, apple muffins with fresh cream, blueberry muffins, aubergine cake, beautiful little cupcakes with E17 iced onto them. THAT was why there was a delay!
It’s been a totally uplifting experience – and I am in complete awe of the people who put so much work into it, rushing around handing out food and serving the police and generally giving a massive morale boost to everyone they came into contact with – so a special mention to Dean, Wifey, Frances, Jess, Faye, Carolyn, Mel, Ali, Ann-Marie, Amy and Hannah who were amazing! (I know I’ve probably missed someone important out, but I am emotionally-crippled at the moment, and I’m sure I will be let off!)
We also made the front page of the local Waltham Forest Guardian, which was nice!
And finally to just part of our amazing wall of thanks from the police.
Well, it’s been a funny old week for the UK, hasn’t it? Luckily, since my last post, there hasn’t really been any more trouble in London.
A lot of this has probably been due to the heavily ‘advertised’ huge police presence on the streets of London – 16,000 police have been enlisted across the capital – 10,000 than there were on Monday night, which I believe was double the usual amount as it was!
We still haven’t had any trouble in Walthamstow, but there has been a massive number of additional police (not surprising considering our close proximity to Tottenham (our house is less than a mile from where Mark Duggan was shot, to put it in perspective). I had heard that the local police (I can’t speak for others) have had their canteens closed over recent years (don’t know when exactly) and so our MP suggested to a local church group that they open their building as a respite centre to give tea and coffee.
The wonderful Andy jumped on the idea, and it just grew from there – it didn’t take much to convince our fantastic local community to donate both food & drink and their time. On Tuesday, the St Mary’s Respite Centre was up and running and serving many tired, hungry policemen (and other emergency services).
I managed to get along Wednesday night for 2.5 hours, making sandwiches, serving police and getting to know some of the others who I hadn’t met before – always great to meet community-spirited locals! I even managed to get a chance to chat to our lovely Borough Commander Steve Wisbey who told us what had been happening locally, and what plans for the immediate future were. It was great to have our minds put to rest – and he was a jolly nice fella too! It was great to be able to come home and tell The Girl what was going on, as she had found the whole situation ‘a bit scary’.
I went along again last night for about the same length of time, and this time saw more people that I knew, as well as others from the previous night – and there seemed to be even more police there tonight. It was a fantastic atmosphere, even when it got extremely busy and I didn’t have a momen’ts respite from preparing jacket potatoes, chilli, sausages or paninis (yes reall – we are THAT sophisticated in our charity here in the Stow!) I was surprised how much I enjoyed it all!
Last night the police wrote a load of thank you messages for us, which were really touching – especially a couple who wrote poems – it was great to feel that our efforts were so appreciated (photo of the board from Martin’s pics)!
I will definitely be going along again tomorrow, and probably on Sunday too. I’d love to hear if anywhere else in London has been doing similar.
Much kudos to the church group – especially Andy, Dean, Nic and Frances who have been tireless in their support, organising the volunteers, getting the word out, gaining the support of local businesses etc and actually making this happen – an amazing bunch of people!
Just a normal girl
I recently turned 40 (eek - how did THAT happen?) I'm a Londoner - mother, lover and little kitty owner.
I do the normal London things. I'm really just pretty run-ofthe-mill!
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