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!