Tea party time lets locals restore street spirit

Clarence Road. Pic: Belinda Otas

Residents of Clarence Road, Hackney, scene of one the worst outbreaks of rioting last week came out in force on Monday for an open air tea party aimed at reclaiming their community spirit.

The event was designed to restore unity among local residents, shops and other businesses  – some of which had come under assault during the riot –  and to help the community find its feet again.  The event was supported by Hackney Council and local community leaders while the local branch of Marks and Spencers, helped with the catering.

Sophie Linden, the deputy mayor of Hackney, said: ”It is a response to the appalling events of last week and  the small minority of individuals who through criminal acts damaged the community. This event shows the true spirit of the vast majority of Hackney residents. This is further evidence of local people pulling together to restore confidence.”

Tea and cakes were served from trestle tables in the street to a groups which included children, teenagers and adults, representatives of local churches, youth workers and community leaders. One local resident who was present said the atmosphere was ‘neither festive or sombre, but about people pulling together.’ Another said: “I hope it brings people together, except the looters. We don’t want them here.”

Jane MacIntyre, a local resident, who also runs the Hackney Homemade, weekend market added: “It was great to see lots of members of the community reclaiming the street. Something dark happened on the street a week ago. This was about creating good memories to replace that.”

Many local people have donated to the £20,000 raised for Clarence Road shopkeeper Shiva Kandiah, whose convenience store was looted and badly damaged during the disturbances.

A website, Save Siva’s Shop, has been set up to help raise funds for him to rebuild his business.  Kandiah, who was said to have been in tears as he surveyed his wrecked premises, said in an interview last week: “I believe in Hackney. I believe in this community. I am filled with hope.”  The store aims to reopen before the end of the week.

The damaged shop. Pic: Belinda Otas

Another local resident, ‘Ma’ who runs a Caribbean food takeaway, says she had no sympathy for the looters because what happened was nothing but ‘vandalism and thieving.’ When asked why people had come out, she said: “They are coming together because of the food. They should bring the boys who mashed up the man’s shop to clean it. The boys need something to do.”

Save Siva’s Shop:  http://www.helpsiva.com/

Hackney Homemade: http://www.hackneyhomemade.com/


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