London fire: Sense of community shines through


Condolence message: Bonds formed in fire are difficult to break - our community will always stand together.

A car park beneath the rumble of the Westway – one of the main routes into central London – is a hive of activity.

A mountain of bags filled with food, water, clothing and sanitary products are being sorted through.

One man puts together cardboard boxes and hands them on to a line of volunteers who arrive at the gate, pointing them towards others for instructions.

A sign asking for no more donations is at the entrance – they’re overwhelmed.

Kensington and Chelsea council says it has been “inundated” with items donated for the Grenfell Tower fire victims and has asked people to hold off bringing any more.

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Bhupinder Singh worked in a crisis distribution centre all night

Bhupinder Singh is one of the volunteers and has been here all night.

He believes people are at their best during times of trouble: “This is where you find out how good it is to live in England and how good it is to be a Londoner.”

He says managers from Crossrail have offered warehouse space to store the surplus goods, but they are desperate for more warehouses and van drivers to transport the donations so they can be processed and distributed.

A short distance away is the sports centre, where more items have been sorted and are piled on a football pitch.

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Many people are not even slightly surprised by the community’s response.

One woman says: “People from all races live around here. People from all faiths are all helping. It’s wonderful to see”.

Sixth form student Kai Chappell should have been in school but as it is within the police cordon, it is closed. He, other students, and school staff are volunteering for a second day.

“There is a great sense of community in this area and our school is built into that,” he says.

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Eldora Edward, a drama teacher, taught some children a street dance to take their minds off the fire

Eldora Edward lives locally and came down to Latymer Community Church to volunteer.

A performance arts teacher by profession, she says she went into “full tutor mood” after seeing some upset children – and taught them a group street dance.

They performed for some firefighters who were resting under a nearby tree.

“It took the young people’s minds off what was happening and cheered up the firemen,” she says.

Money ‘to buy sweets’

She’s now organising a disco for youngsters tomorrow but today has teamed up with another Londoner called Gary who has bought £300 in change with him.

They’ve wrapped the money up into £3 bundles and plan to give them to children “so they can buy some sweets or something to cheer them up”.

Ms Edward says she’s not surprised by the reaction of the community: “There is already a great sense of community around here so when you’re in need it only gets better.”

On a wall close to the car park, locals leave messages of condolence.

Near the bottom in blue ink a note sums up the feeling here: “Bonds formed in fire are difficult to break – our community will always stand together.”

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Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-40287091

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