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April 2020
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Hackney: It’s All About Community

The residents of Clarence Road, Hackney, one of the worst affected areas in the borough, during last week’s devastating riots were out in force at a community organised tea party to reclaim their street. Backed by local residents, it was billed as a chance for reflection, a time for socialising and catching up.

The aim was to restore unity, reassure residents and local businesses, who stood helpless a week ago as they came under assault from the mob of rioters that the worst was over.  Sophie Linden, deputy mayor of Hackney, said: “Today’s tea party has been organised by the community, including St John at Hackney church, and is supported by the Council. It is a community response to the appalling events of last week. It is a response to the small minority of individuals who through criminal acts damaged the community. This event shows the true community spirit of the vast majority of Hackney residents. This is further evidence of the community pulling together to restore confidence.”

With tea and cake served, in attendance were kids, teenagers and adults from different works of life and race, including the local vicars, youth workers and community leaders. It was neither a festive or sombre event. It was also a time to remind residents about the plight of those, who had suffered as a result of the mayhem that was unleashed on the street as police battled yobs. Shiva Kandiah is one of the victims of the riots, he suffered the most when his shop was looted and badly damaged. It is reported Kandiah ‘was reduced to tears as he surveyed his wrecked convenience store.’  A website, Save Siva’s Shop has since been set-up to help raise funds for him rebuild his business. In an interview last week, Kandiah said:  “I believe in Hackney. I believe in this community. I am filled with hope.”

Norman, a resident of the Clarence Road, explained how the local Marks and Spencer, also affected by the acts of destruction, supplied cakes for the street tea party. She hopes it brings people together. “Except the looters. We don’t want them here.”

Jane MacIntyre, Hackney resident and one of the organisers, who runs the Hackney Homemade weekend market which has been used as a platform for raising awareness and funds for Kandiah’s shop 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.” While the night was not primarily about raising funds, MacIntyre says there were collection boxes out. So far, the website dedicated to saving Siva’s shop has raised £20,091.87. MacIntyre adds that Kandiah’s aims to reopen his shop before the end of the week.

Meanwhile, there are those who think some of the looters could well be in the crowd, enjoying the street tea party.  Ma, who runs Finger Licking Caribbean Takeaway, says she has no sympathy for the looters because what happened was nothing but ‘vandalism and thieving.’ When asked why people had come out for the evening and how she hopes it helps the community, 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.” A song that is becoming too familiar across the media as people up and down the nation talk about the root causes of the riots. Nevertheless, Clarence Road and its residence are looking forward to the future.


Note: Some names have been changed.

For more information about Siva and restoring his shop, visit: Save Siva’s Shop

For more information about Hackney Homemade, visit: Hackney Homemade 


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