I woke up on Tuesday morning and saw my city devastated. What had once been fear was now anger and I was determined to do something to help those affected by the unnecessary destruction of homes and local businesses..
A friend of mine wanted to drive around and collect clothing and bedding for the people made homeless by the riots. I jumped at the chance to help.
In our tiny Peugeot 206 we drove all over north London. Everything was organised via Twitter. My friend and I both have a strong online presence so we asked our followers for help. My tweets were even on BBC News as people rallied behind us. We received so much interest that we soon had enough bookings to keep us going for days.. Local musicians like Kate Nash even contacted me and asked if she could help in any way. Businesses like the Scarecrow Boutique in Crouch End and the Camden Barfly offered us excess stock and spare items. The response was amazing.
My friend drove like crazy while I made phone call after phone call, tweet after tweet. It was difficult to manage because we were relying on our phone batteries not running out. Everything was so frantic that I had to be very precise with my planning or else we’d lose buckets of time in traffic. In our rush, we once drove off with the boot wide open. It wasn’t till people started beeping that we realised.
Over the course of two days we spent over 20 hours on the road, driving between council flats in Camden and mansions in Belsize Park. People were unbelievably kind; from the poor student, to the wealthy banker.. One guy gave us an electric guitar, and a man called Efrem gave us 800 t-shirts! Can you imagine? These people are heroes.
Once full we drove the car to the Tottenham Leisure Centre where the Salvation Army had set up a room to collect all the donations. The items would then be sorted and distributed to families made homeless by riots. We tweeted the address; posted it on the BBC Website and contacted local MP’s to make sure people knew the importance of this service.
But what next? Haringey has one of the highest unemployment rates in London. Funding has been cut and youth centres closed. So many jobs require a degree, minimum. Unpaid internships – modern-day slavery – need to be abolished. Cut elitism and nepotism from places like the print industry, for example. Make more jobs available that don’t need tons of work experience.. Everyone deserves a chance, and it’s about time employers realised that a short CV isn’t an indication of failure or apathy.
Make no mistake, however. The majority of the rioters were not disenfranchised teenagers but simply opportunistic thieves who preyed on the vulnerability of a police force caught off guard. This wasn’t an uprising. In a revolution you bring down a corrupted elite, not your hardworking neighbours.