Over it’s lifetime, London has seen more than it’s fair share of hard times. From the Blitz in World War Two which saw entire families, homes and streets torn apart, to the terror attacks we have seen over the last ten years both above and below ground to the tragedy that occurred today in a high-rise apartment building in West London, this magnificent city has had trying times.
One of the most famous in the world, London has always been my favourite city. Perhaps it is because of the history, perhaps it’s because of the people or perhaps it’s because it’s my home: it has always held a special place in my heart.
The diversity here, the beauty, the culture, the fun, the strength. It’s contagious, it’s mesmerising, it’s everything. I have been a stranger in this city and I have been a friend, it has watched and nurtured me and supported me as I have grown. Twenty three years ago a south-west London hospital welcomed me into this world and it’s neighbours have done nothing but welcome me since. Restaurants, cafes, tube stations, full of people who have been welcomed by this great city with open arms.
By the world we are considered a grumpy bunch; lacking in neighbourly spirit and nothing short of rude on main roads and the circle line, but to our own we are known as so much more than that. We might grumble, we might moan, we might not smile much, but boy are we amazing.
London, in the aftermath of a crisis is the most beautiful city in the world.
This morning I awoke to discover that an apartment block in a part of London that I called home for three years, was burning. My dad, who could see it happening from his house, called me and told me to donate what I could. Twenty minutes later I got in my car with a boot full of clothes and headed towards Latimer Road. Pulling onto Shepherd’s Bush roundabout I saw, for the first time, the building, still on fire. I burst into tears.
Arriving at one of the rescue centres I opened my boot and was nearly moved once more to tears as people arrived to help us carry our donations. We were then told by the shelter that they had all of the clothes that they needed.
How truly incredible. I was there by 10am. Not three hours after London woke up to this news, the shelters had been inundated with donations. Doors opened, wardrobes emptied, love pouring out by the bucket load.
This crisis, this tragedy is ongoing. London is still burning. London is still bleeding. How this can happen in the 21st Century is beyond belief. It’s a question that needs to be asked, but not today. And London knows that. Today is not about blame. Today is sad, it is so sad, and the priority here is love and support. Churches, Mosques, homes, all open, all offering support.
It has been reported that Stella Mcartny's chef arrived on scene this morning and made an emergency lunch for 300 people featuring artichoke. I have seen that Jim Chapman has booked hotel rooms for people affected. And then I have seen thousands and thousands of normal people all asking the same thing: WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
And THAT is London.
London is kind. It is beautiful and beyond anything it is so strong.
My heart is broken for the people involved in this tragedy. I cannot imagine what your life looks like today, what an ordeal you have gone through. I do hope you know though, that your city is behind you.
London is my city. Eight million people will say the same thing. The same eight million people who woke up this morning and thought exactly the same thing: what can I do to help?
Although the shelters do seem to have enough in the way of clothes at the moment, I am lead to believe that beds are still required. If you have a spare bedroom, please let someone know. Equally in the coming days I’m sure clothing, bedding and food will still be in demand so perhaps wait for that. There is a donation page HERE.