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How ‘amazing’ Islington responded to Grenfell Tower disaster

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:22 29 June 2017

Volunteers sort through donations at St John's Community Centre for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Picture: Catherine Davison

Volunteers sort through donations at St John's Community Centre for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

The Grenfell Tower disaster happened seven miles away from Islington. It would have been easy for our community to look the other way. But it didn’t.

A donation opened in the Mayville and Elthorne Estates for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: Rick Findler/PAA donation opened in the Mayville and Elthorne Estates for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: Rick Findler/PA

After waking up to the horror of the tower block blaze in west London on Wednesday morning, the people of Islington took just hours to take action.

By 1pm, a collection point had been set up at Mildmay Community Centre, in the Mildmay Estate.

Throughout the day, an “endless stream” of volunteers and people visited to donate clothes, food, toiletries and bedding for the people of Grenfell Tower. The final donation came at 9pm.

It was organised by Lisa Prest, who lives on the estate. She said: “Londoners have taken some knocks recently, but there’s a great spirit within this city. People’s generosity and kindness today has proven this.”

Volunteer Nicoletta Wylde added: “The response has been overwhelming. With just one tweet we got the word out and we have filled hundreds of bags within just a few hours.

Volunteers sort through donations at St John's Community Centre for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Picture: Catherine DavisonVolunteers sort through donations at St John's Community Centre for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Picture: Catherine Davison

“One gentleman even donated a laptop and set up a guest account so residents could contact their loved ones from the shelters.”

It was a similar story in St John’s Community Centre, in the Elthorne Estate, yesterday.

Volunteer Lisa Kelly, who lives on the estate, said: “I know Celia from the centre and I wanted to create a drop-off for donations. She said it was OK to have access, so I put an appeal post on Facebook about it and it went a bit viral.”

The confirmed death toll is 30 – but police expect the figure to rise. And Lisa said: “I was horrified by what happened to the people in that tower. And those who got out literally had nothing left, apart from what they were wearing when they escaped.”

“The amount of donations we received was amazing. We filled two vans and two taxis, which delivered the items to Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on Thursday. I want to thank everyone, as well as Duncombe School, Archway Children’s Centre and St Mary Mag’s Nursery.

“I’ve still been getting messages today. Eventually I had to say we couldn’t take any more.”

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