Lockdown has thrown some light on what community actually means and how people rally round to help each other in whatever way they can. Lockdown with its restrictions has also been a problem for those of us who want to get together for some hands on, practical community activism.
Today, we managed to get back into action with some hard graft in Stanford-le-Hope. The two of us behind Alternative Estuary teamed up with two of our comrades from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) to help a stressed out property steward at Stanford-le-Hope Methodist Church. Many of the congregation at the church are elderly and had to shield during the lockdown. The usual volunteers who would step up to tend to the car park and garden by the church and the hall at the back simply weren’t available. So, as you can imagine, the weeds were starting to take over, with some reaching three or more feet in height!
As the Methodist Church is part of the fabric of the community in Stanford-le-Hope, to keep true to our principles of working at the grassroots to make a practical difference, this was one we couldn’t turn down. Also, the Methodist Church is pretty non-hierarchical, so we weren’t really going to be betraying any of our principles.
Anyway, we started at midday with our BASHA comrades joining us later and together after three hours hard graft, to put it bluntly, we smashed it! Even though it was a slog and we were shattered at the end, it felt good to have our crew back together again working on a practical task and making a tangible difference:)