A Community Tale

community shop

30/04/2021

I am going to share with you a story that I came across last year and have been following ever since. It has all the elements that I look for in a good story, especially in these challenging times; it sits at the heart of a community, it is borne out of necessity, it empowers young people and has a heroine!

It starts when lockdowns were first implemented across the country last year as people lost their jobs and struggled to make ends meet. This was the reality for many residents of the Kingsmead estate, Hackney. Another reality for the estate were the high levels of youth violence prior to the pandemic. This combination could potentially have led to heightened tensions within the community, but what happened was quite the opposite. This reverse was due to the deliberate intervention of Joyclen Brodie-Mends who “decided to make sure that the estate and the community surrounding it had the support they desperately needed.”

Joyclen is the founder of youth organisation 365, helping young people in the area. She set up a community food shop at the beginning of the pandemic as a way of helping those in need. The scale of the task was huge – delivering over 30,000 hot meals and being able to deliver food bags to 300 households over a weekend – Joyclen decided to enlist young people, living locally to help with the project. 20 teenagers signed up to help, from sourcing the food, to packaging and delivery.

Speaking about her project and the impact it has had on those she enlisted to help Joyclen said “it’s something engaging and meaningful to do in their communities and gets them off the estates. Young people are usually associated with crime and negativity. We want to empower them and show there is nothing off-limits for young people.”

Listening to the teenagers speak of their involvement with the project you get a real sense of pride and purpose. It has also been directly linked to them taking a different direction as Marvin explains “I’ve lived on the estate my whole life. I’ve seen friends go down the bad path, I didn’t want to go down that path.” As one of the older members of the group Marvin also believes he can have a positive impact on the younger ones “I feel like they look up to me and I might change someone’s outlook.”

I think it is fair to say, The Community Shop is a success story!

Follow their story on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Source; Screenshot-media.