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Hackney people pull together to support each other through second lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:30 06 November 2020

Patricia Wakaimba from The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House Project

Patricia Wakaimba from The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House Project

The Water House Project

A Hackney MP says the government “acted late” and made “the situation worse” following an announcement for a second national coroanvirus lockdown.

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano CagnoniHackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch said, with the rate of infection increasing, there was “little choice” but to lockdown but added, there could have been “greater certainty” over what support would be provided to citizens and businesses.

She said: “The government has acted late, again, which has made the situation worse than it needed to be.

“The announcement of extending furlough, for example, came too late for those who had already been made redundant.

“There are still thousands of freelancers in Hackney who have not had a penny since March and the impact of this latest lockdown on events, hospitality and the creative industries is hitting Hackney hard.

Free school meals cooked by The Water House Project during October half-term. Picture: The Water House ProjectFree school meals cooked by The Water House Project during October half-term. Picture: The Water House Project

The MP continued: “Many residents in low paid, insecure jobs who were already only just surviving day to day have nothing to fall back on to ride the storm and most can’t work from home.

Ms Hillier urged people to shop local over the next few weeks to support independent businesses and said food banks are “vital” for many families “who see little hope ahead”.

She also called Hackney businesses one of the “Hallmarks” of the borough.

Mare Street restaurant The Water House Project started cooking meals for school children during the October half-term and are “in the process” of talks with local charities and community run initiatives to help throughout lockdown set to commence on November 5.

The restaurant plans to work with local charities and community run initiatives to help out during the lockdown. Picture: The Water House ProjectThe restaurant plans to work with local charities and community run initiatives to help out during the lockdown. Picture: The Water House Project

It provided the meals with help from other local businesses based on Broadway Market, the Pavillion Bakery and Flin and Flounder restaurant.

READ MORE: Hackney restaurants and residents ‘step up’ as government ‘fails’ to deliver free school meals during half term

Owner Gabriel Waterhouse said: “A second lockdown was inevitable and as sad as we are to close our doors once again, it is eaier for us now to plan ahead knowing where we stand rather than continuing with uncertainty.

During the spring lockdown the restaurant launched its Water House Project @HOME, a six course, six wine monthly changing tasting menu deliverable around London via ethical courier service PedalMe.

Gabriel Waterhouse, founder and owner of The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House ProjectGabriel Waterhouse, founder and owner of The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House Project

“We’ve offered this ‘fine dining at home service’ since May and will continue working on this full time throughout this current lockdown.

Gabriel added: “We thoroughly enjoyed being able to come together as a community to support children and families in need with free daily meals. This is something that we are passionate about and are keen to create a more sustainable long term model for how we can continue to help our community.”

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St John at Hackney Church in Lower Clapton. Picture: St John at HackneySt John at Hackney Church in Lower Clapton. Picture: St John at Hackney

Churches like St John at Hackney in Lower Clapton are also eager to help having served over 140,000 free meals to people during the pandemic so far.

Reverend Al Gordon told the Gazette: “Since the start of the pandemic back in March, we have been doing everything we can to respond. We know that this second lockdown will be an immensely challenging time for people in Hackney, and we want to be there to support our congregation and community in as many ways as possible.

The churches Lighthouse project was set up to help people in East London during the pandemic and will continue to be on hand providing hot meals and food parcels to anyone in need. Reverand Gordon encourages those who can’t pick up meals or medicine, or who need a chat, to get in touch.

READ MORE: Hoxton community kitchen’s mission to reduce waste and feed the hungry

Free school meals distributed by The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House ProjectFree school meals distributed by The Water House Project. Picture: The Water House Project

The church has been able to worship in its newly-restored building for the last seven weeks and during lockdown, it will relaunch its YouTube worship service called Hackney Church Online.

England’s four-week lockdown, which is set to end on December 2, will see most religious services banned with exceptions for funerals, individual prayer, formal child-care or other essential services such as food banks. Churches will also be allowed to broadcast acts of worship from their premises.

“We are also going to be staying in close touch with people without internet access, and for those who want a space for quiet reflection during the week, we will be keeping our buildings open at set times for private prayer,” said the reverend.

“Our simple message is that we are here to help,” he said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: St John at Hackney Church to host services on YouTube after Church of England suspends public worship

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about a “constant struggle and balance” having to be made between protecting lives and livelihoods on October 31.

He said: “Obviously lives come first, but we have to be mindful the whole time of the scarring, the long-term economic impact of the measures that we’re obliged to introduce.”

Mr Johnson added that an overall growth rate in the second wave of coronavirus has made it “absolutely vital to act now” to protect the NHS and save lives.

Contact St John at Hackney church by clicking here or call +44 (0) 208 986 2241

Visit The Water House’s Project website by clicking here.

For more information on new national coronavirus restriction click here


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