10 Aug 2011

‘Oi – stop destroying our city’

The riots have brought out the best, and worst, in communities across England. Channel 4 News has been speaking to some of the people going out of their way to help the victims of violence.

People clean up after the Manchester riots (Getty)

As communities across London watched their homes and businesses being destroyed, a rallying call went out on Twitter for people to clean-up after the riots.

By Tuesday morning #riotcleanup was trending in the UK and hundreds of people, armed with brushes, were sweeping streets across the capital.

There were similar scenes in Manchester on Wednesday morning following vandalism and looting in the city centre.

When Ed Miliband went to Manchester he met a group of volunteers who had rallied to the cause after Jeremy Myers, 34, started the Twitter group @cleanupmanc.

Mr Myers told the Labour leader that the group, which he only set up last night, already had 6,500 followers and 1,000 people had turned up to help.

Read more: Online campaign for riot victim Ashraf Haziq

Police ‘very thankful’

As well as sweeping the streets clear of shattered glass and burnt debris, communities and trades have come together to help in other ways.

In Waltham Forest people have set up a canteen in a local community centre to serve police officers working through the riots.

One of the organisers Kate Arkless Gray told Channel 4 News that people brought tea, coffee, milk, sugar, pizza and baked potatoes.

She said: “The support was incredible, so many people came to help because they didn’t want to be under the feet of the police but really wanted to do something.

“I guess I’m heartened and surprised, but not too surprised. The riots had no logic or sense and I think people just wanted to say ‘Oi, stop destroying our city’.”

She added that the Borough Commander had been down and was “very thankful” for what they had done.

They group will continue running the canteen until Friday at least.

Rebuilding communities

Elsewhere hundreds of trades people across England have volunteered to give up half a day of their time to help those whose homes and businesses have been shattered by the riots.

Trade website Mybuilder has added a section to its page so that victims of the violence can tick a box and be matched up with a trades person who will do work free of charge.

The company’s CEO and founder Ryan Notz told Channel 4 News it was “heart-warming” that so many people had volunteered to give up their time.

“We thought people would be willing to help, trades people are good people and there’s a community spirit after what happened.”

In Clapham Junction, one of the worst affected areas of London, businesses are continuing to clean-up after Monday night’s looting.

Whole Foods Market was one of the shops on Lavender Hill which was ransacked. Staff were not allowed to return until late on Tuesday evening.

Store team leader Paul Bennett said: “What we have seen is unity with other shopkeepers in this area.

“Everyone was together in this yesterday and it was very much a sense of ‘we want to help each other’ so we’re helping the stores over the road with anything they need and vice versa.”

If you know someone who has gone above and beyond to help people affected by the riots then tweet @channel4news or visit our Facebook page.