Guest blog post by Joanne Croxford and Melissa Russell, Gothic Valley WI (Middlesex Federation)
A wonderful gesture to counterbalance a disaster - members of the WI have donated their time and love in the shape of handmade ribbons and hearts to decorate the area surrounding Grenfell Tower.
The idea was born after we attended the peaceful protest alongside survivors of the tragedy which launched the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign. It was there, walking shoulder to shoulder with our community and those directly affected, that the call for the WI's history of coming to the aid of those most vulnerable in their society was heard at its most clear.
At this point, we were volunteering a lot of our time to the community's effort to support locally and sharing this on our social media pages which resulted in many WI members from far and wide contacting us to ask how they too could be a part of the movement to heal Grenfell's community.
It was too early to ascertain how WI members could practically support Grenfell's residents, so we did exactly what WI members do best and decided to get knitting/crocheting to support the #YellowRibbonForGrenfellMissing campaign which has emerged with the yellow ribbon, the internationally recognised symbol for the missing, being worn by locals and hung in the area surrounding Grenfell.
We were compelled to make an appeal on social media to fellow WI members to do the same and mobilise their best crafting efforts - expressing the urgency for donated handmade items to ensure that the community felt the love and support in the immediate aftermath of this terrible tragedy.
Members had less than two weeks to get making yellow hearts and ribbons and the response was truly heartwarming. Homemade hearts and ribbons began pouring in from all corners of the globe ahead of our decided date of 3rd July to hang all contributions directly next to the Grenfell site. Members from the #hearts4ldn group were in touch, too, who had already been involved in making hearts as a response to the Manchester and London terror attacks for members of the public to take with them for the public to take with them from the sites of as a gesture of love and support. We combined forces and the envelopes began arriving filled with love in the truest form in the brightest of yellow.
On 3rd July we came together with representatives from both #YellowRibbons4GrenfellMissing and #hearts4ldn with other local volunteers to hang the amazing efforts of our fellow WI members outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church directly next to Grenfell Tower.
What happened next was literally one of the most humbling experiences we have ever experienced. Locals emerged from their homes, hugged and cried with many of us with the greatest of thanks to all WI members for their gesture of love and support. Twitter and Facebook have been alive with messages from locals praising our efforts and representatives of those directly affected have touched base to show their gratitude directly, too.
What's next? Locals have invited us to increase our efforts and continue to decorate the area, using the power of yarn to connect the wonderful community centres through locally which have been pivotal in providing much needed provisions for Grenfell's survivors. Never one to deny a challenge, we are appealing to WI members all over the country to take part in any way they are able to raise awareness around those still missing from Grenfell in the form of more handmade donations or by spreading the word that the memorial exists and urging members to visit.
We are planning to begin a ‘freshen up’ of the memorial so will be returning to the site monthly to see that new donations are added and those weathered replaced.
All we ask is that knitted donations are created using synthetic yarn to respect certain religious faiths in their belief of representation of living matter.
If you would like to contribute to the initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
We would like to add how very proud we are that members of the WI who have thus far been involved have done exactly what we do best - binding a community in turmoil with true gestures of love and gratitude.