The horror of Grenfell Tower has come hard on the heels of the London Bridge terrorist attacks, the tower presenting a terrifying glimpse of the marginalisation of poor people in badly maintained and underfunded social housing. Yet the attacks held a story of love and compassion that one of our donors remembered when she sent a huge bundle of clothes, cakes, money and kitchenware to help Hope’s clients, in the name of Chrissy.
One of the London Bridge dead was a Canadian woman, Chrissy, who had worked in homelessness shelters. Her father, in a spontaneous and unbelievingly loving and compassionate notice after the death of his daughter, said if people cared, they should donate to other shelters or volunteer, telling them ‘Chrissy sent you/me’ ( ).
I’m a father; I’m not sure I could have responded with such grace and love in similar circumstances; it moved me very much indeed. The volunteering that has followed Grenfell is built on the same basic human goodness, spontaneous and heartfelt, that just isn’t there when the local or national state tries to respond. That’s the beauty and tragedy of charity, of people’s simple human caring response when something is obviously broken and needs help, but which, in a proper world, should never be needed; when there wasn’t poverty, and exclusion, and hate.
Society is struggling to hold together, given the gradual wearing down of community resources from lack of funding; we are ourselves affected by cuts in statutory funding; but that human drive remains – and we try to tap it to help support the broken and damaged people we often deal with. We always need volunteers, who will come along and say, perhaps, Chrissy sent me.
We are always in need of donations. We didn’t use the Chrissy tag in our social media immediately because we were concerned people would think we were trying to cash in on an awful event. A couple of weeks later, with a great donation based on it, it feels right to reflect on human capacity for love and compassion.
Thanks to our donor (she knows who she is); to Chrissy, to Chrissy’s dad; to all who volunteer here, and to all those who work to make the wrongs of Grenfell right.