Operation riot clean up
I won’t go into the causes of the riots (that’s not our place) or even type a lengthy condemnation of the sheer idiocy of attacking your own community, however legitimate the wider grievance – more than enough words are being spoken by others who are much more qualified than me to give an opinion.
What I will say, though, is that I’m incredibly saddened by the riots and wanton looting of small retailers over the past few days; and yet inspired by the amazing response from communities that have turned out in force to support their local businesses. As one retailer told me this week, there’s a real ‘Dunkirk spirit’ afoot as volunteers patrol streets with brooms and set up social media campaigns to provide shelter, goods and practical help to affected communities.
What it shows us is that, whatever the sociologists, politicians and journalists may say, there is a sense of community in our towns and cities, and small businesses are very much at the heart of our local landscape. When I go to buy my bread and milk from my local shop every morning, I stop for a moment and chat with the shop-owner; he’s a familiar, friendly face. He’s part of my community.
I know the faces of the people who work in my local shops and I say hello to them if I see them in the street. I’m sure you do, too. I even once dated someone from my local pharmacy – but that’s another story… My point is that, local businesses support our communities; in times of crisis, we should support them, too.
I’m amazed and inspired by the many goodwill campaigns that have sprung up spontaneously in the wake of disorder. Hundreds of people turned up at Clapham Junction on Tuesday morning after terrible rioting left shops smashed (and, in one case, completely burnt out) and streets littered with glass and debris. They were responding to the call that went out on Twitter, on Facebook, and other social media; and they were wielding brooms.
Not baseball bats, but brooms. This wasn’t ‘official’, it wasn’t organised by local authorities (though they are also doing much to help) – it was a spontaneous assertion of our collective desire to stick together and stand up for the things that matter to us, as a community. Can there be a more powerful statement of our intent to help out in any way we can?
If you’d like to help, I suggest you consider the following:
- Go to the Riot Rescue website at www.riotrescue.com and register the help you can offer. Many small traders are providing free services to affected businesses and communities to help them get back on their feet.
- Follow the #bizcleanup hashtag on Twitter and find out what’s going on in your area.
- Sign up to the Post Riot Clean Up page on Facebook where volunteers are banding together to share their resources and co-ordinate support for their local communities. http://www.facebook.com/#!/londoncleanup
- And if you can’t get out, you can make a donation to support affected communities through the whimsical, but helpful, Operation Cup of Tea. http://www.operationcupoftea.com/
If your business has been affected, either directly or through lost trade, speak to your insurance company immediately and check what you can claim. It may also be possible for you to claim compensation for damage caused by civil unrest from your local police authority under the terms of the Riot Act; and this morning the Government announced a £20 million High Street Recovery Scheme for local authorities. This is intended to enable local authorities to offer business rate hardship relief.
These are just a few of the many initiatives that have sprung up in the last few days. No doubt you’ll know about others – in which case, leave a comment below. And remember, too, that even though the rioting has calmed down for now, for businesses hit by disturbances, the recovery will be long, expensive and painful.
Simon Wicks is Editor of Enterprise Nation
Photo credit: Andy B