Walthamstow’s Salvation Army shop will receive the sign as a gift, paid for by members of the local community. Nathan Clarke reports…
The Walthamstow Salvation Army is being gifted a brand new sign, after local residents raised £300 as a gesture of gratitude for the work the charity has done over lockdown.
Local virtual reality artist Sean Rodrigo, who is also behind Walthamstow’s mini food banks, started the fundraising campaign along with Milla Taluka. He’s also designing and making the sign himself.
He told the Echo that it was, simply, a “way to say thank you”.
“The Salvation Army do an amazing job in this town, it’s a hub for a lot of different causes,” he added. “This is a donation to the people that work there.”
Walthamstow’s Salvation Army, often called Sally In The Stow, has been working to provide clothing, food and other services during the pandemic. The shop opened its doors in April, for the first time since lockdown.
Julie Pell, who runs the charity’s shop with her husband David, said the new sign would give a “fresh look” to the building.
She shared: “It’s a real local shop, its got a real community hub feel to it and the new sign will really add to that, it will look amazing!
“We are incredibly grateful to the community and people like Sean.”
The local Salvation Army saw a surge in demand for practical support over lockdown, and Julie was quick to praise the “overwhelming” response from Waltham Forest residents.
“We are responding to a much bigger need,” she admitted. “Before the pandemic, we fed around 500 people annually through our food bank. Last year, we fed nearly 3,500.”
The Walthamstow branch also responded to 650 household referrals, supplying furniture to people displaced during the pandemic.
“Its been about providing for families who have been flung into really difficult situations. We only managed because of the unbelievable support provided by the community,” Julie noted.
The new sign will replace the current, decaying sign which has become home to a family of pigeons over the years.
“We wanted to give it a bit of a facelift and make the front look a little bit nicer,” said creator Sean. “They [David and Julie] are very excited – they’re working with their head down all the time.
“They don’t put any money into maintaining stuff, they put all their time, resources and money raised into helping people – which is what a charity should be doing.”
Julie agreed: “What we bring in we use to support the community. Our only source of income is our shop, there is no big well of money centrally for us to rely on. What we need, we raise ourselves.”
The new, double-sided sign will be visible from Forest Road and Ruby Road, and will preserve the iconic red and white colour scheme, as well as the shape of the old sign.
Debbie Byrne, a local resident who donated to the campaign, said: “The Sally Army building has been a part of our family’s lives for over 25 years.
“From taking my daughters to the toddler groups held there – brownies and girl guide meetings – to browsing the charity shop, it holds great memories.
“The work they do to help the Walthamstow community is just amazing. I look forward to seeing the new sign up!”
Local art collective Wood Street Walls has also offered to repaint the shop front.
Campaign organisers Sean and Milla say they hope the sign – which is hoped to be completed towards May’s end – will keep the “beautiful, listed old hall signposted into the future.”