Waltham Forest Community Hub (WFCH) came together to create a book featuring stories of local kindness during lockdown. Here, the creators and designers describe making the book…
Monwara Ali, WFCH director, says:
“I live in Waltham Forest and work at Waltham Forest Community Hub as the director of the organisation. I’m proud of my role as the ‘coordinator’ of the ‘vision’ behind the Legacy of Kindness book.
“Like many people in my area, I found myself joining Mutual Aid groups at start of the pandemic. I got to know some wonderful people and learnt about their amazing acts of kindness towards the most vulnerable.
“I felt compelled for us to capture some of those heartening stories that were also a coping mechanism for many. Then, when I fell ill in April 2020 with what I thought was (undiagnosed) Covid-19, I was emotionally overwhelmed by the offers of support I got. I felt truly blessed.
“Shortly after, I heard my fellow Mutual Aid volunteers talking about the need to capture the resilience of the community after the first lockdown. I suggested: could any of the volunteers coordinate to capture stories from different areas of the borough?
“However, it was a big responsibility that required funding, and we were all so busy. But when Waltham Forest Community Hub got funding from Hoe Street Ward, we took on the responsibility.
My colleague Fran Reeves curated a Legacy of Kindness event in February 2021 that served as our book launch – acknowledging and celebrating local people, including some whose stories were featured.
“I hope the book will keep alive the vision behind it – remind us of the important role and power of kindness. With courage and trust we realised and started to believe we already have everything we need to sustain our community. We just had to come together, put our differences aside and unite to strengthen our resilience.”
Aleksandra Horwood, author, says:
“I’m a local yoga teacher, and have helped with several community projects regarding youth, women and senior mental and physical health events. Although I moved to the borough only in 2017, I’ve met so many dedicated people and organisations and was truly impressed by the love and care for one another.
“Since Monwara knew of my background in journalism, she asked me in June 2020 if I would collect stories about acts of kindness during the lockdown. I was thrilled – as I know that even the smallest gesture means the world to the people in need, and definitely to the volunteers, who often said that helping others helped them get through their own tough times.
“Mutual Aid groups started sending their contacts and I was suddenly conducting dozens of interviews on Zoom or over the phone. I must admit that even when talking about this now, I have tears in my eyes thinking about the huge hearts of everyone I got in touch with. It was humbling.
“As soon as we had 100 simple acts of kindness, we were ready to work on publishing the book – but we were very aware that we haven’t captured everyone and everything. I hope that more similar projects will manifest – as the legacy of a crisis like this can teach us about the importance of community.”
Emily Grace Woffindin, designer, says:
“I first came into contact with the WFCH through Twitter, as Monwara had put out a tweet asking for support with a creation of a new website for the community hub, due to their current site no longer functioning as required.
“At this point, I was working part-time for a design studio, so I decided to reach out. Once the website had been completed, I was then approached again to take on the design of the Legacy of Kindness book, – a project I gladly signed on to after hearing just a handful of Aleksandra’s amazing interviews with the Waltham Forest community.
“Listening to accounts from people, their experiences of Covid-19 and how they supported each other was so heartening. Aleksandra kindly took the video interviews and formed them into a written text narrative, too, which then served as the basis for the design of each page.
“I had such a great time bringing to life the stories within the book, using bold colours and drawing illustrations of the people involved. It was great to connect with a few of these people by collating images for the book. I am so proud to have been involved in such a fantastic piece.”