We’re really happy to share this guest blog post, written by Twitter user @BenefitsBlues, who recounts their experience attending a Restart Party run by a local group in Kilburn, at Abbey Community Centre. We believe that community events like Restart Parties create a special, radical space for people to connect with others. But most of the credit for this person’s marvellous day goes to Abbey Community Centre. We’ve spoken out and written repeatedly in defence of community spaces like Abbey. Massive kudos to their volunteers, staff, managers and fundraisers for helping to create “hope in the dark”. Over to BenefitsBlues:
So, after a very tough week, where my mental wellbeing was heading towards the danger zone, where the challenges of Universal Credit, insecure housing and a violent neighbour almost broke me… and then Brexit and Christchurch… here is my story of #HopeInTheDark…
I went to a community “repair cafe” today, run by The Restart Project. Basically, you take along your dead appliances and a handy-minded volunteer will have a go at fixing it.
I have a swish-bang immersion blender my mum gave me as a birthday present some years back and I love it for soups, hummus, smoothies etc. A few months ago, I blew the fuse when the cord touched a hot ring in my cooker. Very sad.
Off we went to Kilburn today, me and 🐶, where the queue was 90 minutes for repairs! There were loads of people! So, we took a number and just hung out in the community centre. We chatted to lots of regulars, including several men with learning disabilities who helping out.
Mingling during the wait
I was also signed up to a cohort for a big health study by Imperial College and had a very interesting chat about how to recruit people for a big health study, dementia and diet-related interventions, and knitting.
I signed a petition to stop the Royal Free Hospital moving some of its surgery functions away. Then I chatted to three Irish ladies about whether ginger cake was superior to polenta cake. (I had the ginger cake, very good.)
We, me and the 🐶, had a very good, hot lunch, cake and tea for £2. Which involved table service, proper cutlery and crockery, free fruit on offer, and communal tables, each with a crocheted rose in a vase.
We were looked after by two extremely friendly, competent, attentive staff who were everywhere, keeping all the various activities flowing, attending to individuals and marshalling volunteers in the kitchen.
Fixing with a volunteer
And then, finally, I got to see our expert, an electrician who volunteers for The Restart Project, and who very helpfully talked me through everything he was doing. Watching him work was like being a kid helping their parent do DIY – he allowed me to pass him things.
After a bit of trial and error, it looks like I might be back in the immersion blender business!
An antidote to despair and gloom
So. If you need an antidote to atrocities, hostile environments, overwhelming despair and generalised gloom, may I suggest heading out into your local community and find the fixers, the helpers, the organisers and carers. They’ll restore your faith in humanity, pronto.