Earlier this summer Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF) launched a ‘Rebuilding Lives’ campaign to support those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The appeal, which has successfully raised £3000, has already helped 80 people, directly affected by the tragedy, to enjoy a fun day out at Wicksteed Park, bringing some relief, respite and recreation, to some of the families and children that were caught up in the disaster.
Zafar Khan, Chair of LCoF explains that “Luton Council of Faiths has historically run campaigns to support those in need in response to different disasters around the world, but what happened at Grenfell Tower was so shocking and tragic that it was felt Luton could play some small role in helping those affected. Once again, the people of Luton from all faiths and backgrounds, and those of no particular faith affiliation, have come together and shown great generosity and compassion for their fellow man”.
The trip to Wicksteed Park included a visit to its theme park, time spent in it’s beautiful gardens, the opportunity for children to cook a free pizza lunch with their families and a memento from the gift shop to take away with them. Zafar added, “This trip would not have been possible without the help and support of Tracey Clarke, the Community Link Manager from Wicksteed Park, who ensured that families were given a warm and supportive welcome, and that the children had a day packed full of fun activities”.
The trip created many lasting happy memories for the families attending, with one family thanking “all of the staff for making the day special” and another noting that they “enjoyed every bit of the journey”. The biggest impact however was made on the children, one of whom said simply “I enjoyed today and it made me feel very special – it allowed me and my family to bond”.
The campaign was a collaboration between LCoF, GRASSROOTS, Angela Scarlett-Marshall (St Thomas’s Church in Stopsley) and Madit Grant (The Olive Tree Church), further supported by A to B Travel in Luton who kindly provided transport on the day, and volunteers from the SOS Bus, which acts as a point of help and refuge in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.
Angela Scarlett-Marshall, the key initiator behind this appeal, joined volunteers accompanying the families and children on the day and said "The smiles on the faces of the children were so gratifying and showed us that this was the right thing to do. I really admire the generosity and contributions in cash or kind, of all donors and contributors, across faiths and cultures in Luton. It was a great day for those attending, made possible only by the kindness of the Luton community”.
Once the costs of the day trip had been taken out, the remaining sum of £1700 was presented to Sean Mendez, the Director of Solidarity Sports, on 13th September 2017 by Angela, Madit and David Jonathan (Director of Luton Council of Faiths). Sean movingly shared stories of both loss and bravery from some of the children they are working with, adding that “we are extremely grateful to the people of Luton for their kind donations. This will help us to continue our programme of activities and trips for those affected by this immense tragedy, and help bring a smile back to many saddened faces”.