Gratitude 2020 A year in service

Dear Trustees, supporters, volunteers, and friends much was said already about the year 2020, but for some of us on the Gratitude’s frontline, it became a special opportunity to do even more than our best. When times were challenging, the appreciation to those amazing volunteers who served with considerable risk to themselves and their families was beyond words. For that, our dear volunteers, we would like to thank you all very much. At various stages, our active volunteer list can extend beyond 40 members, so please forgive us for not naming each glorious one. May all blessings be with you. The year started with many of Gratitude’s social actions and charitable activities carried on from previous years. Our Gratitude community cooking and sharing were on its seventh year running. We were meeting once a week to make meals for the community from food saved from waste. We would like to thank Father Dominic and the team at St Theresa’s Parish Hall for the kindness of letting us run the event free of charge for all that time. As our token of appreciation to the church, our volunteers cleared a rundown area at the front and made it into a lovely garden, which we also maintained for 5 years. Thank you to all who helped with that and to John Carlisle, Gratitude’s CEO for coming up with this lovely idea.

We have maintained a community pantry for 2 years running. The pantry served 150 local families, was open 7 days a week, for all to come and collect what they need to feed their families. Thank you to Cllr Victor Eni, Borehamwood’s Mayor that year, who came to cut the ribbon. Thank you to Yitzik Shalom, a professional builder, for volunteering all the construction work of it. Thank you to local company Engie for volunteering the work of fitting the stairs to the pantry, as well as to Housing Association Clarion for grants towards our charity work for the benefit of their tenants. Many more were kindly helping with the daily care of the place; to clean, collect food deliveries, stack the shelves and to put up signs, etc. The shining star among them was Vivian Palmer.

We were also in our second year running the Knitting for Charity group with 26 active members. Wool was donated and projects were changed according to the shortages of various departments in the Barnet Hospital. The things that we made up until March were as follows: premature baby hats and blankets, hats and scarves for young cancer patients, knitted bunnies for the kid’s ward, twiddle muffs for dementia patients, and lap blankets for wheelchair users. Later in the year we also knitted poppies for the poppy appeal. Thank you to Goods for Good for wool donations, to the Poplars and the British Legion for allowing the use of their venues, and to the talented leaders of the group, Liz and Valeria.

Our recycling club at Haberdasher’s Boys school was running for the last 3 years with weekly making a charitable project from recycling items. Among many, we wrapped gifts for kids in hospitals for Halloween, gifts for mothers in social shelters, animal feed for sanctuaries from saved up wasted bread, flower arrangements for teachers, games for adults with special needs, extracting and drying seeds for African farmers, and many more.

When Lockdown happened, the above activities were suspended and we devoted our time to give away groceries to families in hardship in Borehamwood. With the kind help of Hertsmere Borough Council and the trustees of Allum Hall, from April until September, we ran 5 days a week free grocery giveaway from Allum Hall. The 2 days on the weekend were spent with a group of volunteers, delivering crates of food to families in shielding. The high Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Sir Henry Hubbert, and wife Kate visited us in Allum Hall to see first-hand the Gratitude’s Groceries Giveaway, following up from us be among the winners of the High Sheriff award earlier in the year. 8 Gratitude’s volunteers were awarded the Hero of Hertfordshire badge:

  • John Carlisle
  • Sheila Carlisle
  • Vivian Palmer
  • Harini Raghuveer
  • Valéria Fazekas
  • Sarit Cohen
  • Rohama Shalom
  • Michael Wickes

During that time, in the school’s summer holiday, Gratitude’s volunteers in collaboration with the GMSP Foundation ran a 5-week lunch delivery scheme to 160 local kids, replacing the free school meals. We hosted MP Oliver Dowden in a thank you ceremony to the volunteers.

October saw us, a charity without a home, operating daily as much as we could from the British Legion’s hall, from tables out in a car park, and from a community centre in Bushey. After many tears, prayers, appeals, correspondences, talks, and even a breakup amongst our volunteers, the old library building was given to us to use as a hub. We are incredibly grateful to our MP Oliver Dowden and his parliamentary secretary Martin Danby for help with that. Thank you to Hertfordshire County Council for trusting us with this community asset which we are engaging with, 7 days a week for the benefit of the community.

We also took part in Mitzvah Day in November in collaboration with the Islamic Centre in Borehamwood. Thank you to John Carlisle, Dan Ozarow, Amir from the Islamic society, Rabbi Jeff Berger, and Adi Carlisle for many hours of planning, documenting, and promoting. The theme was celebrating diversity and wishing the Muslim community all the best in their new centre in Borehamwood. Representatives of local faith groups sent lovely welcoming video messages.

Yavne College had an ongoing engagement with Gratitude for most of their first semester. Children of the Smile Project were engaged in charitable work in collaboration with Gratitude 3 days a week, culminating in 500 students participating in a volunteering project just before their school holiday break.

Employees of Cardiff Pinnacle were volunteering their time, bagging sweets donated by the M&M shop in London. Those bags were distributed to nurses and staff in a few hospitals, as well as to local emergency services staff. Thank you to Darya for arranging that, as well as to her lovely kids for their volunteering with us.

Special thank you to Lisa Crawford and Joe Fletcher on the all-round support front. Their dedication to whatever is needed is outstanding. Big shout out to super volunteers family, Tibor and Valeria who spent many hours and days sorting out videos for our reception slide shows, sorting out signs, helping with food deliveries, unloading of vans, decorating for Christmas, sorting our craft room, volunteering from work and much more.

We had a Christmas Raffle in support of Gratitude with 13 luxury Hamper winners. Thank you to Sarah North for wonderfully putting them together and to Valeria for the amazing ribbons. Thank you to Borehamwood’s Mayor Cllr Simon Rubner for drawing the winning tickets.

We could not have done all that without the kind support and donations of fantastic individuals and organizations: We would like to thank the labour Cllrs of Borehamwood and Potters Bar for donating their WIIS funds in July in support of Gratitude: Cllr Newmark, Cllr Vince, Cllr Butler, Cllr Gray, Cllr Challice, Cllr Myers and Cllr Briski.

Thank you for donations from the

  • Rotary Club of Elstree and Borehamwood
  • Hertfordshire Community Foundation
  • Clarion
  • Hertsmere Borough Council
  • the Asian Women Society
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Cllr Alan Plancy and Cllr Susan Brown’s locality budgets
  • the Lucketts of Watford Charitable Trust arranged by Cllr Jeremy Newmark
  • Waitrose Mill Hill
  • Argos Borehamwood
  • Monthly direct debit from:
    • Rosalind Bluestone
    • Rishi Sachdev
    • Sam Clements

We are incredibly grateful for regular donations of groceries from the following charities and organizations:

  • Community Respond Kitchen arranged by Sal Parker
  • Sewa Day – North London arranged by Dina Bhudia
  • Wombles arranged by Feyda Bentayeb
  • Colindale Food Bank arranged by Lisa and Pat.
  • Barnet Foodbank arranged by Sarah Mayer and Harold
  • Volunteers in Vans arranged by Peter Phillips and Marcus Arden
  • Jesus House arranged by Deepa Chauhan
  • Gift arranged by Michelle and Mike
  • Felix Project arranged by Damián and Sam
  • Special mention to our long social partnerships with the Borehamwood branches of:
    • M&S
    • Lidl
    • Aldi
    • Be Kosher
    • Holland and Barrett
    • M&S Mill Hill
    • Morrison’s St Albans
    • Lidl Stanmore
    • Health Matters Barnet

God willing, the next year will see us more determined in our endeavours to serve, care, give and share

Best wishes,
Sheila Carlisle

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