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To Lavender Hill with Love

Today, 22 December, I packed the final consignment for 2020 of soccer boots, trainers and sports shirts and shorts to be shipped to Lavender Hill Township, Cape Town. As ever, I am so grateful to our supporters who have continued to show love and compassion for one of the most impoverished communities during this most trying of years for so many people in the UK and across the world. Thank you.

Whilst I know of some in Cape Town who have suffered from Covid-19, the nightmare scenario of widespread infection in the townships has so far been avoided. In recent days a particularly virulent new strain of the virus has been discovered in South Africa, and although it isn’t the same as the variant now affecting the UK, it is making similar frightening inroads across the country.

The challenge since the early months of 2020 has been to educate communities on social distancing, wearing face-masks and regular washing of hands. This has proved difficult enough in the UK, so imagine trying to establish this in a township with many families relying on a shared stand-pipe for running water; shared ‘portaloo’ style toilet facilities; cramped and overcrowded living accommodation and deteriorating economic circumstances. Unemployment across Cape Town was approaching 30%, with rates for the 16-24 year olds over 55% before Covid struck, and estimates across the township communities suggests the figure was already c.50% and c80% respectively. Deterring young people from a life of organised crime and drug abuse by involving them in sport, music & dance, and opportunities for training and education to increase their hopes for a better life have never been more important.

Inevitably, food has been more important than football this year. One of the few positives in 2020 has been establishing allotments and community gardens in the township. These have proved a lifeline for some and have supplemented the donated food gifted locally and by financial help from supporters here and elsewhere. My good friend Mark Nicholson at Lavender Hill Sports and Recreation Club is pictured here (he is on the right) with one of the garden volunteers.

The Guardians of the National Treasure (GNT) has again been at the forefront of action and involvement in the township and alongside others in the wider Cape Flats area. Their fight against the repercussions from Covid resulted in recognition at the highest level with their President’s Award. Many congratulations Ralph Bouwers, Nigel Jones and all involved.

During 2020 with the help from regular contributors Refugee Aid from Taunton (RAFT); John & Gill Wheller; the Keyte family; King’s College, Taunton; Marion Baker, and items donated by neighbours here at King’s Square, I will have shipped five consignments (each of 2 tea-chest size boxes) to Lavender Hill this year. Each consignment costs £150 to send. A fund-raising trip to Salisbury Cathedral Flower Festival was cancelled as a result of Covid restrictions, so I was particularly grateful to so many friends and family who responded to my earlier birthday appeal for Lavender Hill in February. Little did we know then what was in store! Emergency cash donations have also been made to help pay for food and feeding utensils as both GNT and Lavender Hill Sports Club arrange continuing ‘soup kitchens’ for hundreds of children and vulnerable adults on a daily basis throughout the pandemic.

Choosing ‘new’ shoes · 20+ community kitchens · New shoes and lunch: Thankyou!

I am so grateful to West Monkton Church for their donation which was received today – ‘Thank you’! We all hope and pray for better times in 2021. Continuing prayers and thanks to all ‘engineers of change’ in Lavender Hill. With your continued prayers, help and support, Anne and I will try to continue to help.

To you all...

Happy Christmas, Best wishes for 2021 and Thanks again!

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