W9W2 are once again urgently fundraising to provide essential homemade meals to the staff working overtime to fight COVID at St Mary’s ICU. We were able to provide this through the first lockdown with the support of our amazing community. We are asking for your help to once again provide this service.
Your local heroes need you! Frontline NHS staff workers are still tirelessly working throughout this third relentless lockdown – and if you’ve asked yourself how you can help, we have the answer!
Over the first lockdown, we saw first hand just how much donations of healthy meals lifted our frontline workers, so to continue this support the local Maida Vale Society (W9W2) is campaigning to raise funds again.
W9W2 is working alongside Chef Jen, to coordinate the delivery of healthy (halal) meals with Alice Sinclair. Supporting our ITU staff, and beyond. At This stage and depending on your support, meals will be delivered once a week.
For every £50 donated, Chef Jen can cook at least 35 nutritious, hearty meals for the NHS – and the more donations raised the more amazing the meals we can contribute!
It’s not possible for everybody to be hands on in the fight against covid, but this will make a real difference in keeping our forces fit and healthy.
Vanessa who works with the woman’s empowerment programme talks to us about her experiences, sewing masks, and her work at Women Empowerment Project & Training (WEPT).
“I have always had a passion for fashion. Growing up, watching my mother was a real inspiration. One day she will be in her nurse’s uniform, with the starched hat and elasticated belt, totally immaculate, other times she would be cocktail dresses, again in her traditional African attire. I had a lot to pull on as I grew up in the late 60’s, early 70’s. My mother had collected fabrics for over thirty years which I inherited, and I have created my own fashion brand, with my partner, Danny Sekibo. Coming from an African background, dressing is very important. My mother is from Sierra Leone, my father from the Republic of the Gambia. I was given a small sewing machine when I reached puberty. It’s an African tradition for girls to receive such gifts towards the direction of sustainability.
I make a point of taking Mollie, my daughter, to the Gambia. We are part of many communities. We meet with them to hear their stories, most importantly for Mollie to understand her ancestral culture, and giving her great insight of how others live. She has a lot of freedom there, and I hope one day Mollie will be become part of both her worlds
We visit schools as well taking with us learning aids, everything we can that’s educational. We are presently raising money to build a school in the rural area of Sukuta, where there is no education for nursery, or early primary.
I heard about W9W2 sewing group through the Westminster City Council weekly Newsletter, where Alice, from the Paddington Waterways & Maida Vale Society, was reaching out to the community to help sew masks for the NHS. Immediately, I felt propelled to help. It’s a great project providing immense community service of which we ought to be a part.
WEPT has worked, and continues to work, with different communities in London through teaching fashion, sewing pattern cutting, and clothes construction. We work with people from all backgrounds, cultures, faith, disadvantaged, marginalised, and isolated seniors.
The need is now greater than ever for people to come together, to heal, and to communicate with other like-minded people in a safe environment. We believe our role is to take our communities from adversity to sustainability.
We have recently been approved as a Provider for NCFE Accredited Courses which will be delivered through our Academy, LFTA. (London Fashion Textile Academy). WEPT’s aim is to create specific pathways where the community can learn new skills or up skill that will allow them to gain employment start a business apprenticeships or further education in their chosen fields. WEPT (Women Empowerment Project Training) is a CIC managed by partner, Danny Sekibo and myself. We started in 2015 through personal experience of trying to find a job in fashion. As a single mum with a school run. It wasn’t happening
Sewing the Masks!
The day to day sewing was intense as the work was delicate and it created moments of sheer dedication. It was an honour to be part of. My sixteen year old daughter, Mollie, was a real force, and understands the sense of importance in helping her community. We got together and got it done!
I created the production line and I would do all the cutting of the squares. Mollie laid them out in stacks of ten, and by adding the elastic started the first stage of construction. I would then follow that by turning it out, adding the fourth elastic, and send it back to Mollie to pleat. Then, I would sew the pleating and voila! I worked on the industrial machine, Mollie works on my old machine, a computerised domestic machine on which I taught Mollie to sew when she was eight years old, which has been passed down to her.
The humorous side to it was that we gave my cousin the role of Quality Controller, to check that the masks were complete. Mollie enjoyed watching us interact. This became a weapon for her “OMG, she rejected over sixty masks!”. It drove us potty! Eventually Mollie asked if I could sack the Quality Controller as it was not working for her.
We laughed! We still have to finish them that Mollie hid till after she left. We had arguments, disagreements and an absolute laugh. It really kept our spirits up, and taught us about emotions and feelings. We had discussions on family members that had passed away, especially our parents. One thing I must say: Mollie got a great insight into her family. Bonus!
Our lockdown experience brought us closer. Normally we would not spend such long periods together as Mollie now attends boarding school. It was great to have that time together. Adjusting together to face what none of knew would be the outcome. Sewing the masks gave us a new bonding; it gave us back our time to be with each other every day, instead of every three weeks for a couple of days plus school holidays.
It taught us resilience in a time of not knowing what was happening to our futures!
The community could help WEPT by supporting us through different ways telling the community what we do to build a strong future for those of us that wants that extra difference and sometimes certain life, cultural religious circumstances can prevent us from sustainability of self. WEPT believe we can help bridge that gap. www.weptproject.co.uk
If you’d like to hear ongoing updates on this campaign and more about how you can support W9W2’s community efforts, please sign up to our newsletter.
Nadine Seddat, 14, from Maida Vale shared with us how she used art to bring hope during the first coronavirus lockdown early on in 2020.
“Hello! My name is Nadine and I’m a 14 year old secondary school student! Like a lot of the population right now, I was going to school normally until we were forced into lockdown. It has taken its toll on me (especially since it feels like our teachers are giving us 10 billion times more work than we got before) but I’ve been trying to find ways around it.
An example of this is my artwork. I draw quite a bit and it’s one of my hobbies that I really enjoy, but now that we’ve suddenly been given a load of time to burn, I’ve been able to draw even more and I’m really enjoying it! Of course, I do take time for my other hobbies too like playing my violin, coding and Latin to name a few!
I think that even though we’ve been kicked out of our regular flow of life, it doesn’t mean that we can’t create a separate flow of life while stuck inside our houses. It’s like a tributary in a river- there’s still the main river that flows in a straight and definite direction (our normal day to day lives) but it’s also okay for part of the water to divert into a separate path (the new flow of life we decide to create for ourselves in lockdown).
So, what were my motives behind this drawing? Well, to draw this, I decided to go about it systematically, which is quite weird if you think about it- going at something creative with logical thinking, but as the saying goes, opposites attract! I thought about the meaning and the message I wanted to give out to the readers, and I eventually decided on one. This digital painting I made was made to show that although times may be tough right now, with the protection of our amazing NHS staff, the government, the World Health Organisation, charities and all the other dedicated workers who risk their lives for our well-being, Maida Vale won’t be shaken so easily. In fact, our community should keep on shining and being a light in the darkness.
I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I enjoyed working on it (however much of a challenge it was to conjure up!).”
The W9W2 team have been partnering with the local community to bring daily deliveries of free hot meals to local residents in food poverty.
W9W2 committee member Alice Sinclair has been working with chef Jenny Woodberry and Ronnie Renney from the North Paddington Youth Club to deliver the meals to people in need. Here are some photos of the team in action!
Jenny raised more than £1500 during October half-term to fund the effort, but more is still needed to continue this service over the Christmas period.
The team’s amazing work was also featured in Ham & High. Well done all!
Please donate here, anything you can contribute will make a huge difference to those in our community during this time.
If you’d like to hear ongoing updates on this campaign and more about how you can support W9W2’s community efforts, please sign up to our newsletter.
“I am a local photographer, specialising in studio portraiture (children, families, pets, also headshots, dance portraits and all sorts of creative projects). I have been living in Maida Vale for almost 17 years now and cannot imagine living anywhere else in London. Especially the canal is such a beautiful place.
Apart from taking photographs in the studio I am keen to experiment and find creative ways to express myself through photography and digital manipulation. This love still carries forward into my passion for Blue Prints and making them accessible for portrait clients.
The image below is a Blue Print, which is hand-printed using the cyanotype technique. This an 18th-century technique that involves coating fine art paper with a special liquid and exposing it in the sun. The result is a truly unique piece of art.
If you would like to know more visit my website annikabloch.com.”
Young artist Finlay Kennedy has been joining in the community quest to fill the halls of St Mary’s Hospital with colourful creations to encourage and send warm wishes to the Frontline staff . On Finlay’s daily ‘scoot’ for exercise he came for a quick door step interview with Maida Unveiled…
When and why do you like to draw?
Everyday. I draw whenever I can. Sometimes I try and draw during breakfast and dinner but Mum doesn’t like that. She likes me to do it afterwards.
Drawing is one of my favourite hobbies. I like to draw because it makes me feel calm and still. Its fun too because I can get all my ideas on the paper and also play with them. People really like my drawings, that makes me happy and proud.
How long have you been an artist?
Roughly about 5 years. I love drawing. Painting is too tricky for me – I cant get the details I want to do right, when I paint.
Am I right in thinking you are 7?
What message are you trying to bring with your artwork for the NHS?
Really because … I‘ll tell you why, I am really doing the artwork because my mum had the Corona Virus, and they helped my mum, and she is recovering. That’s why I really doing the drawings.
What is your favourite thing about your drawings for the NHS?
I really like drawing the banners which say NHS on them … the doctors and nurses are the leaders rallying behind their banner, and they are going to war against COVID.
What sort of drawings do you usually do?
I really like creating Magic Mini Worlds, with lots and lots of tiny detail and action and different things to look at. My favourite things to draw are battles. Medieval battles, with castles, knights and sometimes dragons. I especially like drawing medieval weaponry like trebuchets and swords, crossbows. Sometimes I draw inventions. Once I drew a massive rainbow factory, where all the colours went in and got sorted out and then the rainbows got spat out at the top. Everyone really liked that one. My Mum got that framed and it is in my bedroom.
How did you come up with these ideas?
Um, my mum says I am very imaginative. The ideas just come into my head, and so I draw them, and then as I draw things they kind of come to life. Like when I draw battles I imagine being the people in the drawing and imagine the action that is happening around me as I am drawing it.
What do you want to be when you are older?
I really want to be a game maker or designer. I would like to create all the characters in the game, and work out what they do in the game, and sell the game in the shops.
My brother and I often invent games, we talk about them and then I draw them – then we play them.
Have you decided what you would call the game?
Something like ‘Clash of Empires’ ….
Me and my brother really like playing Clash of Clans.
Finlay continues to contribute his masterpieces, much to the joy of the frontline staff.
“I started painting about six months ago, when I stopped working and became a full-time mother. Having more headspace, if not necessarily more time, I started looking for a creative outlet and decided to put paintbrush to paper. My painting focuses on colour and the use of brushstrokes to evoke textures.
I initially focused on everyday objects and pieces of fruit as a base for my experimentation, drawing in elements of Impressionism and the abstract. Inspired by some of my daily views around Paddington and Maida Vale, I have recently started to paint landscapes. This particular view down the canal to La Ville represents not only a beautiful view but also the high point of my morning school run. Breathless, invariably late and pushing a triple-loaded buggy, the view is a welcome distraction each morning.
Also an amateur photographer of the everyday, I use black and white to focus on the play of light, shadow and symmetry, which abounds in the canals, crescents and communities of Maida Vale, a place that she has called home for the last six years.”
Local artist Mukadas Muborakshoeva spoke to us about painting during lockdown and helping to sew masks for the NHS.
How did you find about the W9W2 Group initiative?
In search for information, the lockdown made many of us surfers of the waves of the internet. Wondering about events going on in my area, I came across @MaidaValeMuse on Twitter, to learn about the W9W2 Group Initiative, where Alice was looking for volunteers.
What made you support the group?
Seeing the situation with Covid-19 worsening and people losing their loved ones every day broke my heart. Without thinking twice, I decided to volunteer with the group sewing masks to help the NHS.
Have you volunteered before?
I belong to the @Ismaili Community and volunteering is part of our rich history. We officially celebrated 100 years of our volunteer work last year, but in fact our volunteerism has the history of over hundreds of years. We live in different parts of the world and try to help each other as well as helping the countries where we choose to live. It’s been over 20 years that I’ve been volunteering for communities in different countries.
What was the most exciting part volunteering with the group?
Alice and Sandy managed to gather a lovely group of volunteers from various walks of life who tirelessly supported their initiative with joy. I learnt once again that there are countless kind hearted people around and together we can form a huge power to make the world a better place. I also rediscovered that we can physically stay at home but virtually travel to the remotest parts of the world to help people fight this pandemic.
Have you travelled during this lockdown?
Yes. I had a few virtual field trips back-and-forth to Moscow and Tajikistan during this lockdown.
A group of girls from Tajikistan studying in London, France and Canada founded @PamiriYouthNetwork with the mission to help their communities.
They requested me to share the scheme of my W9W2 group’s work information, so they can also tailor a similar initiative for their volunteers. I consulted the idea with Sandy and she was more than happy to support. The group completed a project to help their Moscow community in April and continuing to raise funds for another project through @GoFundMe platform to purchase an oxygen generator and provide masks for medical centres in Tajikistan in the coming months.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Maida Unveiled?
I am in love with Maida Vale and often come here for a walk with my family. Its towpaths and waterways awaken my inspiration. I found out painting as a therapy during this uncertain times and turned my walls into home Lockdown gallery, where I expressed my feelings about the new normal. I think we all are going through mixed feelings and witnessed the birth of thousands of cape- less heroes: the NHS nurses. Bus drivers, shop keepers, street cleaners, those who sat at home following the lockdown rules and those who are making masks and helping to save thousands of lives in different parts of the world remain our unsung heroes. I feel proud that our groups’ efforts and initiative reached other people beyond Maida Vale.