BBC volunteer leads Clapham clean up

Taylor Heather Taylor at the Clapham clean up

The images of Londoners wielding brooms in the aftermath of rioting in Clapham came about following a tweet from Heather Taylor, corporate community manager in the BBC's digital engagement team.

Heather, a Canadian who lives near Lavender Hill (a ten minute walk from the seat of the riot), ventured out in the early hours of Monday morning to look at the damage.

She had the idea for the clean up after reading how Vancouver residents had done the same, after the rioting and looting that took place in their city in June.

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There was an incredible sense of community, which you don't always get in London”

End Quote Heather Taylor BBC Corporate Community Manager

'At 0100 I tweeted for people to meet outside Nandos in the high street at 0900,' she said. 'I thought no one was going to come, but when I arrived there were already 40 people there, armed with brooms and gloves.'

By the time the clean up was complete, around 400 people had joined in. They'd travelled from all over London, determined to show a sense of solidarity with those whose streets had been targetted by vandals.

'I have a great boss and I was able to take the day off at short notice,' said Heather. 'We were really well co-ordinated. We grouped ourselves into teams and piled all the debris on the pavement. Then the big sweeper vehicles came in and moved it all away.'

Claire's (the jewellery and accessories shop) pinned a giant 'thank you' poster in their window and staff from Starbucks and Marks & Spencer brought out coffee and food.

'There was an incredible sense of community, which you don't always get in London', said Heather. 'People needed to feel that they were regaining control of their area and we made that clear to the politicians and authority figures who came to visit.'

In response to criticism about BBC coverage of the riots, head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth defended use of the term 'protestors' when the story first broke. Appearing on the Media Show she conceded that 'rioters and looters' was clearly now more appropriate.

Mary Hockaday also discusses terminology in her blog on BBC coverage.

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