Riot clean-up brings 400 volunteers to Clapham Junction

By Vanessa Barford
BBC News

image captionSome have been at Clapham Junction since the morning to help up with the clean up

Hundreds of people are gathered outside cordons or on the main high street in Clapham Junction to help with the clean-up operation.

There is a sense of a community coming together in this busy commuter hub of south London, with locals armed with brooms and brushes, bin bags and gloves; rallying to show their support for shop owners and local businesses.

Some have been at scene since 0900 BST. Heather Taylor, 33, who lives in the area, says she took to Twitter to try to gather support for a community clean-up at 0100 BST.

"I tweeted that people who wanted to help should meet at 9am outside Nandos.

"About 50 people turned up. Since then, about 400 people have arrived or got in touch.

"There are about eight volunteer leaders and we are splitting into teams.

"There are a lot of people afraid here, this is a chance for people to feel safe and take back their streets," she said.

'Senseless violence'

Teachers Debbie Adams, 31, and Rachel Jennings, 31, and business owner Matthew Haines, 34, who all live in Clapham Junction, have come down with brooms three times.

Ms Adams said: "It has been pretty scary having this in our backyard - there was lots of looting and activity last night.

"It was important to us to help with the clear up, we wanted to get into the community spirit and do our bit."

And it is not just locals who are in on the action. Jo Baldwin, 24, a student midwife, and Ian Rigby, 28, a senior accountant, travelled down from Haringey to help.

"It's such senseless violence, idiotic behaviour by teenagers. Lots of shops and landlords will have lost a lot of money, some don't have insurance, so we wanted to show our support," says Mr Rigby, who has taken the afternoon off to help the aid effort.

Waved brooms

Miss Baldwin added: "Quite often you see sad things on the news but can't do anything - it's a rare opportunity when you get to volunteer, to actually do something."

Most of the shops on the main high street remain closed but M&S has been handing out free cookies and sweets, while Starbucks has coffee for cleaners.

This morning there was an obvious sense of shock and disbelief from local residents, but this afternoon the dominating feeling was one of resilience and defiance.

Just before 1400 BST, there were cheers from the crowds as firefighters finally left the scene of a party shop which had been set alight by rioters on Monday night.

Those that had gathered for the clean-up operation waved their brooms in the air in celebration.

It may take more than a few sweeps for shopkeepers and local businesses to recover from the violence and looting that destroyed many of their properties, but it seemed that local residents were determined to help restore confidence in the community.

More on this story