Silver Threads is where a ‘mixture of people’ come together as one
- Credit: Archant
Canning Town charity, Community Links, is celebrating its’ 40th birthday. To mark the milestone, it’s created the 40 Stories project, sharing inspiring tales from those whose lives have been changed by the organisation.
The Recorder spoke to just a few of those featured, to find out what difference Community Links has made for them.
“We don’t have any rows, no bothers, nothing.
“That’s the nicest thing about it. We have such a mixture of people, from Irish, Asian, Jamaican backgrounds. They’re all different nationalities and they all get on so well with one another.”
John and Pat Weaver have been running Silver Threads in Community Links for 10 years. The couple, who were born and raised in Newham, took the bingo group from a small gathering of 12 to a club of 60 members.
“John and I had retired, and we were out shopping one day,” said Pat.
“We saw an advert in the shop across the road for a bingo club. We thought we’d come over and see what it was about.”
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Pat, 74, and John, 79, became regular members, befriending Beryl who ran the club. They became good friends, and when she found out she had cancer, she asked the couple to take over. They renamed it Silver Threads, and have been going strong ever since.
Pat said: “It has changed because it goes by word of mouth.
“A lot of the ladies go to different clubs, and you get them asking to join ours. It accumulates that way.”
“We’ve always been involved with different people in the community,” John added.
“Even before we came here we’d mix with other people. When you work on the railway, everyone gets together.”
When John retired, he was working on the railways. Before that, he’d done every job under the son, from plumbing to lorry driving.
He met Pat at the former British Railway Club in Windmill Lane. After courting for five years, they got married in 1962, and have since moved across Newham, finally settling in a house across the road from Community Links.
Next year, they’re planning on moving to Braintree in Essex. But they’ve no plans to quite Silver Threads just yet.
“We’ll be carrying on Silver Threads for as long as we’re fit enough to do it,” Pat said.
“A lot of people don’t get out at all. For some of them, this is the only day they go out. At least here, they can come out, mix with other people, and I think that’s one of the main things for them.”
Attracting people from all walks of life is also a priority for Natesh Chittlur, who owns the coffee shop, Moka House, across the road from the charity.
“I want to be able to expand my business and create a coffee shop which is accessible to people from all walks of life, and bring a sense of togetherness within it,” he said.
“My dream is to create a hub where people can express themselves.”
Natesh set up the business three years ago with his wife, Tatiana.
He’s made an effort to make the family-run cafe as accessible as possible, with wheelchair and buggy access, but he still wants to expand the client base further.
“Due to supplier costs rising and having limited financial resources I am struggling to implement all the ideas I have,” he said.
“As a small business it is very difficult to get yourself recognised and we still have people coming and mentioning that they didn’t realise a coffee shop existed here.”
But still, Natesh is optimistic. He believes having Community Links across the road will help him succeed.
“I believe our dreams relate well with the vision of Community Links,” he said.
“Community Links is really important in this area. They are very committed to working with the whole community. I want it to succeed.”
Community Links will be publishing the entire 40 Stories collection this year.