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There With You: Forest Gate emporium ‘at the heart’ of community launches crowdfunder as sales slump

PUBLISHED: 10:00 04 April 2020

Little Mix turned heads when they visited Number 8 Forest Gate for a photo shoot about three years ago. Here pictured with Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest Gate

Little Mix turned heads when they visited Number 8 Forest Gate for a photo shoot about three years ago. Here pictured with Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest Gate

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A fundraising appeal has been launched to help a shop “at the heart” of a high street.

Jeff trained as a diamond setter at Hatton Garden, the capital's jewellery district. Picture: Number 8 Forest GateJeff trained as a diamond setter at Hatton Garden, the capital's jewellery district. Picture: Number 8 Forest Gate

As with many businesses, times are hard for Number 8 Forest Gate Emporium in Sebert Road which has had to close temporarily due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But a crowdfunding page has been set up to support the jewellery, crafts and antiques shop which owner, jeweller Jeff Levy, and partner, Andie Mercer, have transformed into a community hub.

Besides renting space to other sellers, Jeff and Andie hosted workshops, helped run keep fit classes outside and supported groups, including mums’ charity, The Magpie Project, and Lola’s Homeless.

Jeff also makes jewellery using children’s pictures.

A Scandi style pendant made by Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest GateA Scandi style pendant made by Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest Gate

However, with bills coming in the pair expect to have to go to their bank and landlord to ask for help keeping afloat.

Jeff, who trained as a diamond setter in Hatton Garden and has 43 years in the trade, continues to design and make jewellery, but custom has slowed though deliveries are available.

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“It’s been difficult. I’m grateful the landlord has been helpful, yet again. But there’s not much I can do at the moment,” Jeff said.

A pair of magpie earrings made by Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest GateA pair of magpie earrings made by Jeff. Picture: Number 8 Forest Gate

Andie added trade was just picking up after a sales slump caused by Crossrail building work, but the Covid-19 lockdown dealt another blow.

And accessing government help has proven tricky with a long list of businesses queued up in the system seeking support.

“It’s a nightmare. I don’t know what will happen,” Andie said.

The Patreon crowdfunder invites supporters to donate £5, £10 or £30 per month with Number 8 returning the favour when business returns to normal. Offers include a 10 per cent discount off purchases.

There With You - the Newham Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.There With You - the Newham Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.

Cllr Rachel Tripp, who set up the fundraising page, said: “It is my sincere hope that people who are still being paid are able to contribute to help keep this lovely place going.”

On supporting small businesses in general, Cllr Tripp added: “Every pound each of us spends right now is a vote for the kind of Newham we want after the pandemic is over.”

Andie said: “Our amazing community has supported us again. Thank you for having faith in us.”

To donate or share visit patreon.com/number8fg


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