We had a fabulous time on Saturday at our September / ‘back-to-school’ festival. This was funded by Camden Council’s Community Festival fund and we put it on in partnership with Henna Asian Women’s Group. We’d also like to thank the People’s Health Trust, who are currently enabling us to keep opening on a Saturday with their two-year grant towards our Saturday cafe.
The day kicked off with a Tech Buddies taster session, which was very well-attended. Lots of new faces! Meanwhile all our lovely local stall-holders were setting up in the hall. This included our sewing and crotchet groups, some bric-a-brac / tombola stalls (CTCers raising money for Abbey), a henna artist, Jean’s nail salon and amazing local trader Uzma’s jewellery and accessories stall which I confess to buying a couple of treats from…
Our first performance in the hall was from our favourite band The Elderly Brothers who provided a wonderful backing track as our guests started trickling in, browsing the stalls and getting in line for food from Henna Asian Women’s Group. Which was to die for!
Elsewhere, Zam and Tissy held story and song time for the kids; Maria-Elena ran some gardening and craft workshops in the garden; Chanda and Sinead got selling the raffle tickets and Norman ran a Bridge taster in the foyer. Making use of all the space in the centre! We also had some of our lovely cafe volunteers selling smoothies and snacks in the Reception area.
It was soon starting to feel really buzzy and lively with all the entertainments and treats on offer! Some people went outside to enjoy their meal in the fresh air.
Next it was time to welcome our Mayor of Camden, Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells, who everyone was excited to hear from. She took to the stage and gave a great speech praising independent charities like Abbey then took the time to chat to some of our centre users and staff.
The CHAPS (our 50+men group) had a great time outside playing dominoes with some new guys. Indoors we had tasters of seated exercise; creative writing; boccia; and taekwondo – just some of the activities on offer at Abbey.
We also had a brilliant performance from the South Sudanese dance troupe to much applause. Abbey staff member Bryony was invited to take part at last minute which was an honour, not sure her dance moves were quite as stylish though…
Another much-enjoyed performance was given by local poet Nelissa, who previously ran the creative writing group at Abbey. She read moving poems on knife crime, mental health and cultural difference. You can listen to her poems on Youtube here.
Nelissa attends Tech Buddies which is where she received support to set up her channel and she now gets a well-deserved larger audience for her work which is great.
Finally the much-anticipated raffle results were announced! There was some fantastic prizes on offer included this gorgeous cake donated by our trustee John and a lovely hamper from Sainsbury’s Kilburn High Rd, for whom we are local charity of the year.
We had a wonderful day and hope all our guests did too. We’d like to say a big thank you again to all our volunteers, stallholders, Henna Asian Women’s Group, Camden Council’s festival fund, our MC Paul, our photographer May, our trustees, Sainsbury’s, all our performers and Oscar’s Den for providing the balloons – an essential part of any festival I’m sure you’ll agree!
Hope to do something similar next year. It’s certainly seen off any end-of-summer blues and got some new faces into the centre too which is always a good thing. Here are some of the lovely comments we received on the day…
“Food was great and a lovely feeling”
“Wonderful, amazing, everyone very friendly”
“Fantastic food, never eaten before like this. Very very tasty thanks a lot”
“Fantastic afternoon, I’m having such a good time… pleasant staff, good food and entertainment, reasonable books and other items… it’s all happening here… topped up with a speech from the Mayor of Camden… can’t ask for more.”