Is it Possible to Love Your Town – and Get the Whole Community to do the Same? # ThisIsUs


There’s a line in the musical film Moulin Rouge when Christian tells Satine that “Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong, and all you need is love.”

It’s beautiful that a community is reinforcing this melody that love is not only a many splendored thing – it’s also a verb. 

There’s another unforgettable one-liner about love, that it’s simply about helping the one in front of you. And that’s exactly what a handful of Nottingham Road residents did when they saw what Level 5 Lockdown (in 2020) meant to many in their community: poverty, unemployment, and desperation. 

The beginning

Sandra Berning, Jon Bates, Missy Hughes and Julie Howe together with the Nottingham Road Landowners Association, rallied to raise funds and coordinate efforts to feed as many hungry people as possible. At its peak, the group were feeding 3500 people a month. 

Missy tearfully recounts how one elderly local woman who adopted seven orphans fell to her knees and prayed in gratitude for every food parcel she received – thanking Love Notties for keeping her family alive during lockdown. 

When the challenges and complications of running a programme like this became overwhelming, the generous donations of so many lasted for months and have since evolved from a feeding programme into a non-profit organization aimed at transforming Nottingham Road and uniting the community for positive change. 

Missy says, “We realized the feeding programme would come to an end, and we wanted to take the initiative further and make it a sustainable operation that could continue to impact and uplift individuals and the community as a whole.” 

Inspired by the folk at Love Howick and by the extensive and impressive community projects they’ve pulled off over the last 6-7 years, Love Notties was born.

“Handing out food parcels we really got to know so many people in the community and that has been a tremendous blessing.” 

Volunteers with skin in the game

The group have since encouraged unemployed recipients of food parcels to register as volunteers at Love Notties. These unemployed people can be a part of Love Notties community projects and in exchange for their participation earn tokens to use in the Love Notties secondhand shop.

Regularly you’ll see – in and around Nottingham Road – locals in green t-shirts cleaning up the streets and gathering items for recycling. These bags of rubbish or recycling are then taken to Love Notties on the R103 and traded for tokens that can be used to buy items in the shop which is full of gently worn clothes, shoes, toys, linen and blankets. The shelves are stacked thanks to support from local residents who are donating daily to this cause. 

Love Notties has also subsequently joined forces with the dynamic women from Nottingham Road Refreshed – a team that has been beautifying and uplifting the area for the past nine years.

Says Missy, “It makes sense for us to all work together and share resources where we can. We are currently brainstorming how to solve issues in the community like the lack of public toilets and the desperate need for basic skills development training. We are identifying members of the community and sponsoring them to attend training and development courses run by Love Howick.

We’ve got great stories of lives being impacted and uplifted that are unfolding daily.”  

Written By Antoinette McDonald, this is a story of Social Cohesion at work, built on the ethos of co-dependence. #ThisIsUs

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