The relationships made through our work in Brixton led us to support a vital initiative encouraging reconciliation in Tottenham, led by the remarkable, indomitable and charismatic Pastor Daphne Marche.
Distressed by the conditions of aging West Indians in her community, Daphne started to cook lunches in her kitchen and distribute them in her own car – an informal Meals on Wheels. Haringey Council eventually provided a room at the town hall for the weekly lunches to be served there by Daphne and friends, who personally collected the elderly from their homes.
CHIPS fundraising supported key projects like these lunches, and regular Eucharists in CHIPS London home at 31 Green Street brought black and white communities together.
Roy supported Daphne in her dealings with the Council, as well as providing specialist advice on accountancy and law, enabling Pastor Daphne to set up the charitable organization GRACE – Get Relief, Advice, Counselling and Encouragement – at the Whitehall and Tenterden Community Centre.
It was a major breakthrough, Pastor Daphne’s incredible courage surmounting enormous difficulties with prayer and faith – a pattern to be repeated throughout GRACE’s history.
Early in the project’s development the Broadwater Farm riots broke out on the notorious Tottenham estate, following the fatal heart-attack of Cynthia Jarrett as the police were searching for her son. The riots caused widespread destruction and the death of PC Keith Blakelock, hardening the divides within the community and threatening emerging multi-racial projects on the estate.
On 7th October 1985, the morning after the Broadwater Farm riots, Roy phoned Daphne to express his shock and to give her his condolences about what had happened. Both felt a desire to visit, but agreed that neither of them would visit without the other. So together they walked around the estate, listening to West Indian residents and the police alike, and expressing their genuine sorrow at what had happened. Because they were together, with no agenda but to be there among those who were traumatised, their visit had enormous significance, and its impact was lasting.
GRACE was uniquely placed to begin repairing the damage.
Needing help to care for the senior citizens attending the new centre, GRACE provided opportunities for younger helpers to come, encouraging them to talk informally, allowing deeper needs to surface and for problems to be addressed. Home visits and social action expanded the help available to local residents.
GRACE emerged from this pivotal moment in Tottenham’s history as a crucial agent of reconciliation, a symbol of improved relations within a diverse and challenged population, as well as becoming the most valued daycare centre in the borough.