UK riots 2011 500 Londoners offer to help clean up rioters mess

Smashed: An internal view of damage to shop on London Road in Croydon

The Sony Distribution Centre in Enfield that was looted and set alight by rioters on Monday evening
We just came back from tour and it was such a shock to see the violence on telly,’ said the singer, whose band came to prominence with the hit I Predict A Riot.

‘I haven’t got a day job, so I thought I’d come down and help. An army of 500  volunteers with brooms and bin bags is a pretty powerful message.

‘People are out on the streets, reclaiming them. That’s real community spirit.’

Healthcare assistant Auriol Harford, 24, said: ‘In a year’s time, we are going to host the Olympics, but we can’t even control a few teenagers who want to steal some trainers.

‘A crowd of 200 people caused this damage, but there are now 500 here to clean it up. That sends out a strong message. There are more of us than them, and we are not going to let them claim our streets and neighbourhoods. I guess it’s a Blitz spirit.’

Her 22-year-old sister Elizabeth, a student, said: ‘I was absolutely furious that people could attack our community in such a thoughtless way.
‘So many people rallying here illustrates that we will not silently condone this thuggish behaviour.’

The community spirit was replicated across the capital as volunteers went to each high street affected by Monday’s violence and helped in the clean-up.

Many were co-ordinated by artist Dan Thompson, who started @riotcleanup on Twitter, and had 75,000 followers by yesterday afternoon.

Another group on Twitter called itself #riotwombles, a reference to the furry creations who cleaned up Wimbledon Common.

In Walworth, south-east London, more than 50 volunteers gathered to help businesses in the clear-up.

Among those badly hit by looters was TD Sports, a small independent sports supplier which suffered £50,000 worth of losses on Monday night.

Owner Dave Cox, 50, said: ‘I felt numb when I saw the damage, I just wanted to cry. I’m far from a wealthy person, and without this shop, I will lose my livelihood, my house, everything.’

But at 10.15am yesterday, something unexpected happened. As Mr Cox surveyed the carnage, a group of volunteers arrived and offered to help him clear it up.

In less than 30 minutes the smashed glass was swept away and the shop restored to a semblance of normality.

Then with cheery waves, the helpers were gone to help the next stricken business. ‘It was fantastic, I was very emotional actually,’ said Mr Cox. ‘It proves there are still some good people around.’

One of the volunteers was Father Andrew Moughtin-Mumby, rector of nearby St Peter’s Church, who witnessed the looting.

‘What was really shocking was that it was like a carnival atmosphere, it was surreal,’ he said.

‘This clean-up was completely spontaneous. This gives London some hope.

‘It also shows there’s still a real sense of community, the people are reclaiming the streets.’   In Liverpool, which also saw rioting on Monday, 21-year-old bartender Charles Jupiter set up a ‘Liverpool Clean Up’ Facebook page that brought about 100 volunteers onto the streets yesterday morning.

He said: ‘I thought: “Not in  my city”.

‘People were posting “I’m embarrassed to be English, I’m embarrassed to be from London or Liverpool.”

‘I reposted and said: “I’m not. That’s why I’m going out there to help clean up

Burnt out cars are removed from a residential street in Hackney this afternoon as the clean-up begins

A burnt out smart car is seen on Ealing High Street

A man sweeps glass from outside an organic food shop on Ealing High Street

Counting the cost: A woman speaks on the phone in Big Jim's Trims, a shop looted in Ealing

Aftermath: A fire fighter douses a burnt out building in Croydon, Surrey, following a third night of civil unrest on the streets of London

Wreck: A fireman walks past the burnt out shell of 140-year-old Reeves Furniture store in Croydon this morning

riotwombles: Volunteers wait to clear up after overnight disturbances in Clapham Junction, in south London
riotwombles: Volunteers wait to clear up after overnight disturbances in Clapham Junction, in south London
London hates looters': More volunteers in Clapham Junction, where they have congregated after call outs on Twitte

Helping hands: Part of a group of about 300 volunteers help clear the remains of destroyed vehicles in Hackney, north London

Ready: Volunteers spilled on to the streets of Clapham with brooms eager to get the clean-up under way after the devastation in their community

RiotWombles' sweeping to victory on the Walworth Road in Camberwell

Ready: Volunteers spilled on to the streets of Clapham with brooms eager to get the clean-up under way after the devastation in their community

Residents of Hackney club together to clean the streets outside their homes

Clean sweep: Brooms at the ready, people brought together through Twitter gather to clear up Clapham Junction, devastated in the riots last night

Armed and ready: Local residents with brooms and bin liners volunteered to clean up following rioting in Battersea

Clapham clean-up: Volunteers don rubber gloves to sweep the streets and pick up broken glass following the riots in the London suburb
They came armed with brooms and the odd wheelbarrow.Where youths had roamed the streets with bricks and bats just hours earlier, a new army had appeared.Invoking London’s famous ‘Blitz spirit’, volunteers responded defiantly to the worst violence the city has witnessed in decades by rolling up their sleeves and helping in the clean-up.