As the music played on one of London’s new flexible streets, a diverse crowd sang, danced and clapped to the beat.
At the Squat Street Party on Sackville Street and Hamilton Road, free entertainment, food, games and prizes provided a much needed boost for neighborhood residents.
“It’s awesome, I can’t believe it’s here,” said Linda, a woman who was thrilled to be able to get a much-needed free meal.
The festival was organized by the Crouch Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) and was back for the first time since the side road became a flex street in 2019.
“We’re really excited to celebrate the unique aspects of this neighborhood,” says NRC Director Jennifer Martino.
She adds, “There are people from all kinds of cultural, social and economic backgrounds, and the Crouch Neighborhood Resource Center works for the well-being of all neighborhood residents. We have basic needs services, but we also do things like children and youth programs and community development.
Martino says the area around NRC is one of London’s poorest areas and many residents face challenges on a daily basis.
“There’s something for everyone today,” says Martino. “There are activities for children, food, music and games, but the most important thing is that everything here today is free. You can dance, you can listen to music, you can eat a freezie, you can have lunch, and you don’t need a penny in your pocket to have a good time. We are all equal here today.
Music played on stage throughout the day, including Dealerz Choice, which took the stage just after noon.
“I’ve been playing in East London for 30 years,” says Dealerz Choice half Chico Sanchez. “This area can be tough, but something like this is great because you can see how much fun all of these people are having.”
NRC offers a range of neighborhood-based social, recreational and educational programs.
They also provide residents with emergency food and hygiene, basic needs and leadership opportunities, and after-school programs.