Together we are stronger

We all feel uncertain about the future and the impact that the result of the EU referendum will have.  The one thing that we can feel sure about is that the success of the East End is in large part due to the extraordinary diversity of its people, and the undeniably positive contributions of centuries of immigrants from Europe and from all over the world who’ve set up small businesses here.

We can also be proud that there is a fine tradition of sanctuary in our part of London, refugees have fled from persecution through the Docks in search of a better life and their achievements have been absorbed through time into the culture of this vibrant neighbourhood, cultivating our traditions and helping to make the East End the distinctive place that we all know and love.

In the final week of our campaign, and in the current climate, I have been reflecting on the positive stories of immigration and of the solidarity between small business owners and the wider community, and how people from all backgrounds have supported one another in difficult times. Trades people of the East End have always come together during moments of crisis for the benefit of all. The Chartist movement was catalysed in the East End by weavers, bakers, shoe makers, carpenters and tailors who were both indigenous East Enders and migrant people, working together in common cause.

Examples such as The Bow Mach Girls strike, and the Docker strike also show how collective action strengthened and formalised civic alliances of the industrial East End and made a concrete difference to the quality of life for many. The friendly societies of old were formed out of a need for people to associate in order to resist the ravages of the the industrial revolution. It was ordinary men and women working together which gave birth to Chartism, unionism, the Labour Party and to the Welfare State. And before the industrial revolution some of the earliest forms of civic groups were the trade associations, known as guilds.

During a visit to C. E Waste Paper Merchants who have been recycling in the East End before anyone else realised it was a good idea. I was reminded of this tradition of solidarity when recording Carol Burns for our new short film. Carol told me about her Dad, Charlie Burns and how working class and migrant communities support each other in the East End.

“My Dad Charlie Burns, he was born on this street in 1915. When he left the army he set up a recycling business. When he eventually got his property here, and the Bangladeshi people first came over, my Dad used to help them out with their furniture and they would pay him a shilling a week. And those people, as they grew up and got on, they never ever forgot my Father. They still come down now telling me what a good man my Dad was because of the way he helped them in the early 50’s and the 60’s.”


Our new film features three of our beloved founders Carol Burns, Paul Gardner and Philip Pittack.

Paul Gardner has kept the family tradition going since the 1960’s when his Father passed away, and his business supplies the myriad of culturally diverse markets all across London. Philip Pittack’s Grandfather Mendell, came from Poland more than a hundred years ago and his Father David was at the front of the opposition to Mosley and his cronies.

Now more than ever is the time for solidarity. Together in support of one another we can get through the uncertain times ahead. As Carol says “I think it would be a good idea to get all the small businesses together, so they can relate to what is going on. We all help each other, and to get together will be a very, very good thing”.

If we reach £20,000 on the 8th July we can keep the East End’s excellent tradition of solidarity going strong, and celebrate the small businesses that make our area uniquely inclusive and diverse on East End Independents’ Day. It is essential that we shout about these inclusive values now, when the dangerous political rhetoric seeks to divide us and drown out the positive stories of successfully diverse neighbourhoods like ours. If you can help us, we will work with small businesses to amplify the incredible stories that our members have to tell about their economic, social and cultural contributions to our part of London.

In the first eight days of our campaign, we were able to get over half way to our target. With your help we can achieve the same in our final seven. Head to our IndieGoGo page now to support our Guild.

Anna & Nevio Pellicci.
“We joined because it’s really important to keep the heart and soul of the East End. We’ve always had change but we don’t want it to become homogenised and all the same. I think everyone with all their little quirks, it’s what makes the East End and we need to keep that heart and soul alive. Otherwise it will become like everywhere else with all the chain stores. It needs to be a mashup of anybody and everybody, we need to keep the roughnecks like the Pellicci’s here!” Anna Pellicci. E. Pellicci, 332 Bethnal Green Rd, E2 0AG.


Mr Hafiz Jafferji, Newmans Stationery, 324 Bethnal Green Rd, E2 0AG.


Nick in mash tun
“We at The Five Points are proud to be members of the East End Trades Guild. East London and our home borough of Hackney are very much part of what makes our brewery what it is, and we support many other businesses, enterprises and charities based in the area. We hope our membership in the Guild provides us with new opportunities to work with other producers and small businesses based in East London” Five Points Brewing Company. Five Points Brewing Company, 3 Institute Place, E8 1JE.


“I’m proud to say that Lily Vanilli bakery is a new member of the East End Trades Guild. After eight years trading in East London and five in my bricks and mortar on Columbia Road, it’s safe to say that East London has been a huge part of shaping what my business is today. It’s also been exciting to watch how supportive the community has been to other young businesses and entrepreneurs setting up for themselves – long may it continue to thrive!” Lily Jones, proprietor of Lily Vanilli. Lily Vanilli, 6, The Courtyard, Ezra St, E2 7RH.


Hash Hirji, Urban Species, 14 Cheshire St, London E2 6EH.

The potential for extraordinary things from the list of astounding businesses who’ve supported the Guild thus far is enormous. Head over to our IndieGoGo page to join or support us today!

A. Gold
Ally Capellino
Angela Flanders Perfumer
Baddeley Brothers
Black Truffle
Bob & Blossom
Buhler & Co
C E Waste paper Merchants
Cafe Caribbean
Caravan Style
Caroline Bousfield, Master Potter
Chaat Ltd
Chatsworth Road Market Association
Choosing Keeping
Crescent Trading
Dazzle Ship
Deli Downstairs
Dowse & Co
Duke of Uke
East End Prints
E5 Bakehouse
Five Points Brewing Company
Genesis Cinema
GH Cityprint
Ince Umbrella’s
Jenny Lewis
Johnston Architecture & Design
La Bouche
Labour and Wait
Leyden Gallery
Lily Vanilli
Luke Jacob
Luna & Curious
Mama Thai
Mercadito Productions
Nelly Duff
Newmans Stationery
Newspeak House
Nook Shop
Nom Living
One Four Six
Polka Pants
Play Vinyl
Plot London
Roman Road Market
Source Lifestyle
Spitalfields City Farm
Splice TV & Film
Tatty Devine
The De Beauvoir Deli
Tracey Neuls
Turning Earth
Urban Species
Whitechapel Coffee Company
William Gee

By Founding Organiser Krissie Nicolson.