10:12am Wednesday 8th August 2012
By Sarah Trotter
A year on from the riots in Lewisham and Woolwich, SARAH TROTTER finds out how those affected have dealt with the damage caused.
GUTTED pubs, flaming cars and swarms of hungry looters could be seen on the streets of Lewisham and Woolwich a year ago.
JD Sports in Catford, the Dirty South pub in Lee and more than 20 businesses in Woolwich - the worst-hit spot in south-east London - were all trashed on August 8.
Pictures of the burning Great Harry Pub in Wellington Street became iconic.
William Conley was working at the Great Harry last year and fled the pub just 10 minutes before it was set alight.
He said: "It was my day off and they called me in.
"There were lots of people outside and you could feel the atmosphere.
"We tried to stay hidden. We could see smoke from a fire.
"We legged it out the back door. Then 10 minutes later we got a phone call from a friend saying the pub was on fire.
"We were petrified.
"The whole front of the pub was burnt out - the ceiling had fallen through where heat had ruptured the beams."
The pub has since been fully refurbished under new management with stricter fire checks in place as a result of the fateful evening.
Mr Conley praised community support after the events but said he was worried as the anniversary approached.
He said: "I am anxious that it might happen again. It is the summer holidays - they will know what happened last year."
After the events, a "wall of words" was painted across the burnt-out pub-front with messages of hope and support from the community.
This year, a further image of solidarity is splashed across the face of Woolwich to mark the occasion.
After dark, the grey shutters on shop fronts - put up for security after the disturbances - now show the faces of Woolwich babies.
Katz Kiely, chief executive of Codis - which is coordinating the images with Ogilvy & Mather - said: "It is a celebration and a hat tip to those people that did the riots - it shows how the community pulls together.
"It’s been the most heart-warming project.
"There are some amazing people there who feel very strongly about their community. We are doing it now as the anniversary after those awful disturbances."
What difference have the riots made?
Joy Chapman, who runs a youth club and community welfare centre which helps people keep off the streets, has criticised the lack of help given post-riots to young people.
The organiser of youth club Big Sister - which is based in Woolwich High Street - said: "The riots alerted the community to the areas but it hasn’t made any difference to the kids on the street.
"What has anybody actually done to change it?
"Shops have improved their security - more CCTV - but what’s actually been done for the community?
"It is a joke. Why isn’t it down to the local council and MPs? It’s only down to the community to help the community."
The youth club offers a space for young people to socialise, play, and learn.
To find out more contact Ms Chapman on email@example.com
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