‘I’m giving back to the community after they helped me’, Old Cottage Cafe owner says

The Old Cottage Cafe in Charlton Park has been delivering food to people stuck at home since the crisis began

The owner of a Charlton cafe offering free lunches to the vulnerable says he is giving back to the community following an outpouring of support after a break-in last year.

As the coronavirus outbreak turns the lives of vulnerable residents upside down, Michael Lauricourt, along with his wife Mimi and an employee from the Old Cottage Cafe in Charlton Park have been cooking and delivering free lunches to local people.

Elderly and isolated households in Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath are being treated to hot meals courtesy of the cafe.

The initiative comes after thousands of pounds was raised for the much-loved cafe following a burglary in January last year.

Michael, who has run the cafe since it was opened in 2012, said: “We have always been part of the community – the community was behind us when we were broken into. When this all started the thought about how we could best help the community.

“Councillor John Fahy gave me a few names of people who couldn’t get out and about and we gave them free lunch, at first it was out of our own pocket. Since then, somebody else gave me a donation to help the work I’m doing. I’m keeping that ‘somebody’ private – but I’m very privileged to be able to do this to help the elderly.”

While he is helping the effort against the virus, Michael is mourning the death of his own father, George, who passed away on 22 March, aged 94, of circumstances not related to coronavirus.

Michael recently delivered food and tea to staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich

But Michael insists he and his wife wouldn’t be able to sit still if they had to sit at home, with their cafe closed due to government restrictions.

He said: “It has been overwhelming actually. It does feel good to give something back to the community – it’s very rewarding. When I see the people, I can see that they are so in need. Their mobility is not good. They are struggling – one person’s wife has dementia and he struggles to walk around.

“I’m sort of putting myself at risk – but I feel like I need to be out in the community and helping. In the cafe we are used to working seven days a week – if we are at home we’ll be wondering what we can do. We need to be out and about.”

At the moment a dozen households are being given free lunches – but there is scope to help more in the coming weeks.

Michael added: “We would like to stretch it out – but we can’t go too big you know. It’s only two people delivering at the moment, one is a worker, Erica, who volunteered. We need to keep it manageable. It’s only me and my wife and Erica, it’s only three of us.

“But we will look at helping more, if more people do need support. We can think about going down that road.”

On top of delivering the lunches three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Fridays) Michael and the team are going shopping for the vulnerable for their necessities and giving them vital human contact.

He said: “When we see these people we can see they are in need. Their mobility isn’t good and they are isolated. They need to have some human contact.”

The Old Cottage Cafe has also, as of this week, began donating tea, coffee and cake to NHS workers at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Woolwich Common. Workers were given banana cake and bread pudding along with two urns of coffee and tea.

The future remains uncertain for many small businesses – including the Old Cottage Cafe – but for the time being helping the community is the priority.

Michael said: “We don’t know how long this is going to go on for. We may have to ask for donations later down the line to keep going and delivering the food but at the moment we are managing. It’s very uncertain. I’m quite concerned about the future – we have been closed down. At first we were doing just takeaway but then we were told to shut the shop down.

“The council aren’t too sure themselves about what is going on with the rent – everyone’s situation is different. In the meantime we’ll just plod on as we are. If anyone else is needs help we can consider if we can do it – we need to be out and about.”

The Old Cottage Cafe can be reached on Twitter at @oldcoffeeshop.

TOM BULL is a freelance journalist and former BBC local democracy reporter. We have commissioned him to write about how communities and businesses are reacting to the coronavirus emergency in SE London – something we can only do because of the generosity of people who fund The Charlton Champion and its sister site 853, or bought our postcards. Thank you to all who have helped.


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Shop locally during the coronavirus crisis – even while staying at home

The Village Greengrocer remains a popular choice

It goes without saying that this is a very tough time for local businesses. But what ones are helping you get through the coronavirus lockdown?

Now the situation has settled down a little, we’d like to compile a list of local shops and services that are staying open to serve their communities or SE London businesses that’ll deliver to Charlton. (After all, it’s a little frustrating finding “free delivery!” and then discovering it stops in SE10 or SE3…)

We’re looking for…

  • places in Charlton or within easy walking distance where you can pick up goods, or
  • places elsewhere in SE London offering delivery to SE7 – particularly ones that didn’t do that already and aren’t on the usual services

Please tell us about them in the comments below or email us and we’ll add them to the list. Thank you.

Here’s our list so far – updated on Tuesday 21 April – if you use them, tell them we sent you!

Groceries

  • 💥CHARLTON CHAMPION DISCOUNT!💥 Little Sparrow Tea will do free local delivery and 20% off if you are in SE7, SE10 or SE18. Enter CharltonVIP at the checkout, and select “free local pick-up” – it’ll be delivered to you instead. Thanks to Adrian at Little Sparrow for arranging this for our readers. (website)
  • The Village Greengrocer in Charlton Village remains a staple – currently open Monday to Saturday 9am-3pm (check Twitter for updates)
  • There’s also Apple N’ Orange on Old Dover Road (Facebook page)
  • GG Sparkes butchers on Old Dover Road is also still going strong (check Facebook page for opening hours)
  • Brothers Bakery on Old Dover Road remains open (Facebook)
  • Very Green Grocer delivers across south-east London from Shooters Hill (website) (closed to new customers)
  • Paul Rhodes Bakery delivers within an eight-mile radius of Greenwich, so that’s us sorted (website)
  • Blackheath Pantry will deliver to SE7 – email jennifer[at]theblackheathpantry.co.uk for more details (Instagram)
  • Charlton Bakehouse will deliver bread to Charlton, Blackheath and Lee (website)
  • Tortoise Tom will deliver coffee all the way from Woolwich (website)
  • Drury Tea and Coffee will also deliver from Woolwich (website)
  • Spier’s Salads are delivering fruit, veg and meat staples boxes as well as coffee to SE postcodes (website)
  • Stickleback Fish will deliver to SE7, although its website hasn’t yet been updated to reflect that (website)
  • The Cheeseboard in Greenwich does free local deliveries in SE7 for orders over £35 (website)
  • Drings butchers in Greenwich does free local deliveries for the over-70s and isolated (website)
  • Salento Food and Wine, an Italian deli, will deliver free in SE7 if your order is over £30 (website)
  • Daun’s Deli in Catford will deliver in SE London on orders over £15 (website)
  • Mar de Olivos is offering free delivery of olive oil and more from Blackheath to SE3, SE7, SE9, SE10 and SE18 addresses (website)
  • Corner shops: It should go without saying, but your local corner shop can get you out of a pickle. We’ve had good reports of Victoria Food Stores on Inverine Road.

Children’s stuff

  • Ottie and the Bea at Blackheath Standard is delivering books and toys locally (see its website).
  • Charlton’s own The Big Red Bus Club is doing online storytelling at 1.30pm daily (website)
  • Singalong Sally is performing online for children live from Catford at 10am on weekdays (website)
  • Greenwich Libraries are offering Baby Rhyme Time sessions via Facebook
  • Beadoir in Greenwich Market is offering same-day delivery to SE7 (website)
  • Lots of children’s activities at Mycenae House have moved online (website)

Cakes

  • Dolce Idea Cake Design in Abbey Wood have been offering deliveries (Facebook)

Books and newspapers/ magazines

  • Greenwich Libraries offer e-books, audiobooks and online access to newspapers and magazines (website)
  • Southwark Libraries give access to a broader range of magazines and the wonder that is the Times Digital Archive (website – you can sign up for one month online)
  • Order books via hive.co.uk, which will give a portion of your money to Ottie and the Bea or any other independent bookshop of your choice – you choose at checkout.

Food

Gardening

  • Alan’s Garden Centre in Halstow Road, Greenwich is “closed but open” – take a look at the website, send a text to check availability, and then make an appointment to pick up. (website)
  • PlantSavers will deliver plants from nurseries that would have gone to waste to SE postcodes (website)

Opticians

  • Page & Small on Charlton Road are still working from home: “We are still providing urgent and essential eyecare primarily by telephone and video but f2f if required / genuine emergency. We can offer repairs and replacement specs where needed. Contact lenses can still be ordered and will be delivered straight to home. We’re offering sunglasses style consultations via video calling for those we have seen before.” (website)
First to the bar…

Post Office – check with its branch finder

  • Charlton Church Lane (open 12.30pm-5.30pm weekdays, 9am-2pm weekends)
  • Shooters Hill Road (10am-4pm Mon-Sat)
  • Stratheden Parade (Blackheath Standard) (9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat)
  • Maryon Road (8am-8pm Mon-Sun)

Royal Mail

  • The Greenwich and Charlton delivery office on Horn Lane is now only open from 7am to 9am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Booze

  • CHARLTON CHAMPION SPECIAL: Husk Brewing is across the river in the Royal Docks, and they’ll deliver fresh beer south of the river on Sundays between 2pm and 6pm (within three miles – easily includes Charlton). We asked and they offered to deliver south of the river, so order away! (Check for updates @HuskBrewing and order on their website – the day has now changed from when we first published this.)
  • The River Ale House in Woolwich Road, Greenwich is open for takeouts Mon-Fri 5-7pm, Sat-Sun 3-5pm (Facebook)
  • A little further afield, the Pelton Arms in Greenwich is doing drinks and food to take away (Twitter)
  • Villages Brewery, Deptford is doing free delivery of cans of fresh beer (website)
  • Common Rioters Brewery, Plumstead offers craft beer from all over the place and delivers free within Greenwich borough (website)
  • The Kentish Belle, a micropub in Bexleyheath, is delivering to SE7 on orders of £20 or more, including some cask ale (website)
  • Theatre of Wine in Greenwich is delivering (website)
  • Davy’s in Greenwich is offering free delivery of wine over £75 in SE7 (website)
  • Beerguideldn.com has details of other breweries and shops who may deliver.
  • The Rusty Bucket pub in Eltham is now delivering to surrounding areas including Charlton (website)

Cycling

  • Greenwich Cycle Workshop on Woolwich Road, Greenwich is still open (see website)

Local arts

  • Fiona Veacock Ceramics is running classes online – if you ever wanted to learn how to do things with clay, now’s the time to do it from home! (website)
  • Greenwich Theatre is running events online under the name Greenwich Connects
  • Trinity Laban‘s Self Isolation Creation programme includes a live stream or film from one of its students, staff members or alumni every weeknight at 8pm (website)
  • Equality Dance has been holding virtual dance classes on Saturdays (Facebook)
  • Kerry on Dancing, usually in Mycenae House, has moved to Zoom (website)
  • Lots of other arts classes and activities at Mycenae House have also moved online (website)
  • The Kimberleys, the Blackheath-based folk duo, have been performing from their balcony on YouTube
  • My Only Desire Records is a Plumstead reissue label that will deliver to you (website)
  • Deptford Northern Soul Club Records will also deliver (website)
  • Casbah Records in Greenwich will send records to you (website)
  • The How Does It Feel To Be Loved? club night, which used to have occasional nights at the Montague Arms in Peckham (and they’re mates of ours), will bring its indie pop and soul disco to your front room every Saturday night (website)
  • Happy Mondays Comedy, usually at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, has moved online with a show on Easter Monday (Facebook)
  • Dulwich Hamlet Comedy Club has also moved online, with its next show on Sunday 5 May (website)

Postcards

Where to get help

  • Greenwich Council’s community hub is available if you are self-isolating and have not got a family member, friend or neighbour who can help. Volunteers can collect and deliver prescriptions, deliver essential food packages and connect you to local community services. Call 0800 470 4831 or email covid19support[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk.
  • Alternatively, you can also contact Greenwich Covid-19 Mutual Aid which is run by local residents. Call 020 7183 7127, fill in the form, or email greenwichmutualaid[at]gmail.com. (Facebook)

If you know any more – please leave a comment or email us (it’s easier to keep track of than social media). Also, if you’re a business happy to expand your delivery options a tiny bit further to include SE7, or would like to offer our readers a discount, we’d love to hear from you!


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
Become a monthly supporter at presspatron.com/charltonchampion
Advertise your business with us from just £9.80/per week
Celebrate our neighbourhood and order postcards or a print

Coronavirus in Charlton: Council warns of mask and sanitiser rip-offs

Shops across London have been selling masks and sanitiser (Photo: Duncan C via Creative Commons)

Greenwich Council has warned of rogue traders selling face masks and hand sanitisers during the coronavirus crisis – and reminded residents that there is no evidence that masks will protect from Covid-19.

Trading standards officers visited two shops last week selling disposable face masks which had been split into separate packages, interfering with the product’s integrity, according to the council. Officers also found a number of “potentially irregular” hand sanitisers for sale.

The council said all the products were immediately withdrawn from sale.

A spokesperson said the masks had limited use outside of medical settings and urged the public to continue keeping two metres apart from each other and to keep washing their hands thoroughly.

“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings,” the spokesperson said.

“The best defence is to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water, or hand sanitiser if soap and hot water is not available. As well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin. Please note that a hand sanitiser must contain more than 60 per cent alcohol to be effective.”

Residents with concerns about local retailers in Greenwich borough should email tradingstandards[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk, while concerns about national retailers should be reported to the Competition and Markets Authority.

With many traders hiking prices of hand sanitisers and other cleaning products to cash in on the epidemic, the prime minister said yesterday that there may be legislation to tackle the price gougers.

During prime minister’s questions, he said: “I think that profiteering is something that we should be looking at from a legislative point of view in this House as has happened before in this country.”


LDRS logoLachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
See more about how The Charlton Champion uses LDRS content.