It’s 40 years since the London Chinese Community Centre (CCC) arrived in Leicester Court. Open six days a week, it offers Cantonese and Mandarin language classes, calligraphy and dim sum workshops, and provides a space for members to get advice, share meals and keep Chinese culture alive. It’s been a vital hub for the Chinese community for decades, especially the city’s elderly. Fifty-two percent of members are over 65.
All of this is now at risk.
‘We have some funding from the government and council, but it’s not enough,’ says Beverly Lin, centre manager at the CCC. ‘We’re reliant on fundraising and the generosity of businesses in Chinatown. Big fundraising activities and charity events such as Lunar New Year, Easter, Dragon Boat Festival and Moon Festivals have all been cancelled or postponed. Nothing is coming in.’
Currently there are seven full-time staff and many volunteers at the centre. Throughout 2020 they have done vital work: collecting essentials for isolating senior citizens, offering Zoom lessons and helping those who’ve lost their jobs or homes.
‘But who knows what will happen to us if the virus hasn’t been controlled,’ says Lin. ‘There’s no way we can carry on doing any activity fundraising when we’re limited [by government guidelines] and we’re stretched so thin.’
Luckily, across the city, people are coming together to fight to save the centre. A crowdfunder has been launched to help pay for staff wages and resources. Plus, Instagrammer Celestial Peach – whose account chronicles Chinese cuisine and the people behind it – has designed a ‘congee lovers unite’ T-shirt in different colours and sold them to raise funds.
If the centre survives, its plan for the future is to try and become inclusive for all ages and nationalities. Lin is keen to make more of its services available online and doesn’t want its impact to be limited to the Chinatown region or only Chinese people. ‘Our doors are open to everyone,’ she says. So let’s help her achieve that.
Support the CCC crowdfunder here.
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