Story #7

The ‘Good Folk’ of Albert Crescent, Bury St Edmunds

Up and down the country, the Lockdown led to spontaneous burst of community spirit and kindness, with many commentators remarking on how neighbours rallied – and the media was awash with stories of togetherness, with an outburst of neighbourly compassion in villages, towns and cities. No more so that in a small crescent in the historic Suffolk market town of Bury St Edmunds. Albert Crescent comprises around 35 houses and about 60 people. 

There were many community champions in the Crescent, none more so that Malcolm Stewart who ensured less nimble and more isolated neighbours got the help they needed with shopping, picking up medication and prescriptions. Some had current medical concerns, combined with general feeling of unease in going to the supermarket, many were shielding as recommended by the NHS. 

As he says: “ At the beginning of the lockdown just simply going around knocking on the door and checking people were OK was really well received. I produced newsletters for those living on Albert Crescent. These were really appreciated too – especially my carefully curated humorous pictures and photos! ” 

Malcolm also helped out with IT support, odd jobs and giving neighbourly support and re-assurance. He also, rather to his surprise, took to making soda bread and finding himself (at peak demand!) to regularly baking 20 loaves. People on the Crescent formed an active and lively WhatsApp group with upwards of 30 participants. This contributed to a great sense of wellbeing, near neighbourliness and camaraderie. Malcolm commented:

“I think in the first and second lockdown – I got a real sense of community spirit and being in this together despite the relative paucity of information at that time about Covid-19 and how we as a country were going to deal with it. Whether it will continue I can’t say – if we manage to have a Street Party this year (say later this summer) we might be in a better position to find out. Thanks to the previous Street Parties we already have a good community spirit in Albert Crescent I feel. 

Although I made the effort initially, I know that since then others have supported each other (and try much continue to). I know that several neighbours really appreciated my efforts – not just the practical side but simply knowing that someone close-by cared and was willing to physically engage to ensure they were OK.”

To get in touch with Malcolm: