Just popping in to tell you about an event next weekend in Reading that’s being organised by one of our town’s amazing community leaders; Dee, AKA Doris Allimadi.

I first learned about Dee when I came across an article about how she had been distributing food parcels to homeless people here. I later discovered she’d written a book about her experience of depression, and encouraged her youngest daughter, Alyssa, to write, illustrate and self-publish an alphabet of fruit and veg. I got in touch and Dee spotted from my online presence that I could knit… I offered to show her how, and so a friendship was born! Earlier this year, Dee told me about her plan to have an amazing multicultural celebration of Reading; I remember her saying “We’re all here, together, all of us, people from all over the world, and I think that’s something we should get together to celebrate”.

The event she had in mind is called LOVE READING, or, rather…


It’s on next Saturday, 4th August 2018, from 11am TO 5pm
The address is: Battle Primary Academy, Cranbury Road, Reading, RG30 2TD
Ticket price is £1 for Adults and £0.50 for under-16s

I’m really hoping to see some of you there; I’m bringing my knitting and some records, and am hoping to play some tunes as part of my aspiring dream to be a DJ. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you more about Dee and ❤ Reading, so we did a short Q&A together.

Q: What inspired you to set up ❤ Reading?

A: I moved to Reading nearly three years ago from London and just love being here. I have met and made friends will some truly wonderful human beings. I love the diversity of it and thought that it ought to be celebrated with some of our food, fashion and music. It will be a fun family day. More than this though and, beyond Reading, I think that our world needs more love shared. There is just so much going wrong, especially with divides and intolerance… although I do not think that people should merely be tolerated! I think that we should all embrace each other with all our differences and similarities and just make this world a better place. You see, I too have a dream, to change the world one place at a time. I want Love Reading to be a huge annual success so that someone somewhere else, possibly in another country – who is equally as passionate about love and cohesiveness – will emulate it and, together, one city at a time, that dream will be realised.

Q: ❤ Reading is very much focused on food and there will be food stalls representing different, regional cuisines. Could you say a bit about what food and sharing food mean to you?

A: I love food, I love cooking. I have been known to pick a country at random and go on YouTube to research their cuisine and then attempt to make it. Food, just like love, is what brings us growth and sustains us. Sharing food is just like sharing love. It feeds us both physically and emotionally and brings people together.

Q: Who’s going to have stalls at ❤ Reading?

A: There will be food stalls from JB Catering (Caribbean Food); Maame Sika (African Food); Time 4 a Drink (Teas, Coffees, Cookies, Cakes); and Lubna (South Asian Food). There’ll also be Henna and Nail-Painting from Salma; an art stall from local artist Joe; Reading Young Labour; Alyssa selling her own range of ChooseLove clothing; and music from Ma Bessie and Real O’Rael.

Q: The posters say this event is put on by The Children and Women’s Trust, could you explain a bit about this organisation and your involvement in it?

A: The Children and Women’s Trust is a local organisation, new to Reading. The aims and objectives are to advancement of education, relief of poverty and promote good health.

We prepare food parcels for Reading’s homeless in the Town Centre and last year I was nominated for a Pride of Reading Award. Our previous projects included running parent and toddler sessions, and exercise and healthy eating workshops in London.

The next project for the CWT is to raise awareness of mental health, especially in the BAME community.

I am one of the Founders and Project Coordinator for the organisation.

Afterword: If any of you would like to have a stall, or volunteer at ❤ Reading, please get in touch with Dee at THECWT.PC (@) GMAIL.COM; otherwise please just come along. If you can’t come, please share this post on social media to help get the word out! Exactly like Dee says, there is a lot of divisiveness and intolerance in the world just now. Events which seek to heal divides, bring people together, and do so over the common language of food are things to get into, and to get behind. My friend Janine gave me a beautiful book while I was staying in the USA, called Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved and it feels fitting to quote from it here, in reference to the deeper message of ❤ Reading and Dee’s dream for finding shared humanity and commonality through food, fashion and music:

Food is about people, all people. It is the most democratic thing in the world, lower-case “d”, and affects all of us. All of us. It is the thing we, the entire world!, all have in common. Therefore it also has the power to inform us about where we come from, inform how we express and share ourselves, and ultimately has the power to bring us together with empathetic understanding.

In all times, but especially during uncertain ones, there is something so beautifully comforting about cooking a meal from start to finish. Peeling and slicing onions and watching them soften in hot butter might not be the answer to world peace, but it is nice to know that when I do just that I am one of millions around the world doing that exact thing at the exact same time. When we cook, we are in solidarity. There is power in that.

– Julia Turshen

See you next Saturday?
Yours in knitting, tunes and ❤ing Reading

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