Whitechapel Idea Store

They have some people with no idea at all!

Yesterday, Wednesday 11th November 2015 (Armistice Day), saw part of the ‘Art of Aging’ project at Whitechapel Idea Store carrying out an evening for the local elderly, one part of which was the Sundial Book Project doing their usual presentation and readings from their book ‘Tales by Eastenders’.

My roll with the Sundial Book Project on these functions is to set up the table display and seating so that when the rest of the team arrive everything is ready for them, and they just have to take their seats behind their appropriate name plates, and can get straight on with the presentation. As this function was supposed to start at 6.00pm, I arrived at 5.30 and completed the set-up.

Due to a breakdown in the line of communication, we were not going to be able to do our full presentation, which can take up to 2 hours, as we only have around 30 minutes allocated to us.

I was then assured three times by members of the Idea Store organising staff that we would be the first item on the agenda. Which clearly told us that we would start at 6.00

The rest of the team arrived, which comprised of Sarah Ainslie and two of our elderly and more fragile writers, Sally Flood and Dorothy Lloyd. We were all in place in time for the 6.00 start. As we were told that someone would have to come and introduce us, we sat and waited.

Members of the audience were asking me what the delay was, but I couldn’t answer them as I had no idea myself.

We all sat there, waiting in front of our audience, for this person. At around 6.35 we were told that the start was now at 7.00

So we all carried on waiting. And so did the audience.

You can imagine. By now I was starting to get angry at how we are all being messed around like this.

At around 6.55 the person we were waiting for arrived. She introduced herself to us as “Another Sally” and when shaking hands, told us how well she knew us all, telling me that she knew me from the book groups’ blog.

Her first action was to get Dorothy and myself to move out from behind the table, and she made us move to one side clear of the table. She then moved Sarah and Sally to the other side clear of the table, which resulted in Sally Flood, in her wheelchair, sitting out in the audience.

This ‘other Sally’ then removed all of the name plates we had positioned in front of each reader, and cleared the table, and then plonked her bag onto it.

At this point my patience went out of the window. Our team know that I have always been protective of our more vulnerable team members, and try to be very patient and flexible, but this woman just moves people about as though they were no more than bags left on chairs, and after all of the delays, She did more to agravate us in three minutes than anyone I have ever met. She had no consideration for the feelings of others what-so-ever. I had just had enough.

Luckily for everyone, Sarah, our Team Leader could see that I was about to blow my top, so she came over to calm me down. I ended out arranging for Sarah to carry out my introduction to the book, and the readings I was due to do on behalf of Barry who was absent, which allowed me to pack my bag and leave in disgust at the way we were treated by these people, before I said something ill advised.

I have heard that the rest of the team put on a good show, further information is on this link.

This is the second reading session we have had with Idea Stores. The first one, at Watney Market Idea Store, saw us do our full presentation, and it went well. It was a shame however that there were five of our team there on that day, and an audience of only 6.

One thing I know for sure. I will never be involved in any function or activity which is managed by Idea Stores in the future, and I recommend other groups do the same, until such time as they learn how to deal with people who come on a voluntary basis to support them in their activities.

Perhaps they should pull some books on how to treat people properly off of their shelves, and have a good long read.

NOTE: Since writing this article I have scanned the Idea Stores website, and there was not a mention of either the ‘Art of Aging’ project, or of the visit of the Sundial Book Project. There was also no mention of anything happening on their ‘What’s On’ activities diary. What is the good of arranging these activities if you don’t even mention it in your own web-site? A big difference to us.



  1. Pingback: READINGS IN WHITECHAPEL IDEA STORE A SUCCESS – EVENTUALLY | Sundial Book Project "Tales by Eastenders"

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