Make a difference in your community with the Great Get Together

Emdad with Leyton Orient
The upcoming Great Get Together (TGGT) weekend from 22-24 June is a great opportunity to get your neighbours, friends, family, community groups or colleagues together and share a meal or a cup of tea.

TGGT is inspired by former MP Jo Cox who was killed on 16 June 2016. She was passionate about tackling loneliness and said ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.’ Jo used her platform to raise the profile of the hidden crisis of loneliness and TGGT is a celebration in honour of her, bringing communities together to celebrate what unites us all.

Tower Hamlets Council is encouraging residents to take part in the national campaign as an opportunity to involve those who might be vulnerable, lonely or isolated.

The council is offering 30 FREE party packs with essential items such as paper plates, cups, plastic cutlery, table cloths and napkins for residents and community groups that hold events. Hosts will need to register with TGGT and then apply for a party pack by Wednesday 13 June with items distributed on a first-come first-served basis.

Mayor John Biggs said: “Whether it’s having a cup of tea with your neighbour or hosting a picnic in a park, we are encouraging residents to come together with their local communities.

“TGGT is a great opportunity to reduce isolation in our communities and celebrate the differences that unite us all.”

TGGT is about making a difference in your local community and former Tower Hamlets’ resident Emdad Rahman is doing just that. Emdad is a council welfare advisor who has been volunteering for over 30 years.

From community gardening to refugee resources to running a soup kitchen, father of three Emdad even squeezes in time to volunteer over his lunch hour.

Emdad said: “I love volunteering because I’m making a difference, feel inspired and the feel good factor cannot be beaten.

I have volunteered from a very young age and enjoy participating and contributing to diverse causes.

To get involved, I started looking on noticeboards, newsletters and eventually the internet and volunteer fayres.

I am an avid park run enthusiast, volunteer for the Whitechapel Mission and have been running the British 10k for 11 years.

I coach youngsters, manage the Stepney FC veterans team and also run an over 50’s team. I am a football poet and deliver free writing workshops.  

I am a Dementia Friends champion and have trained thousands of people with the programme. I carry out voluntary elderly befriending roles, community gardening and homeless soup runs.

I recently returned from Ghana with my friends where we delivered a water well project, opened a school and delivered football coaching. We are going to Bangladesh in October to support the stricken Rohingya.

I regularly volunteer with Sister Christine Frost from Neighbours in Poplar and we take aid to Calais for refugees and those in need. We do a lot of community collaborative work together.

I also helped start a homeless soup kitchen which has two stations in Whitechapel and Stratford City.

We began the soup kitchen with a few friends putting in a fiver. We strongly felt that something needed to be done about our homeless situation and the government was not doing enough. We feed anywhere between 20-100 people during a shift. These are often very vulnerable people of all faiths and races.

Thanks to social media, the response to the soup kitchen has been immense. Donations in cash, food and volunteers are always welcome – people can contact me directly.”

There are all sorts of things, big or small, that you can do in your community to make someone feel less lonely and isolated and make them feel part of the community.

If you want to donate or volunteer, contact Emdad on Twitter @emdad07 or email

For other local volunteering options in Tower Hamlets visit:

You can also follow Emdad on his blog

For more information on TGGT visit: or find a local event near you.


The Tower Hamlets Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB) stated a commitment to taking action towards loneliness and public health commissioned research that provided valuable insight into people’s views, experiences and common themes. Tackling loneliness is also a priority in the council’s Ageing Well Strategy 2017-20 and Community Plan 2015-20.

Tower Hamlets Council and partners offer a range of services for people feeling lonely and isolated. There are also services and specialists that support those with mental health issues.

Posted on Thursday 7th June 2018