The We are Cally Community Plan

There’s a lot going on in the Cally, including through the council’s We are Cally project. We have been listening to the ideas local people have to make the area an even better place. Their ambitions have been captured in a set of agreed actions to be taken by local organisations, residents and the council in the We are Cally Community Plan.

We spoke to local resident Paul O’Brien about the Cally Traders Association and the Cally Plan. 

Hi Paul, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I’ve been baking since 1984 but I worked in retail before, including in Borough Market as the manager of a bakery. It was then that I decided to get my own bakery. 263 Caledonian Road had been a bakery for 40 years so already had all the equipment needed. It was December 2013 when me and my partner Gabriella opened Sunflower Bakery. James my father knew the area and had worked here years ago. He also had family that lived here so we had some connections here already. 

We love the area. The Cally is a very diverse place. There are some lovely people here from all backgrounds and ages. It’s a very residential area. It’s got a lot of potential. I have always said it is London’s best kept secret. 

What do you do? 

I bake all the bread in the shop. Gabriella makes all the food and cakes. We’re a great partnership – my dad helps out too and is known by many of the locals.  

We’re very community minded. We enjoy working alongside different groups such as Help on Your Door Step. We launched the Cally market a few years back. We always get involved in the Cally Festival supplying sandwiches to the volunteers and we have been involved in numerous events in Jean Stokes Community Centre. 

We have worked with Carlotta from Public Works, the architects who are renovating Jean Stokes Community Centre.  I’ve got involved in zoom meetings about developments. We’ve even made bread for those attending sessions and we have literature about the project available at the shop. 

How have you helped with developing the Cally Plan? 

We have set up Cally Traders Association. I am Co-chairman. Our aims include improving the road and changing people’s perceptions of how they see it. We want as many small businesses on board as possible and with the help of Michael Simmonds,  the Cally’s Local Economies Officer, this has started to happen. 

The past year has been hard, it’s true. It’s been tough with the lockdowns. But we diversified and started selling flour and delivered to isolated people in the local Cally area. We came under essential food suppliers so we could stay open. Our customer base is really supportive of us as a business. We worked with the Council, creating food parcels for those shielding. We donate to the food bank every Thursday. We’ve got some great reviews online, which we’re grateful for.  

We want to support local people. We’re seen as a local community centre/anchor, lots of people just drop in and have a coffee and a chat with others. There are a few issues in the area. But it’s got potential. We could do with a Car Park and maybe a bit more variety in the shops. Bit of a face lift and it will be perfect. It’s a great place. We enjoy being here.  Working with the council we’ve developed the Traders Association so we can raise the profile a bit more. 

Read the We are Cally Community Plan

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