Forest Hill is slowly coming to terms with the news that our much loved friend Stefania has died suddenly.
From helping to carry buggies on the stairs near where she used to sit in the station underpass to always giving a smile and a kind word to passers-by, Stefania brightened up our community. She was always so nice to everyone even though no-one could have judged her had she not been, and that is reflected in the large number of people that are mourning her loss. Stefania also leaves behind a son and a daughter who did not join her in the UK.
Many of us will have tried to help Stefania, as someone who was homeless, in our own way. But despite that, we are confronted with what seems - based on current information - to have been a needless, premature death.
Like many others we wanted to remember Stefania by making a donation so we have set up this page, with the support of Rev. Edd Stock from the Holy Trinity Church.
How donations will be used
We will provide evidence of the costs via an update before withdrawing any money, until which point it is held by Go Fund Me.
1. Up to £4000: To ensure that Stefania has a service as well as something special - like a floral tribute - from us as a community.* Updated 17th July: Rev Edd, with support from local Italian speakers, has been liaising with Stefania's family in Italy. As news of Stefania's death has spread in her family, they have come together and decided to repatriate Stefania so that she can be buried in Italy. As our most recent estimates were that we would be spending £3000+ on her cremation here, we have offered instead to put this towards repatriation costs to help her family fulfil their wishes despite their financial constraints. We will also be arranging to make sure there are flowers on behalf of the community at her funeral service in Italy when we know when this will be. Thanks to your donations, we were also able to hold an all faiths and none memorial service was held on Sat July 20th, at Sydenham School (see updates)
2. £4000+ As a community we want to make sure we do what we can to prevent this from happening again to another cherished neighbour and friend. We are hoping that after the above we will have enough funds left to establish a memorial fund that can be used to help a long-term Forest Hill resident like Stefania in the future to have a fresh start. We will liaise with local charities about the best way to do this. If we are not able to do this then donations will be given to a local homeless shelter used by Stefania. Go Fund Me will hold all money until then. Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved.
Love from Clare and Matt, Sunderland Road Forest Hill London SE23 x.
~ Photo credit: Martin Masai Andersen and Lowly ~
*This was edited on Sat 6th July to clarify that we will use funds to ensure that there is a memorial service at which we can remember Stefania, if no-one else is able to do this.
Edited 7th to add a bit more about us as per Go Fund Me requirements which we have been emailed and asked to add:
How we knew Stefani: We live just down the hill from where Stefani used to sit under the subway, and like so many people here we loved saying hello to her and stopping to chat. We never knew what best to do to help our friend beyond helping with requests for toileteries, food or a cigarette, and we were devastated to hear her life had been cut short. We wanted to do something to remember her so decided to set up this fundraiser.
Money donated via Go Fund Me will: be held by them. Money left over after the funeral director and venue for the memorial service have been paid deposited into an account in Clare's name with ethical bank Triodos, which will contain only money donated to this cause. I will be very happy to provide an up to date statement for this account on request. This is a temporary arrangement, and if a group decision is made to create a long term fund in Stefania's name rather than donating to an existing charity for example, then a community account will be set up.
Clare Lorraine Phipps: I am a disabled social activist and freelance researcher. I am the former Chair the Executive Committee of the England and Wales Green Party. I took the government to court over the ban on disabled people like me standing as an MP as a job share. My family first moved to Forest Hill before WW1 and ran a business which installed electricity in many of the homes here. Their loyalties are split between Crystal Palace and Millwall FC.
Matt Hawkins: Is a campaign and communications specialist. He was part of a team who won a Big Campaign Award for their viral election broadcast "The Not So Secret Life of Politicians", and shared the honour of being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace along with the rest of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). He is the Co-Founder of Compassion in Politics.
We got a civil partnership in the Isle of Man in 2017 and were both part of the team that helped changed the law, coming in this December, to allow mixed gender couples get a civil partnerships in the UK too. We have lived together with our 2 house rabbits in Forest Hill since 2013.
With thanks especially to the following for their support in sharing: - Rev. Edd Stock, Holy Trinity Church Forest Hill & Sydenham - SE23.life - Forest Hill Society