Local Heroes, the people that have found innovative ways to help the less fortunate, whether that’s through helping the elderly with daily tasks or providing employment opportunities to refugees. We think these guys below are doing great things and we hope you enjoy reading their stories.

Clerkenwell Boy

Cook for Syria

For the past 5 years, Clerkernwell Boy has been eating his way around London (and the world) sharing amazing pics of all the food you wish you were eating. If you have even the slightest interest in restaurants (and being a LOTI reader we know you do), chances are you’ve been following him for a long time already. While for some, being one of London’s top social media stars would be more than enough, Clerkernwell Boy is not one to rest on his laurels and in 2016 he founded #CookForSyria along with Serena Guen of Suitcase Magazine.

#CookForSyria first started as a simple supper club, where a group of foodie friends came together to celebrate Syrian cuisine and raise money to help Unicef protect Syrian children. Now it’s a global movement with two best-selling cookbooks, an Observer Food Monthly Award and supperclubs and events continuing to take place around the world, with the help of the world’s top chefs, restaurants and volunteers. The campaign has so far raised over £700,000 to help UNICEF’s vital work in Syria, an amazing achievement that’s been down to the hard work and dedication of one of our favouite Londoners. We’re looking forward to seeing what he does next.


Photo Credit : Claridge’s Magazine 

Alex Head

Social Pantry

Social Pantry is an events and catering company that’s worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, H&M, Adidas, Harvey Nichols, Rihanna and Gigi Hadid. Food-wise, there’s a focus on fresh, seasonal grub and root-to-stem cookery and in terms of personnel, over 10% of the workforce are ex-offenders. Alex goes into London prisons herself and recruits behind bars ahead of, as well as on, release. Offering opportunity and supporting these employees has and will continue to change lives. She recruits through Novus and charities such as Switchback and Key4Life who are all doing great work too. Commenting on the scheme Alex says: “I’m so proud to employ ex-offenders as they are ambitious, hardworking, trusted and talented and are a great addition to the team.”


Paul Unsworth


Paul Unsworth is the founder of Kahaila. As well as running two cafes, which play host to community events, and operating as a new expression church, Kahaila, has also set up charity initiatives that, amongst other things, help homeless people transition into employment and provide a safe space for women who have suffered sexual exploitation. Kahaila is a mix of two Hebrew words that means life in community. In the first 18 months, Paul started three significant projects: Luminary Bakery, a bakery that creates training, community and employment opportunities for women coming out of vulnerable situations; Ella’s Home, a safe house for survivors of human trafficking; and Essence, delivering educational life skills courses for women in prisons. More recently, at the invitation of the Corporation of the City of London, they have opened a new community cafe in Aldgate and have launched a new project called BREW, barista training course to support people who have experienced homelessness moving into employment.


Mursal Hedayat


The best way to learn a new language is to practice with a native speaker, but imagine if you could do that and have a positive impact at the same time? Chatterbox, which was founded by Mursal Hedayat, trains and employs refugees and people from marginalised groups to teach corporate language courses, meaning they are able to put their talent to good use whilst helping professionals and businesses improve their skills at the same time. The beauty of this solution is that it provides meaningful employment for refugees whilst plugging the language skills shortage in the UK. As Mursal explains: “I started Chatterbox because I was a bit fed up with the misperception of refugees as a threat or a burden. Like many other talented members of our community, my mum faced significant challenge finding work that made use of her ample talent. She used her language skills to become a language teacher here in the UK, so I pinched the idea from her and am using it to unleash this huge wealth of talent in the refugee community”.


Ivo Gormley

Good Gym

Combining regular exercise with community work? Good Gym, which was founded by Ivo Gormley in London in 2010, is the very definition of a win-win situation. Building on the idea that working out in a gym is a waste of energy when you could be putting that energy towards helping someone (and helping yourself at the same time) Good Gym has grown to not only have a presence across London but all over the UK too.

Once you sign up there are three types of run you might go on: 1) a solo run to help someone with a one-off task they can no longer do alone (think gardening or changing a light bulb); 2) a run to make a social visit to an elderly person that may be battling loneliness – over 1 million people aged over 65 admit to feeling lonely or isolated; and 3) a group run with a trainer to do physical tasks for community organisations, such as sorting cans for the food bank or planting trees in the park. An incredible idea that started with one person in London and is now influencing lives for the better all across the country. Hats off to Ivo.

Jess Thompson


Migrateful is a charity and social enterprise that supports asylum seekers, refugees and migrants struggling to access employment in the UK due to legal and linguistic barriers through a cooking school. Migrants teach cookery classes where they share their cuisine and culture with the public, and since Migrateful was founded in July 2017 by Jess Thompson, they have run thousands of classes and supported over 90 migrants. As well as offering a fun way to learn new cuisines from around the world, the social impact of integration and contact with other communities has a huge effect on how people view immigrants.


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