Next up in our Local Heroes series, where we big up the people, small businesses and neighbourhood spots that make London great, is social enterprise Pivot, which offers those experiencing homelessness a way to change their lives through designing, making and selling jewellery. Working directly in homeless hostels, the business provides coaching and financial support to enable people to find meaningful employment and help them transition out of temporary accommodation.
Founded by Alice Moxley during her time on postgraduate social innovation programme Year Here, Pivot fuses her love of creating and her technical knowledge with her passion for supporting the homeless, having spent time working with organisations like Fat Macy’s, the YMCA and Crisis. “I have always had a passion for designing and making jewellery. I come from a family of architects and crafters and have been fascinated by the power of creating something from scratch. It involves creativity, dedication and precision. The feeling of completing a piece and seeing someone else wear it is truly gratifying”, says Alice. “I wanted to share this feeling with the people I was working with in the North London hostel and see if I could create a business that supports vulnerable people whilst also creating something beautiful that people wanted to buy.”
Homelessness is a huge issue in the UK and it’s one that growing; according to research from Shelter 280,000 are recorded as homeless in England, which is an increase of 23,000 since 2016. A business like Pivot offers an innovative, practical solution to the problem. Launching just before lockdown has meant that Pivot itself has had to be innovative too.
Although the jewellery production is done in a covid-safe way, meaning it can be made and sold under lockdown, the business pivoted from jewellery to making bookmarks that could be personalised with notes like ‘hug soon’ to be sent to loved ones during lockdown. As Alice says, “as an organisation we were proud to come up with a product that could spread love and kindness during the pandemic, whilst supporting our makers at the same time.”
These have been a huge success with over a thousand expected to be sold by the end of the year. For Pivot customer Emily Parkyn who sent one to her sister who was in lockdown 320 miles away, “sending her a hug in the post was a great way of letting her know we were thinking of her and she said it reminded her every time she opened her book. We both loved everything about Pivot and the fact that buying from you was supporting others and letting them know we were thinking of them too”.
It was the same for Sarah Coppin, “I bought this bookmark for my sister while she had Covid-19…She spent a short time in hospital because she was unable to breathe, and I was devastated that I was not allowed to visit her or even look after her at home…This bookmark was only a small gesture but it meant the world to both of us, because all I ever really wanted to do was give her a hug”.