LOTI Heroes

LOTI Heroes is our way of recognising and honouring individuals, brands and businesses that are doing something positive for the city and the people that live here, whether it’s fighting plastic waste, breaking the cycle of homelessness, tackling food waste or advocating for diversity. After the year we’ve all had, we need to highlight the good more than ever. This is the fourth edition of LOTI Heroes, so there are some familiar faces amongst our Top 50 change-makers and pioneers as well as a whole host of fresh ones. As we celebrate this brilliant lot, their stories will hopefully inspire us all to do our bit to give back to the city we all call home.

PREVIOUS YEARS 2019 | 2020 | 2021

LOTI HEROES 2022


Dr Ronx Ikharia

Dr Ronx Ikharia is a trans and non-binary A&E doctor, TV presenter, mentor and activist. Dr Ronx studied medicine at Kings College – paying their own way through modelling, working in retail and dancing in music videos – and while there, realised that their story was unique and that, through sharing it, they could motivate and inspire young people from similar backgrounds. After graduating in 2011, Dr Ronx worked as an expedition field medic in India before returning to London to start their A&E career. Now, Dr Ronx dedicates their spare time to supporting and amplifying the voices of young people through inspirational talks and charity work.

@dr_ronx

Harsha L’Acqua

Saira Hospitality

After being inspired by her father’s philanthropic work with Mother Teresa and time spent working for international hotel brands, Harsha L’Acqua combined her dedication to philanthropy with her passion for luxury hospitality by founding Saira Hospitality. Saira establishes meaningful partnerships between hotels and the communities they reside in by running bespoke pop-up schools to empower locals to get employment in hospitality. Since its inception, Saira has had 316 students graduate through partnerships with the likes of Nobu Hotels, Hilton, Rosewood, Pan Pacific and Citizen M. Saira has run schools globally over the past seven years and in 2022, the organisation has run two programmes in London, with a minimum of three programmes running across different areas of the capital per year going forward. 

sairahospitality.com

Hugo Worsley

Allday Goods

Plastic waste is a huge issue across almost all areas of society but the hospitality industry is a particularly bad offender – despite recycling efforts, 74% of plastic waste from the sector is sent to landfill or incinerated. Hugo Worsley, who’s worked in restaurants himself, wanted to try and tackle the amount of plastic waste produced in hospitality whilst also addressing the sustainability, or lack thereof, of cheap knives. With Allday Goods, Hugo is creating high-quality, long-lasting and affordable knives that also help divert plastic waste from landfill by recycling it to make the handles. And he’s planning on expanding out into chopping boards, rolling pins, cutlery and drink coasters soon – watch this space.

alldaymfe.com

Ravneet Gill

Countertalk

Ravneet Gill is a pastry chef (most notably for St. JOHN, Llewelyn’s, Black Axe Mangal and Wild by Tart), author, presenter and founder of Countertalk. It started off as an Instagram account where Gill would highlight businesses within the hospitality industry that were doing great things and cultivating a positive work environment and has grown into a community-building platform. Through their events, job posting pages, advice and resources, Countertalk has become a much-needed support mechanism for the food industry. 

countertalk.co.uk

Joseph Galliano

Queer Britain

The Queer Britain charity was co-founded by former Gay Times editor Joseph Galliano in 2018 with the mission of establishing the UK’s first museum dedicated entirely to LGBTQ+ history. Four years later, the Queer Britain museum opened in King’s Cross as just that, and they had 12,000 people through the door within the first two months. The museum showcases and celebrates the diversity of Queer experience through exhibitions which have included Oscar Wilde’s prison door, a dress worn by drag queen Divine and a bust of Virginia Woolf, while telling an important history that has been neglected until now.

queerbritain.org.uk

Kimberley Coke

StreetSmart

Founded in 1998, StreetSmart is a charity that raises money for people experiencing homelessness and the vulnerable by adding a voluntary £1 to diners’ bills at participatory restaurants each November and December. In the 24 years they’ve been functioning, they’ve been able to raise a huge £11.2 million and in the past year alone, Kimberley Coke has helped raise £1.5 million as the head of the organisation’s communications. The funds then go towards investing in projects that tackle homelessness at its root causes, aiding with issues surrounding family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, poor mental health and the need for greater education and training.

streetsmart.org.uk

Emily Gussin & Sarah Smith

10 Miles Club

Friends and self-confessed feeders Emily and Sarah set up 10 Miles Club to showcase and celebrate local food producers and encourage sustainable practices. The pair run supper clubs where they source all the ingredients from within ten miles of the venue they’re cooking at, using suppliers like Stepney City Farm, Brixton Windmill, Growing Communities and Forty Hall Vineyard as well as produce that would otherwise have gone to waste. The seasonal, sustainable menus highlight the wealth of fantastic produce made right here in the capital and prove that with a little creativity it’s possible to eat local and eat very well indeed. 

10milesclub.com

Kate Stephens

Smart Works

Smart Works is a UK-based charity that provides unemployed women with the clothing, coaching and confidence they need to secure a job that could change the trajectory of their lives. It’s run by CEO Kate Stephens who keeps an eye on things here in London, while also managing their international work. Since Smart Works was founded in 2013, they’ve helped 20,000 women land a job, with statistics showing that 93% of the women they work with feel more confident about succeeding in their next interview, 97% feel more confident in their new outfit, 93% are more aware of their strengths and skills and 72% get a job.

smartworks.org.uk

Angie Curzi

The Common Press

The Common Press came as a very welcome addition to the Shoreditch community, opening last year in response to many queer and Black-owned businesses shutting down during the pandemic, and the lack of Queer-friendly spaces that don’t centre around alcohol. The intersectional bookshop and cafe (part of creative hub Glass House, which also includes bar and restaurant Common Counter, and events space The Commons) is managed by a team including Angie Curzi and provides a space for marginalised communities where they can create, connect, and thrive both personally and creatively.

glasshouse.london

Lucy Vincent

Food Behind Bars

Food Behind Bars is the UK’s first charity dedicated to transforming the food in prisons for the better. The organisation was founded by Lucy Vincent who was inspired to make a change to the system when she covered the topic as a freelance journalist in 2016. Since then, she’s been travelling the country to visit various prisons, spend time with the prisoners and staff, and do shifts in the kitchens. Now, with Food Behind Bars, Lucy works with men’s and women’s prisons across England and Wales to deliver a range of services to better the lives of prisoners, including menu development and redesign, industry-standard culinary training and food growing/kitchen gardens among many others.

foodbehindbars.co.uk

Razzak Mirjan

Beder FC

Beder FC is a football club that aims to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. It was started as part of an initiative by the mental health charity, Beder, which was founded in 2019 by Razzak Mirjan. When his younger brother, Beder, tragically and unexpectedly took his own life, Razzak set the organisation up with the vision of taking a unique approach to tackling issues surrounding mental health in his brother’s name. Beder FC is open to all and provides a ground to bring people together and raise money for the charity’s work in creating support and a better understanding of mental health, as well as fighting against stigma.

beder.org.uk

Riaz Phillips

Writer, photographer and founder of Tezeta Press, Riaz Phillips is responsible for opening up a wider conversation about representation and diversity in food media in this country. His first two self-published projects, Belly Full and Community Comfort, celebrate Caribbean food culture and black and ethnic minority cooking in the UK, and his third book, West Winds, featuring recipes and stories from Jamaica, has been one of the most talked about cookbook releases of the year.

@riazphillips

Anna Sebastian

Anna Sebastian knows the hospo industry inside out, having worked in Mayfair nightclubs, managed The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy and Artesian at The Langham, worked for a hard seltzer company and set up as an F&B consultant to help other brands and venues grow. She’s also the founder of Celebrate Her, which started as a one-off guest shift at Artesian and has since grown into a platform that’s all about promoting gender equality in hospitality by offering mentorship, education and financial support to women in the industry and showcasing their talents by partnering with brands and bars on events around the world.

@annasebastian3

Michelle Dornelly

The Community Food Hub

Michelle Dornelly set up the Community Food Hub in Hackney in April 2020 when she saw how people in her borough were struggling to access food during the pandemic, something that has only got worse with the cost-of-living crisis – 48% of the children in Hackney are living in poverty.  Michelle and her team, all volunteers, collect surplus food donations and provide packages to those in need, running drop offs to the most vulnerable and collection points at different hubs in the area, as they don’t have a permanent base of their own. They’ve supported over 100,000 people since the project was set up, but with 7.3 million adults in the UK going hungry, there is still more work to do. 

childrenwithvoices.org

Ella Shone

TOPUP TRUCK

TOPUP TRUCK is a zero-waste delivery service running from an old milk float in North and East London that was founded by Ella Shone in lockdown while she was on furlough. Ella wanted to make sustainable shopping easier – particularly for busy commuters who would struggle to make the trip to their nearest zero-waste shop. The literal green machine is stocked with over 180 products including tea, coffee, pulses, toiletries, household goods, oils, spices, and more, all free of packaging, so you just fill up whatever containers you like with your goods and pay for them.

topuptruck.com

Abi Ramanan

Papi's Pickles

Papi’s Pickles is a social enterprise that produces Sri Lankan and South Indian food cooked by women from these communities who have relocated to the UK due to conflict in their home regions. As well as the namesake pickles, they also cater events and weddings and run pop-ups across London. Abi Ramanan, who had been a campaigner at the Fairtrade Foundation, Oxfam GB and Sustain, founded the business (along with her mum Shanthini and aunt Radhika) after meeting a Sri Lankan Tamil human rights lawyer and learning about the needs of the women who had relocated to London from the conflict in Sri Lanka. All the women who train at Papi’s Pickles get a London Living Wage, transferable skills for employment and a safe support network.

papispickles.com

Patrick Dumas & Johnno Ransom

Square Mile Farms

After noticing all the untapped potential of rooftop space in London, Patrick and Johnno set up a farm on one in Paddington, with the idea of growing and supplying fresh produce to people working locally, and Square Mile Farms was born. The urban farming company now puts hydroponic vertical farms (that’s growing without soil) into offices, residential buildings and restaurants, to provide locals with fresh local produce, to connect people with the food that they eat through harvesting sessions, and to encourage conversations about sustainability, nutrition and mental wellbeing. 

squaremilefarms.com

Lady Lane Market

Lady Lane Market, which has run on Wentworth Street and now pops up in other locations across East London, is the first female-led market in the city. The market was created to provide a supportive and encouraging environment for women in an area that has typically been dominated by men – in Tower Hamlets roughly 90% of market traders are men, and many of the women who expressed interest in running a stall said they only felt confident in doing it with the support of other women. After an outreach programme led by the council as part of the regeneration programme for the Middlesex Street and Petticoat Lane Market area, there are now local women from places as diverse as Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Caribbean selling handmade crafts, produce, skincare, jewellery and gifts at the market. There’s even a spin-off foodie biz, Lady Lane Kitchen, where cooks from the market cater events and run pop-ups.

adylanemarket.co.uk

Aimée Felone & David Stevens

Round Table Books

Aimée Felone and David Stevens, co-founders of children’s publishing company Knights Of, where the aim is to commission writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds, initially created Round Table Books as a pop-up to celebrate the first anniversary of their publishing business. That week-long pop-up was such a success that the pair were able to take it permanent, and now Round Table Books in Brixton is stocked full of children’s literature with diverse characters (in terms of race, gender and disability) and inclusive stories.

roundtablebooks.co.uk

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.”

socialpantry.co.uk

Janet Oganah

Janet's List

Frustrated at the lack of visibility and support that independent brands run by black women and women of colour where getting in the UK (only 0.02% of venture capital funding goes to black women in business) but knowing that there were a lot of people who were purposeful about how they spent their money, former barrister Janet Oganah decided to connect the two by setting up Janet’s List. The platform features a curated selection of black and WOC-owned brands, spanning the lifestyle sector from haircare to jewellery to gifts, making it easy for people to discover them and shop from them.

janetslist.co.uk

Ali Namdari

Labo Mono

A designer by trade, Ali turned his hand to fashion after getting caught in the rain on a cycle home and then struggling to find a waterproof jacket that was cool and sustainably made as well as being functional. His brand Labo Mono, which is based in Hackney, now makes waterproof jackets using 30 recycled plastic bottles and an eco-friendly water-repellent covering. The jackets have all the technical bits you need for city life, including concealed pockets, breathable fabric, taped seams and pit zips as well as bold colourways and fun prints.

labomono.com

Alice Williams

Luminary Bakery

Luminary Bakery isn’t just our local bakery, but one of our favourites in all of London… and not just because they make some of the best cinnamon swirls we’ve ever had. The bakery, founded by Alice Williams, is a social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women from an economic and social disadvantage to build a future for themselves. Encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances, they use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship. Yes, by feasting on cake, traybakes and pastries you are supporting a good cause and they are now open 7 days a week in both Hackney and Camden.

luminarybakery.com

Celia Pool and Alec Mills

DAME

There’s a hell of a lot of plastic in tampons and pads – there are nine applicators for every kilometre of beach in the UK and one disposable pad can take up to 800 years to biodegrade. After realising how much plastic was involved in period products whilst working on another brand in the sector, Celia Pool co-founded DAME with the mission to create sustainable and reusable products that were easy for women to use. DAME has created D, the world’s first reusable tampon applicator, made from medical grade Mediprene. It works with all sizes of tampons and you just have to rinse it after use. By making the switch to D, one woman can save up to 12,000 disposable applicators from going into landfill.

wearedame.co

Anqa Collective

An offshoot from TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network), a social enterprise that provides business support to refugee entrepreneurs, including help accessing and building a network of customers, Anqa Collective is the first marketplace for refugee-led businesses in Europe, selling a range of products and experiences from refugee entrepreneurs, with everything from Nigerian chilli sauce and fairtrade coffee to handmade lingerie and beauty services available to shop. Refugees face social and financial disadvantages for a significant amount of time after their arrival here so supporting and shopping from their businesses has a huge impact.

anqacollective.org

Munroe Bergdorf

If you follow Munroe Bergdorf on Instagram, you’ll know how tirelessly she advocates for marginalised communities, using her platform to talk about and educate people on anti-racism, LGTBQ+ rights and feminism. As well as modelling for the likes of Illamasqua, Calvin Klein and Uniqlo, Bergdorf consults on diversity and inclusivity issues for brands, including sitting on the L’Oreal UK Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board (a significant appointment as the brand had dropped her from a campaign in 2017 after she spoke out about white supremacy and racism). She’s also writing Transitional, a manifesto on gender, race, identity, sexuality and how society can change for the better, which’ll be published in 2023.

@munroebergdorf

Mursal Hedayat

Chatterbox

The best way to learn a new language is to practice with a native speaker, but imagine if you could do that and change someone else’s life at the same time? Chatterbox, which was founded by Mursal Hedayat in London, trains and employs refugees to teach 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”.

chatterbox.io

Alice Moxley

Pivot

Founded by Alice Moxley during her time on postgraduate social innovation programme Year Here, Pivot is a social enterprise that fuses her love of creating and her technical knowledge with her passion for supporting the homeless. Working directly in homeless hostels, the organisation offers those experiencing homelessness a way to change their lives through designing, making and selling jewellery, and provides coaching and financial support to enable people to find meaningful employment and help them transition out of temporary accommodation.

madebypivot.com

Chloë Stewart

Nibs Etc

nibs etc. is about making delicious snacks from ingredients that would normally be thrown away, to fight food waste, and enable customers to reduce their carbon footprint. nibs etc. was launched as a food and photography blog in 2015, about upcycling leftovers and no waste recipes. Chloe then landed upon a brilliant food waste product – juice pulp – that she began to collect from juice bars to make into granola. From there business has blossomed, winning at the WeWork Creators Awards (twice), setting up at Borough Market where she now sells crackers, brownies and loaf cakes alongside the granola, and being stocked in a number of independent sustainable stores.

nibsetc.com

Douglas McMaster

SILO

As the founder of the zero-waste, closed-loop Silo in Hackney Wick, Douglas McMaster is the chef that’s probably done more than anyone else in the restaurant industry to tackle waste and bring widespread attention to the issues. His dedication has seen him carefully examine every fine detail waste production and Silo is the place where he’s been able to put his ideas into practice, and he’s been awarded a Green Michelin star for his efforts. He doesn’t even have bins in the restaurant and any food that isn’t consumed is fed into an aerobic digester which can create 60kg of compost in 24 hours. At Silo he makes everything from scratch from milling the flower to churning butter, reducing food miles and unnecessary processes. All deliveries to the restaurant come in reusable crates or other containers, completely eliminating packaging waste, and the furniture and fittings are all upcycled – when he realised that one of the final bits of waste they were still producing was the wine bottles from customer meals he started to grind them down and create plates for the restaurant. He’s even run a dinner series on invasive species, showing how things like Japanese knotweed can be put to use in the kitchen in an effort to manage their spread whilst reducing waste at the same time.

silolondon.com

Hannah Carter

#LoveNotLandfill

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, so overconsumption of clothes that are worn only a few times before being discarded is a big problem. Hannah Carter’s #LoveNotLandfill campaign is hoping to address the issue by specifically appealing to 16 – 24 year olds with info on swapping clothes, buying second hand and with clothing banks, sprayed by female street artist Bambi, placed around London to encourage younger fashionistas to think about the life of their clothes once they’re done with them. By putting used clothes in the clothing banks, consumers can ensure that wearable clothes are sold on to people who need them and that man-made fabrics especially (which take years to break down) stay out of landfill.

lovenotlandfill.org

Eliza Flanagan & Mary McLeod

KANKAN

The beauty and personal care industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to plastic, as a lot of products contain microplastics or come in single-use plastic packaging. Reusable and refillable products are a great solution to this but lugging around huge cartons of shampoo and soap isn’t always the most convenient thing. Eliza Flanagan and Mary McLeod have come up with a solution with KANKAN, vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil-free soap refills in cans that you can dispense into your reusable container of choice and then recycle with ease.

kankan.london

Simon Boyle

Brigade Bar + Kitchen

Brigade Bar + Kitchen, housed inside a Grade II-listed former fire station in London Bridge, serves up classic British grub and helps bring those who have experienced homelessness into the hospitality industry by offering training and career support. The restaurant is a partner of the Beyond Food Foundation, which runs the programmes for vulnerable adults, bringing good, fresh food into their lives and teaching cooking skills to help build confidence and establish a sense of purpose. The money you spend eating at Brigade goes straight back into working with more apprentices.

thebrigade.co.uk

FoodCycle

FoodCycle is a charity that turns surplus food into nutritious meals for low-income families, those affected by homelessness, and those who can’t afford to buy food, tackling food poverty, food waste and social isolation all at the same time. There are two food programmes; Community Meals, where volunteers collect surplus food, cook it and then sit down with the guests to eat; and Cook and Collect, where volunteers prepare meals for takeaway, and since the charity was founded in 2009, they’ve rescued over 900 tonnes of surplus food.

foodcycle.org.uk

Marie Carlisle

Goldfinger Factory

Based in the Trellick Tower in North Kensington, Goldfinger Factory is all about turning waste into gold. The social enterprise transforms surplus and reclaimed materials into quality sustainable furniture and runs a free teaching academy to train local low-income residents in craft and woodworking. The People’s Kitchen also provides free meals for the local community, fighting both social isolation and food poverty – they a monthly service making meals from surplus food and also do regular food deliveries for those in need too.

goldfinger.design

Mahira Kalim

Spruce

If every UK household switched to refillable cleaning products, over 300 million single-use plastic bottles would be prevented from polluting the environment in just one year. Spruce is here to make the switch easy with its reusable aluminium bottles and plastic-free, non-toxic cleaning refills – the refills come through the letterbox, you empty the sachet into the bottle, add water, and then you’re ready to clean. There’s no plastic waste, no water gets shipped and the refills are incredibly lightweight so the carbon footprint is minimal too. And with every order Spruce helps collect a kilo of ocean-bound plastic waste. That’s what we call cleaning.

@we.are.spruce

 

Meg Doherty

Fat Macy’s

Fat Macy’s is a social enterprise that helps young Londoners go from hostels to their own homes through food. By hosting supper clubs, catering events and food deliveries, Fat Macy’s trains participants in cookery skills, front of house service, food hygiene and financial planning, whilst allowing them to save for their future. Profits from the enterprise are invested into a housing deposit scheme for the trainees, so whilst they volunteer their time during the programme (with grants available to cover the cost of small items they need like clothes for interviews and ID documents), at the end they are able to apply for a housing deposit grant and transition into their own homes.

fatmacys.org

 

Steve Clarke & Bonita De Silva

Cafe Van Gogh

Cafe Van Gogh is a not-for-profit vegan café and community interest organisation in Brixton, with a mission to train adults and young people with learning disabilities so that they’re able to gain employment in the hospitality industry. It was founded by Steve in 2015 after he’d quit his 20 year career in supported living, where he’d worked with mental health, addiction and homelessness, and finally realised his ambition to open a community-facing cafe by taking over the cafe in the grounds of an old church on Brixton Road. With Bonita De Silva coming on board as co-owner and head chef the food has gone from strength to strength, and has also allowed the cafe to run cooking on a budget classes for young people in Lambeth.

cafevangogh.co.uk

Swiss

Black Pound Day

Set up by former So Solid Crew member Swiss in response to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, Black Pound Day is an initiative that’s all about tackling the systemic racism faced by Black-owned businesses (they are more likely to struggle with investment and have less access to capital than white-owned businesses). On the first Saturday of every month, people are encouraged to shop from Black-owned businesses and share their experiences on social media, which not only injects more money into the Black economy but also helps make these businesses and entrepreneurs more visible, ultimately creating long-term growth for the Black community. 

blackpoundday.uk

 

Tom Fletcher

Rejuce

Tom Fletcher turns fruit and veg destined for the bin into juices with his company Rejuce. He set up his production kitchen in Hackney Wick after researching for his dissertation on food waste and discovering that there was a huge edible food waste site just by the Olympic Stadium and deciding that he had to do something about it. Rejuce turns odd, ugly and wonky produce into cold-pressed juices, and as well as encouraging the farms and packaging plants they work with to reduce their waste, Rejuce has saved over 300 tonnes of fruit and veg from landfill.

rejuce.co.uk

William Pearson

Ocean Bottle

We as a society have an enormous plastic problem – around 8 million metric tonnes of plastic are thrown into the ocean every year, polluting the waters and destroying wildlife. Ocean Bottle is trying to stem that tide with its reusable bottles. As well as the bottles themselves containing upcycled ocean-bound plastic, for every one sold Ocean Bottle funds the collection of 11.4kgs of ocean-bound plastics (that’s the equivalent of 1000 plastic bottles). So not only does Ocean Bottle help you switch away from single-use plastic, it’s actively addressing the plastic that’s already polluting the environment too. 

oceanbottle.co

 

Breadwinners

Everyone loves a fresh baked loaf but the ones from Breadwinners are extra special because the company employs refugees and young people seeking asylum to sell and deliver it. Half of young refugees in this country struggle to find work and those seeking asylum cannot work until they are granted status, so it makes it difficult for them to find experience. Breadwinners tackles both of these problems through its three programmes; training young people as market stall assistants, providing first time employment for refugees with newly received status, and supporting refugees with existing experience in running the online delivery service. 

breadwinners.org.uk

 

Mette Lykke

Too Good to Go

Tackling food waste is a huge part of a sustainable future, and it’s an issue that can be tackled in many ways as our list of LOTI heroes shows. Restaurants are at the front line of food waste and unless you are someone like Doug McMaster at Silo, there’s a good chance that a lot of good food is being thrown out when it isn’t sold. Enter Too Good to Go an app that connects restaurants with customers who can purchase unsold, perfectly good restaurant dishes at a fraction of the price. Not only does it earn the restaurants a bit of extra money, customers get a bargain meal, and the end result has a positive impact on the planet. Now that’s a win-win-win situation.

toogoodtogo.co.uk

Varun Bhanot & Anisha Seith

UNHOUSED

The number of people sleeping rough in London accounts for almost a quarter of the entire homeless population of the UK, so it’s clear that more needs to be done to help. And that’s exactly what Varun and Anisha are doing with Unhoused.org, a non-profit online shop stocked with essentials and warm clothing (including the world’s first self-cleaning hoodie) where for every item you purchase, another of the same is delivered to someone homeless – so far they’ve distributed over 100,000 items of clothing and changed over 2000 lives. What we really love is that they also send a photo or video of the donation so the giver sees the final result of their “purchase” in action.

unhoused.org

Steven Dring and Richard Ballard

Growing Underground

We love what Steven and Richard have created down in Clapham – the UK’s first underground farm. Here they sustainably grow fresh micro greens and salad leaves 33 metres below the streets in disused WW2 tunnels, and supply top restaurants and supermarkets. Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, the crops are grown year-round in a perfect, pesticide-free environment, using 100% renewable energy use 70% less water than traditional farming. Thanks to a controlled environment, each tiny leaf has a consistent flavour and are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes. The prime location also means they reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.

growing-underground.com

Sophie Slater and Sarah Beckett

Birdsong

It’s estimated that 60 million women worldwide – aged 18-35 and working in the garment industry – make less than minimum wage. These women are making the clothes we see on the high street everyday, and are hidden in the fashion supply chain. London company Birdsong, founded by Sophie Slater and Sarah Beckett in 2014, is aiming to do things differently however – they work with skilled women makers in the UK that face barriers to employment, and pay them a fair wage. Sophie and Sarah offer an inspiring alternative model for how the fashion industry can work, a protest against the practices of the global chains and its abuses.

birdsong.london

Jess Thompson

Migrateful

Migrateful is a cookery and language school where asylum seekers, refugees and migrants struggling to access employment in the UK due to legal and linguistic barriers, teach their traditional cuisines to the public. Since Migrateful was founded in July 2017 by Jess Thompson, they have run hundreds of cookery classes with thousands of participants and now have chefs from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Turkey, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Gambia teaching their cuisines regularly. 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.

migrateful.org

Anshu Ahuja & Renee Williams

DabbaDrop

Plastic packaging from takeaway is one of the worst offenders for waste, and with our appetite for Deliveroo and Uber Eats, the problem is only going to get worse. As shown in other areas, reusable packaging is the way forward, and London start up DabbaDrop which specialises in curries delivered in metal tiffin boxes, could be the future of food delivery. This is curry with a conscience. Sign up for either weekly or fortnightly deliveries and you will be sent a regularly changing selection of veg curries, dal, rice and roti all made with fresh, quality ingredients. With your first delivery you’ll also get a reusable tiffin box for an extra £15 charge – each time you get a new delivery you just give back your old (clean!) tiffin box and keep swapping it out. So far DabbaDrop has saved over 200,000 plastic containers from being used and has avoided 2500kg of food waste.

dabbadrop.co.uk

Eliza Rebeiro

Lives not Knives

Founded by Eliza Rebeiro in 2007 when she was just 14, this campaign started as a simple t shirt she had made emblazoned with the words ‘Lives Not Knives’. 15 years later and the issue of knife crime in London is still prevalent, making the work of charities such as Eliza’s Lives Not Knives more important than ever. Having grown from that first t-shirt design LNK has since moved towards supporting young people into education, employment and training. LNK works with a broad range of young people up to the age of 24, as well as a great number of local businesses – forging the connection between young people and prospective employers. The charity aims to assist young people by developing their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals rather than falling into the traps of gangs and violent crime.

livesnotknives.org

Sarah Vaughan-Roberts

Forty Hall Vineyards

Founded by Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, Forty Hall is not only a great vineyard based in Enfield, north London, making some superb English wines, but also a social enterprise. As London’s only commercial-scale vineyard they put all their profits back into the project and local community to drive its ecotherapy programme. Centred around the idea that being outdoors and active is good for our mental health, Forty Hall provides volunteering opportunities in the vineyard to the local community, particularly those with mental health issues. All volunteers can benefit from the support and guidance of an eco-therapist who attends volunteering sessions and participants can work alone, in pairs, in small groups or in larger teams. Their aim is to improve mental and physical health through working outdoors in a green environment, being socially connected, and engaged with horticultural activity and the production of the wines.

fortyhallvineyard.com

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