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. This is the fifth 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.

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LOTI Heroes 2023

Ali Alzein

Bees & Refugees

You might be able to guess what Bees & Refugees do from the name, but we’ll fill you in any way. Founded by Syrian refugee Ali Alzein, Bees & Refugees provides a space for community building and therapeutic relief to fellow refugees by introducing them to beekeeping. Through their regular workshops, the organisation is able to support around 80 refugees and asylum seekers and 120 children per year. Plus, since Ali started Bees & Refugees in 2020, they’ve established 50 bee colonies across Greater London which has played a key role in boosting the native carpenter bee population (previously on the brink of extinction).


Jodie Cariss & Chance Marshall

Self Space

London’s lucky to have not one, but three outposts of the world’s first on-demand mental health service in the city, Self Space. Open seven days a week, from 7.30am until 9.30pm, you can head to either of these drop-in spots for in-person mental wellbeing support without a waiting list, an assessment process or any commitment. Self Space was founded by Jodie Cariss and Chance Marshall, who have over 15 years of therapy experience between them, who wanted to change people’s perspective of mental health support. The duo believes that therapy shouldn’t feel shameful or intimidating, but it also doesn’t need to be something you only turn to at a crisis point – it can be as much a part of your wellness routine as booking in a massage.


Charlie Rudkin-Wilson

Müll Club

With Müll Club, a refill shop and a plastic recycling hub in Brockley, Charlie Rudkin-Wilson is taking action against the scourge of single-use plastics. Part of the week the space functions as a refill store where people come and do packaging-free shopping, and for the other part it’s a place where people can bring their plastic waste for Charlie to shred, melt and mould into new household items soap dishes, coasters, combs, and candle holders. Each item has a unique pattern and they can also be shredded down and remade into something new, meaning the products are closed loop and never need to end up in landfill. Charlie even hosts recycling workshops so you can come in and see how the process works for yourselves.


Victoria Jenkins


Unhidden is a clothing brand created by Victoria Jenkins that specialises in stylish designs that are adaptive to the needs of Disabled people. Victoria is a garment technologist who became Disabled in her 20s and came up with the idea for Unhidden after, while in hospital, learning that a fellow patient had had trouble finding clothing that could adapt to her Disability, while still looking good. With Unhidden, Victoria has developed designs that help wheelchair users, people with reduced mobility, chemo/radiotherapy patients, people with cerebral palsy, people with a colostomy and more.


Tayshan Hayden-Smith


After turning to guerrilla gardening as a therapeutic outlet following the Grenfell Tower fire, Tayshan Hayden-Smith founded Grow2Know, a non-profit organisation that works to inspire and empower young people through horticulture. Grow2Know is all about making gardening  more inclusive and green spaces accessible, and showcasing the positive mental health benefits of being around nature. Grow2Know also highlighted the lack of green spaces available to the most deprived residents in one of the most unequal boroughs in the UK by showing The Green Gap, a 4.2 sq m concrete cube with a crack filled with wildflowers and the smallest ever show garden, at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. 


Dan Edelstyn & Hilary Powell


Artists and filmmakers Dan and Hilary are tackling both the climate and cost-of-living crises with their project POWER, which began with the pair spending 23 days last winter sleeping on their roof of their home on Lynmouth Road in Walthamstow to help raise money to bulk buy solar panels for the 35 homes on the road that wanted to be involved. The aim is to transform every viable building and street across the country into its own power station by installing renewable energy tech like solar panels and retrofitting insulation. As well as reducing carbon emissions and lowering energy costs for households, the project puts power back into the hands of local communities and uses grassroots collective action to demand change – specifically making renewable energy accessible immediately – on a national scale.


Yvette Williams MBE

Justice 4 Grenfell

A resident of North Kensington for over 30 years as well as an experienced leader in advocating for equality, diversity, community engagement and justice – she was head of Equality and Diversity for the Crown Prosecution Service in London for 14 years and has worked on campaigns for Stephen Lawrence and Frank Critchlow – Yvette Williams witnessed the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. Along with Judy Bolton, she co-founded Justice 4 Grenfell, an organisation that has campaigned for justice for the Grenfell victims and to hold those responsible for the failure to provide the residents with safe homes to account, making sure that Grenfell remains in the public consciousness so it can never happen again.


Just Shelter

Just Shelter was founded by a group of friends in Earlsfield in response to the refugee crisis and as a way to provide direct aid to asylum seekers in both the UK and Northern France. They regularly host community meals for local refugees, but they also make trips to Calais and Dunkirk to deliver essential items to refugees as well as ‘school’ sessions to displaced children at the local hotels. Since beginning their outreach programme, Just Shelter has made more than 35 humanitarian trips to Northern France and they continue to fundraise and create community spaces for local asylum seekers.


Louisa Robertson-Macleod


Plenty of zero-waste shops have popped up in the capital but they’re not ubiquitous enough to make packaging-free shopping an easy and convenient choice. That’s where Louisa Robertson-Macleod comes in. She founded DAUN, a refill delivery service where you shop online for the goods you want and she delivers them to your door, traversing the city via e-cargo bike, so you can still get waste-free groceries without the need to lug containers aorund or when you don’t live near a refill store. When you’re done, she collects the drawstring bags used to transport the products and reuses them for future deliveries, closing the packaging loop. Robertson-Macleod also priorities locally-sourced and British-grown goods but for anything that doesn’t come from within the UK, she works with zero-emission transport, like sail cargo ships, to import them.


Daniel Tristao

Crate to Plate

Crate to Plate is turning former shipping containers into farms capable of growing kilos and kilos of fresh leafy greens, all year round, using hydroponic and aeroponic farming technology. The urban farm company’s CEO Daniel Tristao explains that Crate to Plate aims to solve the long supply chains common for upwards of 70% of fresh produce in the UK. As Daniel puts it, this “leads to very short shelf lives, worse flavour and aroma profiles, whether it’s a lettuce head or a basil leaf, but also much lower nutritional value because these plants are losing nutrient density with pretty much each day after they’re cut from the root.” They’ve got four container farming sites in the city already and are planning a UK-wide expansion – expect to see Crate to Plate farms coming to another city near you.


Sister Supporter

Founded in Ealing in 2015, Sister Supporter is a volunteer-run, pro-choice organisation committed to ending the harassment of pregnant people outside abortion clinics. Thanks to the group’s successful campaigning, a buffer zone (the first-ever in the UK) was established around the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing where staff and visitors had faced harassment for over two decades. Since then, they campaigned  to help establish similar zones around clinics across the country, resulting in the passing of national buffer zone legislation in England and Wales this year, allowing residents of the two nations to access abortion services without intimidation. Now the focus is on extending that across the UK.


Barons Court Project

HomeLess Made

A social enterprise from the team at the Barons Court Project, HomeLess Made sells products made by artists experiencing homelessness, helping them to make money from their work as well as boosting their self-confidence and acting as a step towards a creative career. HomeLess Made sells cards, t-shirts, tote bags, badges and more and the profits from the sales of these are split 50/50 between the artists and the Barons Court Project, which is Hammersmith and Fulham’s only day centre that supports people on a low income, who are experiencing homelessness and/or vulnerable to mental health issues.


Sistah Space

Since 2015, Sistah Space has been providing support that meets the specific needs of African and Caribbean survivors of abuse. The charity was founded in response to the murder of Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter by Forde’s ex-partner (and her daughter’s father), with ‘Valerie’s Law’ (which advocates for mandatory cultural competency training for the UK police force and its related bodies) at the centre of its mission. Sistah Space exists to ensure that the police’s lack of knowledge (or that of other service providers) of the Black community’s colloquialisms, customs and/or languages doesn’t ever come in the way of protecting its women again.


Max Tobias


Max Tobias is one of the co-founders of The Dusty Knuckle, one of London’s best bakeries known for its doorstop sarnies, epic pizza nights and the milk float that kept North and East Londoners fed during lockdown. It’s also a purpose-driven business that’s working to change lives as well as feed people through a training and mentoring programme for at-risk youth. The bakery’s programme gives young people who are coming out of custody, attached to the justice system, involved in youth offending and support services, are care leavers or asylum seekers the chance to experience a thriving professional environment, learn the skills they need to progress into further employment and training, and establish a positive future for themselves. In 2022, 66% of their trainees, around ⅘ of whom came to the bakery directly from custody, ended up in either work training or volunteering elsewhere.


Emma Lundie

Forty Hall Vineyards

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.


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’. 16 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.


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. 


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.


Varun & Anisha Bhanot


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.


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.



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. 



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.



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 Check-in and Chat, where volunteers have weekly chats with anyone who signs up for the calls, and since the charity was founded in 2009, they’ve rescued over 900 tonnes of surplus food.


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 now expanded out into cutlery and drink coasters soon, so watch this space for what he makes next.


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.


Douglas McMaster


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.


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 teaching academy and workshops to train marginalised people and 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 run a monthly service making meals from surplus food and also do regular food deliveries for those in need too.


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.


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.


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 are vulnerable and isolated, have experienced homelessness or spent time in prison 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.


Love Not Landfill

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. The #LoveNotLandfill campaign, run by ReLondon, is hoping to address the issue by specifically appealing to 16 – 24 year olds with info on swapping clothes, buying second hand, and donating 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.


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 also wrote Transitional, a manifesto on gender, race, identity, sexuality and how society can change for the better, which was published in early 2023.


Ravneet Gill


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. 


Alice Moxley


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.


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. It sells 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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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 and fourth books, West Winds: History and hidden tales from Jamaica and East Winds: Recipes, history and tales from the hidden Caribbean have been two of the most talked about cookbook releases of the past two years.


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.


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 – around 45% 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 collection points at two hubs in the area. They support over 600 people a week and since the project was set up, they’ve saved almost 20,000kg of food going to waste, but with around 11 million people in the UK experiencing food insecurity, there is still more work to do. 


Alfonzo Sieveking

The Common Press

The Common Press came as a very welcome addition to the Shoreditch community, opening in 2021 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 Alfonzo Sieveking and provides a space for marginalised communities where they can create, connect, and thrive both personally and creatively.


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 30,000 women in their search for a job, with statistics showing that 95% of the women they work with feel more confident about succeeding in their next interview and 69% get a job.


Kimberley Coke


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 25 years they’ve been functioning, they’ve been able to raise a huge £12 million and as the head of the organisation’s communications, Kimberley Coke has helped raise £1.5 million in one year alone. 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.


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.


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 361 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 eight years and after running a programme in London in 2022, the organisation is now running multiple programmes running across different areas of the capital per year going forward. 


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”.


Anshu Ahuja & Renee Williams


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. Reusable packaging is the way forward and that’s what DabbaDrop, which specialises in curries delivered in metal tiffin boxes, is all about – it’s 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 salad 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.