In this guest blog, our member Holly from Say it Loud Club shares the importance of promoting inclusivity at the intersection of two communities.

This week is Refugee Week. A week when the country comes together to celebrate the incredible contributions that refugees have made to UK culture; to recognise the hardships they have faced to do so, the resilience they have had to find. It is also Pride month, a time for similar celebrations and reflections of the LGBTQ+ community. As a community supporting LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, the falling of Refugee Week slap bang in the middle of Pride month is significant to us – LGBTQ+ refugees are where they belong, at the heart of the UK’s LGBTQ+ community.

Sadly, this is not the case most of the year round. It is increasingly difficult for people to be granted asylum in the UK on the grounds of sexuality, with decisions being made on the basis of appearance, religion, and circumstance rather than genuine need.123 Whilst there are some incredible LGBTQ+ individuals and organisations working tirelessly to support LGBTQ+ refugees, mainstream queer culture is inaccessible to many due to financial hardship and fear of discrimination. The same is true for refugee organisations; the support provided is excellent and much-needed, but often avoided by LGBTQ+ refugees who fear homo- or transphobia, or whose experiences are simply very different to other refugees.

Say It Loud Club aims to fill this gap, providing a space where people are understood and supported as both LGBTQ+ people and refugees, rather than just one or the other. Members of Say It Loud Club have access to individual mentoring, peer support, social events and workshops, but most importantly a community of people who understand them, who have gone through similar things, and who can share invaluable advice and encouragement. We also work with partner organisations to help our members find legal support, healthcare, counselling and therapy, housing, and employment in environments that respect and welcome every aspect of their identities and individualities.

“Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people, especially refugees, has transformed my life.”

“I can relate to who I am and not be ashamed of it anymore. I’ve become so confident and have been able to come out as a gay Muslim man.”

“I have learned that I am not alone, and I am safe, as I have my Say It Loud Club family behind me.”

Over lockdown, we have been focused primarily on reducing the isolation felt deeply by our community by running as many online events as possible – providing spaces for people to share skills and learn new creative practices as well as simply be together. This included a special ‘PRIDE: What’s it to me?’ discussion in partnership with Impact Hub King’s Cross. We also found that there was a huge need for emergency support to address lack of food and other essentials, unsafe housing and homelessness, and mental and physical health crises. While it has been an unimaginably tough year for us all, few have felt it more than communities like ours who are overlooked and under-served by the country’s structures of support. Now that we are able to look to the future again, we have been excited to plan and begin new projects: a Housing Project which is finding safe, permanent housing for LGBTQ+ refugees; an Ambassador Programme which provides a pathway to employment for members volunteering within Say It Loud Club.

 To find out more about our current work, you can visit our website, sayitloudclub.org, find us on Instagram @sayitloudclub, or email me on [email protected]. Of course, we are also incredibly grateful for donations, which can be made at sayitloudclub.org/donate. We are lucky as an organisation to be constantly growing, evolving, and able to offer increasingly more support to our members. We always welcome the opportunity to work with new people, so if you would like to volunteer, become a partner, or simply have a chat, please do get in touch!

 

Want to connect with inspiring organisations like Say it Loud Club? Find out more about our impact-driven community.

 

1 https://www.city.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2019/09/why-the-home-office-rejects-so-many-lgbtq-asylum-claims

2 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/02/home-office-refused-thousands-of-lgbt-asylum-claims-figures-reveal

3 https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/09/20/home-office-asylum-lgbt-religion-study-metropolitan-community-church-london/ 

For the second year running, we’re delighted to welcome a new Feeding the City Accelerate cohort!

Over the next 6 months, these ethical food & drink entrepreneurs will be supported to scale their business and impact.

Powered by Bank of America, Connect Fund, and the People’s Postcode Lottery, the programme will connect participants with thought leaders in food sustainability such as Sustain, large-scale buyers such as CH & CO, enterprise support providers, and investors. They will benefit from  business analysis, expert-led sessions, 1:1 and peer mentoring, and an Impact Hub King’s Cross membership.

 

Get to know the 8 businesses that are venturing on this journey of growth:

Equinox Kombucha

Equinox Kombucha is on a mission to disrupt the soft drinks market with the very best organic, sustainable kombucha. They mix old-school tradition with contemporary crafting to create a fermented, healthy, and naturally sparkling drink. Craft brewed, bottled, and delivered from the Calder Valley, in West Yorkshire, it’s packed with natural vitamins and good bacteria, perfect for a healthy gut and good digestion. Currently listed in Waitrose and the Coop, their kombucha is a lower sugar, healthier alternative to traditional soft drinks and mixers and for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle and focus on immunity. Managing Director Daniel Spayne and People and Sustainability lead Genevieve Boast will be engaging with the programme over the next 6 months.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Feast with Us

Founded by Hannah Style in 2015, Feast with Us has trained volunteers to cook nutritious meals with vulnerable people in various locations across London. Their unique community meal format by providing regular access to food alongside the opportunity to socialise and learn how to cook. This provides a sustainable long-term solution to food poverty prevention and a horizontal platform from which vulnerable people and volunteers can collaborate and learn from each other. FEAST sources surplus food from a range of local food suppliers and distributors, including City Harvest, Edible London and the Felix Project. During the pandemic, FEAST provided an essential food parcel delivery service and support hundreds of individuals with a 7-day service.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Local Greens

Jean Bergin is the co-founder of Local Greens, an ethical fruit and vegetable box scheme based in South-East London. They provide fresh produce that is grown by local farmers using ethical and environmental principles. Through the box scheme, small-scale producers are supported in earning a fair price, while their close proximity to the customer reduces travel emissions. Local Greens follows the Growing Communities model, which aims to improve the current food system.

Connect with them on social media:

 

One Planet Pizza

One Planet Pizza is the UK’s first plant-based frozen pizza company. Founded by father and son Mike and Joe Hill, One Planet is a purpose-driven pizza company, determined to make a difference one slice at a time. They believe that food should be delicious, healthy and sustainable, without compromise. Their pizzas are revolutionary: not only are they 100% plant-based and vegan-certified, they are also sustainable (and damn delicious!). They sell their pizzas in health stores and smaller retailers across the UK and mainland Europe and now want to enter the major retailers and new territories across the continent. They value purpose over profits throughout the business, working with charities and donating food, to planting trees for every 25 pizzas sold.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Pep and Lekker

Pep and Lekker sell moreish baked snacks bursting with goodness. Co-founded by Susan Gafsen and her sister in law, Juliette, they aim to combine nutrition and taste in equal measure by creating a range of snacks with 14 all-natural ingredients. The snacks are allergy-free and a source of protein, high in fibre, low in sugar, and palm oil-free. They are also approved by the vegan-friendly society and certified by Sugarwise. They want to make a positive difference to people’s health and also to the planet, aiming to be sustainable across the board: from ingredients to packaging selection.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Superfoodio

After a backpacking adventure around South America, husband and wife Jag and Nirali Mankodi were inspired to create delicious plant-based treats for pleasure, people and the planet. This led to them co-founding Superfoodio, which offers a range of plant-based chocolates made from 5 natural ingredients and wrapped in recyclable packaging. All their products are free from dairy, refined sugar, palm oil, and artificial flavours. To top it off, each bar gives back to their charity partner Oarsome Chance, who supports disadvantaged youth in the UK.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Sustenance Zero Waste Groceries

Sustenance Zero Waste Groceries provides locally, environmentally and socially friendly food, at affordable prices. Their highest-quality produce is ethically and sustainably sourced to make sure the earth, the suppliers, and their customers can live in an improved world. They achieve this by using cooperative wholesalers with responsible environmental policies in place and providing alternatives to harmful plastic products. Customers can fill (and refill) their own containers to buy zero waste products in small quantities or in bulk. Sustenance is founded by Katie Pitts, a mum and environmentalist (amongst many other things).

Connect with them on social media:

 

The Wonky Food Company

The Wonky Food Company makes great-tasting relishes from imperfect and surplus fruit and veg, helping to prevent perfectly edible produce from falling out of the human food chain. Co-founded by Ashley Cavers and her brother John, their mission is to tackle food waste while raising consumer awareness about the problem. They also aim to work directly with farmers where possible, ensuring they are paid a fair price for their outgrade produce and creating new routes to market. Their relishes are currently available on their website, in supermarkets (the midcounties Co-op and Ocado) and through independent retailers such as farm shops, delis and specialty food stores.

Connect with them on social media:

 

Want to find out more about business support at Impact Hub King’s Cross? Discover our current programmes.

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Our Managing Director Devi Clark highlights why it might be time to embrace imperfect action, and what the next steps are at Impact Hub King’s Cross to tackle climate change.

 

Action on the Climate Emergency

Like many others, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scale of the climate change challenge. Many of the solutions either feel too small (does not buying plastic really make much difference?) or too large (I am not an engineer building a new network of hydrogen power stations for transport). What can I do to make a real contribution? 

But overwhelm cannot be allowed to be a reason not to act.  

As the climate emergency becomes ever more real, we at Impact Hub King’s Cross are keen to raise our game and make a larger contribution to a sustainable future. We are ethically minded, activists, entrepreneurs and changemakers. Many of us are vegetarian or vegan, ride our bikes to work and buy eco-friendly products, but we still have a feeling that there is so much more we could do, if only we knew what. 

This is the warts and all story of how our team is finding their way – making a plan and putting it into action step by step, learning as we go. We hope to inspire others to take their own step out of overwhelm and into action, knowing that along the way we will learn and adapt. Imperfect action – but action, nonetheless. 

 

Catalysing entrepreneurial action…

As a community of social entrepreneurs, we want to involve our members in everything we do. We know that many of them have expertise in sustainability and we can support one another. No wonder, then, that our first substantial initiative has been to work with one of our members, Stav Friedman, to launch Environment Talks. This series of events operates on the same principle as Food Talks which has been running successfully for over six years. Current themes, expert speakers, an engaged audience and lots of learning, Environment Talks has already covered topics ranging from reversing over-consumption to storing your money ethically. 

Environment Talks is Impact Hub Kings Cross event series tackling climate change.

 

But how could we get innovation into the mix, helping people to take action and create new ideas to tackle key challenges? Impact Hub Global’s relationship with Climate KIC offered the perfect opportunity: in November, in partnership with Imperial College London, Terra Institute and Moonshot, we ran the London Climathon, a weekend-long hackathon that engaged 100+ participants and generated 12 innovative solutions.

Now, in the same way that running Food Talks in partnership with the Food Ethics CouncilSustain and Organico led to developing and delivering a range of sustainable food initiatives, such as our Feeding the City Start-Up and Accelerate programmes, we are actively designing and fundraising for a new programme that would support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to start up new climate-related businesses. 

 

Putting our own house in order

Supporting entrepreneurial solutions is what we do. But we are mindful that as we run our own building and operations, we need to practice what we preach. What is our own carbon footprint, and how do we reduce it? In particular, can we set an achievable target to become a net zero organisation (or even carbon negative)?

Before we can make a concrete plan to reduce our emissions, we need to know what the current levels are. There are a range of organisations that can help to measure an organisation’s carbon footprint. One of them is the Islington Sustainable Enterprise Partnership (ISEP), which we have joined, and which supports local organisations (businesses, schools, charities, etc) to become more sustainable. Another is the Carbon Trust, which offers this as a consultancy service. Impact Hubs in other countries are also looking at ways to benchmark their footprint and Impact Hub Leipzig shared with us a spreadsheet listing different types of emissions and allowing us to estimate our total use. Our next step is to choose which method to use and make it happen.

The other question is what year we should benchmark. Normally, we would pick the previous year – but 2020 was anything but normal. In fact, our premises have been closed for 8 of the past 12 months, with lower emissions as a result. Probably 2019 is a more realistic benchmark. We have committed to getting our benchmarking done by the end of March. 

 

Reducing our emissions

Once we know our starting point, we will need to devise a plan to reduce our emissions. Carbon offsets may be part of the plan, but only to the extent that we can’t prevent the emissions in the first place. 

We have learned that emissions are commonly divided into three categories:

We have started to list our suppliers with a view to understanding how to engage with the Scope 3 category. Daunted? Yes. We are finding, however, that some of the assessment questions for our BCorp re-certification due next month is helping us to work out what the important issues to measure really are.  

 

It’s a start

We’ve built these climate initiatives into our strategy and started to take action on business support, events and operations. However imperfect, it feels good to be in action. Next steps, to get our members more involved in telling us what is important to them, completing our benchmarking and engaging further with partners as we develop our programmes, all with a view to developing a clearer climate implementation plan.  We will keep you up to date in our next blog. 

If you would like to be involved, please contact our Community Manager Sally at [email protected], or drop me a message on our Community App

 

Devi Clark

Managing Director at Impact Hub King’s Cross

It’s December, a time for festivity, love and Christmas shopping!

This year, why not make your gift extra meaningful by supporting a social or environmental cause.

To make it easier for you, we’ve gathered a list of wonderful social enterprises from our community, including members, programme participants and partners. Find inspiring gifts for your friends and family. 

 

FOOD

Better Nature: gift cards for sustainable, protein-rich vegan tempeh

Luminary Bakery: baked goods supporting women from disadvantaged backgrounds

Organico: Organic Mediterranean food 

Refugee Cafe: International food supporting refugees in Lewisham

Taino: ‘Free from’ Caribbean condiments

Today Bread: Organic, artisan and sustainable products

Wild Thing Cardiff: Hampers and cakes supporting food security projects

 

DRINK

Fruits of the Forage: preserves & cordials made with heritage fruits from abandoned orchards & native wild plants

LemonAid and ChariTea: Organic and fair trade soft drinks

NEMI Teas: Ethical teas supporting refugees into employment

Second Shot Coffee: coffee supporting those affected by homelessness

The Well Bean Co: Plant-based eco-friendly chocolate

 

FASHION AND SELF-CARE

From Belo: Ethically sustainable designer handbags and accessories

Beauty186: Products for naturally textured hair, and bespoke personal hair product recommendations

CrazyCoolSexy: Upcycled bespoke fashion

Soil Products: handmade organic essential oils and fragrance blends, and 1:1 consultations

 

ACTIVITIES

BOM Pure Asian Food: Healthy and sustainable cooking classes

Migrateful: Cooking classes delivered by refugees and migrants

 

MIX

E5 Bakehouse: Organic bakery offering a range of local products, baking equipment and classes

The Do-Gooders: Eco-friendly and social impact products

 

 

We are so happy to welcome Samira Gomes to the Impact Hub Kings Cross family, as our new Programmes Manager. We sat down for a chat so that you can get to know her.

Where have you joined us from?

I’m joining from Stockholm, Sweden where I worked with diversity and representation in both the tech and communications sector to empower underserved communities.

 

What are you looking forward to about working with us?

I’m passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship and how it can be used for positive change and social development.

 

What do you love doing in your spare time?

I love to spend my time reading and travelling, exploring new cultures and meeting new people.

We are so happy to welcome Sam Harwood to the Impact Hub Kings Cross family, as our new Fundraising Assistant. We sat down for a chat so that you can get to know him.

Where have you joined us from?

Before joining the team at Impact Hub I was working for Aflatoun International, a Dutch NGO. As part of the fundraising team we supported the social and financial education programmes for disadvantaged children and young people across the world.

What are you looking forward to about working with us?

I am looking forward to supporting the unique programmes run by Impact Hub and engaging with the incredible group of social entrepreneurs we work with. Assisting these aspiring entrepreneurs to tackle genuine social challenges is hugely rewarding and I cannot wait to get started.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy playing football and meeting up with friends. In less turbulent times I loved to travel but have recently discovered a passion for hiking and a newfound appreciation for nature.

We are so happy to welcome Lydia Ratto to the Impact Hub Kings Cross family, as our new Communications Manager. We sat down for a chat so that you can get to know her.

Where have you joined us from?

Before this role I was a Communications Officer at the International School of Paris, in France, promoting the school’s activities and keeping the community digitally engaged. I have also worked in the fundraising and communications team at The Rhodes Trust (University of Oxford).

What are you looking forward to about working with us?

I am looking forward to meeting and supporting an inspiring network of social entrepreneurs and spreading the word of all the fantastic work that happens here.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

I enjoy painting people, getting lost in nature and moving to good music!

We loved coming together with one of our amazing members, the Say it Loud Club, for a very special ‘PRIDE: What’s it to me?’ discussion to celebrate Pride.

We came together with the Say It Loud Club community for an informal exploration into the true meaning of Pride (for LGBTQ+ people and beyond). By opening the floor to our communities, we held an honest and thought-provoking conversation about our individual experiences of pride, our journeys to self-celebration, and barriers to pride.

The discussion opened with a heartfelt welcome from Say It Loud Club founder Aloysius Ssali who described the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ communities around the world, and that “Working as a community we can bridge the gap so that we can help our people, give them a fair platform, so that they can achieve their dreams”. We then heard an overview of the history of Pride by Trustee Katie Mccallum, who asked the crowd what Pride means to them, see the beautiful responses below.

Our Community Coordinator Sally then opened a thought provoking question to all, asking: What are some of the things that can stop us from feeling proud, and how can we overcome them?”

Aloysius opened the floor with the statement that everyone should be able to live the lives they want to live, but that often it is hard as people are sometimes not accepted by families and communities. We heard from Say It Loud Club member Ruth, who described the difficulties faced in family acceptance, and that she has now “found my family through the Say It Loud Club”, and that she is happy with who she is, and breaking barriers to acceptance. We also heard from Ruth, who shared her personal experiences and barriers faced from her family and community as an LGBT+ person growing up in Africa, and how she has grown to love and accept who she is through the Say It Loud Club.

Our Community Coordinator Sally then opened the last question, asking: If you can go back in time and speak to your younger self, what advice would you give yourself? We heard from Tua Fese, who said that looking back, she would tell herself to ‘have confidence in yourself, be who you are, express yourself, and don’t be afraid’, and with Ruth saying ‘I would tell myself to not care about what other people think of you, just be proud’. We ended with a lovely note from Aloysius, who shared thanks to IH King’s Cross for hosting Say It Loud Club members in the Hub, where they can always feel safe and accepted.

A huge Thank you to the Say It Loud Club for coming together with us on this important conversation!

We are so glad to be back in the Hub with our amazing impact-driven community, after three-months at home. It’s been great to connect via our online events and weekly Hub Chat’s, but even better to see our friends back in person, albeit 2 meters away! We had a quick catch up with a few of our members to hear about how they feel about getting back to the Hub and their experiences.  

We had a quick chat with Jon from Ryedale, as with all our member organisations, they are maintaining a relaxed attitude to getting back to business as usual, but recognise the value of coworking, “Since we’ve been fine working from home, we are not applying pressure to have people return. It is clear though that the ability to meet and collaborate occasionally has been sorely missed..” – Jon Rushman, Ryedale 

Our impact-driven community of social enterprises and entrepreneurs is growing! If you’re seeking a fully safe workspace and dynamic community to plug into, with weekly events on a range of topics, from wellbeing to finance and business support, we’d love for you to join as a new member by 1st September for 50% off your first month membership fee, or 20% off an annual membership! 

Contact us at [email protected] to come in for a free trial day and check out our coworking or fixed desk options. Find out more about our fully COVID-Safe Hub here, and find out more about membership here.

 

We are so glad to welcome Sally Talal to the Impact Hub Kings Cross family as our new Community Coordinator. We caught up for a virtual chat so that you can get to know her.

Where have you joined us from?

My background is in English Literature and Psychology. Before joining Impact Hub Kings Cross, I participated in exhibitions as a fine artist and worked with TimePeace (creating social connections between locals, refugees & asylum seekers arriving in the UK).

What are you looking forward to about working with us?

I am excited to bring my passion for sustainability, creative arts, and social impact – contributing to a better world. I look forward to provoking change together and realizing the power we have if we collaboratively unite.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

I love painting, advancing my yoga and meditation practice, volunteering, teaching, and traveling.