Meet Colin – No second night out

No Seond Night Out

No Seond Night Out

You know when you meet someone with a sparkle in their eye, well that’s Colin. Officially one of the nicest men I’ve met, as voted by me and within minutes of meeting him. I’m sure some of you will think I’m exaggarating so here goes….

Colin sells hats, not just any old hats but amazing top hats from a London milliner. I bought a lovely black floppy hat for my holiday for £20.

He was homeless, through No Second Night Out he’s now working on this market stall in Spitalfields. Starting off with 8 donated hats, he now has over 20. The money he makes helps to keep him off the streets and make a living.

‘The No Second Night Out (NSNO) was launched on 1 April 2011 as a pilot project aimed at ensuring those who find themselves sleeping rough in central London for the first time need not spend a second night on the streets.’

Photography by Amelia Karlsen

Photography by Amelia Karlsen

Another magazine have just had their 25th issue mad hatter tea party, I wonder where Sienna got her hat from.  We all love a bit of fancy dress so if you need a hat, you know where to go, and it’s much better than Topshop!

The Clothes Club hits Dalston rooftop – to raise money for Bootstrap Campus

We’ve been pretty busy the last few months, planning the 2nd Clothes Club event on Wednesday 4th September. It’s a chance to enjoy the last of the summer, hopefully, on the Dalston rooftop. We’ve been in touch with their team since last summer when we decided to first launch TCC, so it’s a pretty weird feeling that the event is suddenly upon us.

We’re supporting Bootstrap Campus who run programmes and workshops for disadvantaged kids in Hackney. Our first Clothes Club supported Hackney Pirates who also help kids in Hackney, with pioneering educational programmes (after school hours). The youth sector is definitely something we’re passionate about, so it’s great to be partnering with yet another great social enterprise in this space.

Bootstrap Campus are part a social enterprise, Bootstrap Company, who have been around since 1977. They help incubate 100s of early stage companies and believe ‘in the power of creativity and micro-enterprises’. By leveraging the creative enterprises that are part of the Bootstrap building community, they develop programs that focus on creative learning and career building, all done within the perfect space – the iconic Print House building, the WW2 bunker and sought after Dalston rooftop.

Their CEO Sara Turnbull is a ‘Chartered Environmentalist with experience in holistic sustainability, energy efficient retrofit and behaviour change’, she’s no doubt had a major impact on the company (and I’d love to interview her).

If you’re free on Wednesday evening pop by with 3 items of quality clothing to swap. You’ll get tokens in return which you can exchange for clothes and do your bit for the environment. There will be cocktails, live sketching of the event in action, and a famous DJ. But best of all for just £10 you’re not only getting new items, it also helps kids in Hackney (win:win).

Thanks for your support TheclothesClub_Poster_Sept4_final

Our young are ‘Abandoning Ambitions’ – could corporate partners help earlier on?

Ariel shot canary wharfThe Prince’s Trust have just released some alarming new research ‘Abandoned Ambitions’, supported by HSBC, which shows that 1 in 3 young people leaving school with poor grades believe they will “end up on benefits” and 1 in 5 young people claim they have “abandoned their ambitions” due to their poor qualifications.

They’re twice as likely as their peers to say that they “struggled to concentrate on schoolwork due to family problems” and that their “homelife was so stressful that they struggled to focus” . They are also significantly less likely to have had access to a computer, the internet or a quiet place to do their schoolwork at home.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, believes it’s more important than ever to invest in ‘vocational support and training for young people who are not academically successful’ and that government, employers and charities ‘must work together to get them into jobs’. Without this, thousands will struggle to compete, leaving them hopeless and jobless which causes a huge impact on the economy.

I’m doing a mentoring programme with Timebank at the moment and during our training session we met the Major of Tower Hamlets (who was about 16 as he was a young ambassador). Having a quiet place to do schoolwork or study was something that cropped up then too. Also the glaring disparity of the wealth in Canary Wharf versus some of the poorest areas in Tower Hamlets.

It made me think, why don’t corporate companies open up parts of their offices to school children struggling, in the evenings or weekends to do their school work or study. Surely this is paramount in PREVENTING the issue in the first place, rather than trying to help people to find jobs and build confidence AFTER they’ve got low grades.

A lot of effort has to go into un-doing damage to self confidence so why not help make things more accessible before it gets to that stage. Corporate partners surely have a role to play in society and giving something back. Are there programmes focusing on opening up their offices to these kids to study?

Mos Def being force-fed to raise awareness of plight of Guantanamo hunger strikers during Ramadan fast

This video is bloody horrible and hard to watch but that’s the point. It was made by the human rights group Reprieve, to try to urge Obama to scrap his government’s policy of force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan. They’re force fed twice a day and it takes up to 2hours typically to do. Brutal and a very good campaign.

Beabequ (blogger) reports that it’s ‘breaching the human rights of 130 detainees out of 166, who are reported to be on hunger strike. Over a half (86 out of the 166) detainees have now been cleared for release’.

They still remain in the Guantanamo due to the US Government putting a halt on any release efforts being made. So as a sign of protest ‘the detainees whose sentences have been lengthened for a number of years (some facing as long as 11 years in prison) without trial, are now seeking a way out by starving themselves to death’. They obviously see it as their only way out now.

Maybe Obama should test out being force feed #standfast

Leadership in 10 words – Terry Leahy

Telegraph photo

Telegraph phot0









Terry Leahy is now a start up entrepreneur, he was formerly CEO of wait for it….TESCO. Yes I said the dreaded word sorry. But there’s no denying that Mr leahy made a pretty impressive mark.

While he was CEO he concluded that Tesco should stop following a strategy of catch-up (chasing Marks & Spencer and Sainsburys) and start leading through market knowledge. This strength led to his success in devising and implementing the Tesco Clubcard loyalty programme and turning Tesco into a £2 billion profit company by 2005.

He feels ‘supermarkets are not the enemy of the high street‘? Well we can all have differing opinions about that but I’m sure we’ll agree that his leadership in 10 words are spot on and not the cut throat tone you may expect. I’ve nabbed the below from a great blog post by An Abundance summing them up.


As you may have gathered, this is fundamental to good leadership. If you don’t inspire trust, people  will probably still obey you but they may act reluctantly, half-heartedly and hesitantly.


Respect for others, integrity, perseverance, a clear sense of right and wrong — these values were drummed into me thanks to my Catholic upbringing.

In the rush to break down class barriers and end stifling traditions, such values were lost — and replaced by a sense that anything goes. Successful organisations, however, are underpinned by strong values. These govern how it behaves, what it sees as important, and what it does when faced with a problem — even down to what a shop assistant does when asked: ‘Where’s the ketchup?’

Tesco’s chief executive in Thailand — a fierce market — once cut our employees’ year-end bonus of an extra month’s pay. This grated with our values: I saw it as an unacceptable thing to do to people who were working flat-out to meet our goals. So we let the chief executive go.

Being true to a clear set of values — such as showing respect for others and rewarding people who do the right thing — enables trust and confidence to take root.


Without question, winning and retaining loyalty is the best objective any organisation can have. Every time anyone has a decision to make, they should ask themselves: ‘Will it make people more loyal to us or not?’

For a company to flourish, it has to form an attachment with you that is partly rational and partly emotional. Then you’ll instinctively return to shop at its store, invest in its stock and use its services.


I wouldn’t describe myself as naturally brave. Far from it: I’m both shy and cautious. I embark on a course of action only when I think I’m sure of the consequences and have assessed the risks.

But when I became chief executive, I had what I can only describe as a moment of clarity: I realised what our goals must be and wrote them down in the back of my diary as I waited for a flight.

First, I wanted us to overtake Marks & Spencer and become No 1 in the UK. Second, I wanted us to be as strong in non-food products — 3 per cent of the total back then — as we were in food. Third, I wanted to start a retailing services business — such as finance or telecommunications. And, finally, I wanted to have as much retail space overseas as we had in the UK.

At the time, my strategy was dismissed by many as naive.

The reality, however, is that  goals have to be bold and daring. They need to cause excitement and just a little fear.

And, yes, Tesco achieved them all.

5. ACT

Making a speech, winning an election, launching a policy paper — all that is one thing: turning honeyed words into reality is  quite another. Plans mean nothing if they’re not effectively enacted. After making a decision, you need to write down the sequence of events and actions required to turn it into a reality.

This sounds pedantic — but the danger is that if you don’t, there’ll be no common agreement about what needs to be done.


The challenge for any large organisation is not merely to create a sense of camaraderie but a framework in which each person can perform their roles as they best see fit.

That means encouraging initiative and making people take responsibility for their own actions.

This is a balanced organisation, in which everyone moves forward together, steered in the right direction.


A simple aim brings focus to what people do. A simple proposition is easy for people to understand.

Simple acts take less time to learn and less time to do and cost less.

Simple systems take less time to establish, are easy to change and are actually more satisfying for the people who work with them every day.

Indeed, simplicity is the knife that cuts through the tangled spaghetti of life’s problems.


Lean thinking doesn’t mean you want to sell less widgets; it’s a way of ensuring that fewer natural resources are used in their manufacture.

Take concentrated washing detergent. Traditional detergent is bulky and heavy, requires a  good deal of packaging and is expensive to transport — all of which eats into profits.

Concentrated washing detergent, by contrast, requires less packaging and therefore costs less to transport. It also allows clothes to be washed at lower temperatures, thus reducing energy consumption.

If everyone in the world switched to using it, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than four million tonnes — that is the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.


Day in, day out, competitors are trying to outwit you and win your business away from you.

It’s as if you’re a politician but fighting for election every day. The temptation, therefore, is to shy away from competition.

Equally tempting, should you have vanquished your opponent, is to become complacent.

Or you may neglect to keep an eye open for lesser rivals quietly creeping up behind you.

All these tendencies are not merely mistakes but wasted opportunities. Competition should be embraced.

Compete, don’t retreat.


If I have to choose which of my ten words is the most important, I’d say it’s ‘truth’. Seeking and speaking the truth is not only morally right but the bedrock of successful management.

Root out the truth about any problems — then don’t hide what you’ve learned. Find the truthful answer to the question: ‘What’s the purpose of this organisation?’

Not least, you must be true to yourself and those around you.

The best source of the truth is often those you serve: your customers. Listen and learn from them, heed their advice — and you stand a greater chance of success.

It’s that simple.

Generation generous – sharing through mentoring

generosityGeneration Generous is a about being a bit kinder, a bit more caring and captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset. It’s why I decided to do the On Purpose leadership programme this year, to explore social enterprise.

‘Everyone has transferable commodity-knowledge. Sharing your unique expertise and making introductions for someone creates a lasting legacy.’ Marsha Blackburn

One of the major benefits with On Purpose is the training we get every Friday and mentor and a coach. This is the most amount of personal development I’ve had my whole working career. Very generous. I’ve never had a mentor or coach, surely it’s mutually beneficial for employers (although it may cost them some money)?

The mentor I have is a good sounding board and check in. If you’re used to working in a larger team, it’s good to have this as a sanity check and to focus on the key areas and keep focussed.

I’ve also wanted to mentor for a while, to help someone starting out with my ‘transferable commodity knowledge’ and hopefully contacts that I’ve built up.

I applied to a Timebank project, called Engage, providing training to young people in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in London, yet across the water is Canary Wharf, one of the most affluent.  The programme aims to help them develop new skills which will hopefully lead to employment something we all take for granted. The girl I’m mentoring is 19 and the primary carer for her mum, she’s setting up a community upcycling project, right up my street and wants to go to university to study communications.

Isn’t that what our experience and networks are for, to share generously?

If anyone has any tips for mentoring please do leave a comment and let me know!


3 months into On Purpose…

I’ve been freelancing for 5 years or so now, so I’m very used to working to contract lengths and deadlines. In fact I love working to contracts. So why is On Purpose any different?

We do two six month placements, April-Sept 2013 and Oct-April 2014. I have moments when it feels like a ticking time bomb. We’re encouraged to do feedback sessions with our placement, to check how we’re doing and help build the relationship. Have you ever done a feedback session? I don’t think I ever had before and in my head it felt a bit uncomfortable but it was actually an amazing experience. Perhaps I’m lucky with my placement.

So back to the ticking time bomb. At the end of September I want to see the impact I’ve made, on projects I’m solely running. I’m very used to working in a team of people as an Account Director with creatives, planners, other account handlers to support. Now it’s just me. This is the most accountable I’ve ever been. Oh shit. I hope I do a good job. They’ve said I am, so it’s pressure I’m putting on myself. And that’s the point, challenging yourself outside your comfort zone and taking a leap.

So instead of a ticking time bomb, I’ll think of it as a leap off a cliff, into a lovely sea with a few waves. But I’ll be fine because I love swimming.


Action Aid blogger meet up – 4th June #actionaidmeetup

I’ve just been invited to my first blogger meet up by Action Aid. For old hands to this sort of thing it’s no big deal but I’m pretty excited.  If you have a blog and fancy coming you can register here.

They want us to come together to meet with fellow bloggers and tweeters to ‘discuss the importance of food, both in the world’s richest nations, where we can enjoy it in abundance, and in poorer countries, where finding each meal is the centre of existence for many’.

There are some great speakers on subjects as varied as how to cook food brilliantly, to what it’s like to live in a country where millions don’t have enough of it.

When:  4 June 2013

Where: The Crown Tavern, 43 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0EG

Time: 6pm – 8.30pm

Who are the speakers?

Fay Ripley – a British actress of Cold Feet fame will be talking about her passion for food, as well as her experience of visiting Tanzania – where millions of people go hungry every year – and where she also sponsors a child.

Joy Mghoi Mwakisambi – a young campaigner who is visiting from Kenya will speak about the major issues affecting the poorest people in her country, and how we can all add our voices to the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which is calling for G8 leaders to tackle the broken food system.

Rachel Beer – founder of the popular #NFPTweetup. An expert in putting on engaging events linking good causes with sympathetic online communities, she will look at the mutually beneficial relationship emerging between charities and bloggers.

What a great line up! Looking forward to meeting some like minded people and discussions about something which unites us all.

Pay it forward – the search to find the homeless man Ronald Davies

Chicago Redditors have managed to track down Ronald Davies, the homeless man who’s helping change perceptions about homeleness. Ronald featured in a video in 2012, as part of a series called Big Questions tackling challenging social issues like poverty and inmate rehabilitation. The video has recently re-emerged via Reddit and has since been watched 2million times, shared 117, 237 and has 67, 597 likes.

A Reddit user Gawker saw the video and made a plea to the community:

‘The guy doesn’t need money, he needs an opportunity. As a restaurant manager myself with a homeless shelter only a block away, I know my establishment has given plenty of people opportunities as a dishwasher and they’ve completely turned their lives around.

Sure, some of them turn out to be crackheads that disappear after the first paycheck, but that’s far and away the exception. Many of them have become model employees and even trainers for my staff. And besides, it’s not like you’re investing any significant amount of money on training or education if the guy doesn’t pan out.’


Foodbanks – an unlikely football club’s community programme doing good in Peckham


Millwall FC are ‘notorious for being the toughest and most violent set of football fans in England’. Seems scary. I don’t like football so this isn’t my opinion, just research from ‘The foodbankers‘. The concept for their blog is a a very topical idea (content about foodbanks in London), run by postgraduate journalism students at City University; Rachel Bayne, Tom Knowles, Charlotte Rettie and Henry Vane.

In 2009 there were 6 foodbanks feeding 400 people in the capital. Figures from the leading food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, reveal there are 325 foodbanks nationwide now feeding 340,000 (40 in the capital feeding 34,000). Foodbanks were set up to help those who were poorest in the community but they’re not to serve as an extra arm of the government, which it seems they now are.

Peckham foodbank’s co-ordinator Felicia Boshorin feels a change to benefits is the biggest reason for people suddenly needing to rely on food banks, the Foodbankers report. Often people have switched from Employment and Support Allowance to Jobseeker’s allowance, and will have up to four weeks when one set of benefits has stopped and money from the new allowance has yet to come through. They are unlikely to have any savings to get them through that period.

Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment as well as benefit changes are causing more and more people to come to foodbanks for help.

Millwall are an unlikely supporter of foodbanks with their reputation, however they’re THE only football club foodbank. Their supporters bring food items to matches and it’s then delivered to Peckham foodbank providing extra support amongst a cash strapped local authority. Well done Millwall!

Maybe more public mass scale events should start doing this, the O2 springs to mind.