Tag Archives: local heroes

#BrixtonFund – Local Group of the month: Young People Matter

Young People Matter (YPM) are a charity based in Stockwell Gardens. They create and run programs based around the needs of youth and the community. Aiming to provide a variety of different programs from after school clubs and summer camps to helping with employment and skills training.

In November 2015, YPM received £400 from the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Pound’s local micro-grants scheme. The Brixton Fund is funded by Brixton Bonus ticket sales (our monthly community lottery), sale of B£ merchandise in the Brixton Pound Shop, and a 1.5% business transaction fee on pay-by-text B£ payments. So – whenever you play to win B£1000, grab yourself a snazzy B£ T-shirt or simply do your weekly shop in B£s, you’re helping fund local groups like the Young People Matter.

We spoke with two members of YPM: Kemi, the group’s founder, who started YPM in 2007 through setting up and running a 4 week summer program for kids, and Marcus, who has been part of YPM from the beginning, first as a director and then stepping down to have a more hands on role.

Whilst I was at university studying psychology and sociology, I was doing some work with a youth club in Kingston, and later in Thornton Heath. At the time I used to put together booklets of things I wanted to do when I was older, for example activities for young people, basically things that where missing from what I was doing. But I had always wanted to wait till I was older to put on something myself.

However at the time there were a lot of things going on in my estate, five young people had been killed in the space of a week. And so it was like, do I wait or do I do something about it now. We applied for some money from the youth opportunity fund and found out two weeks before that we had got it. We had to rush around a bit to get it together but we had a really good turnout with about 50 people signing up for the first session. Eventually I decided to leave my job and pursue YPM full time as I saw there was a real need for something like this.


At the time in 2007 when YPM started a lot of gun violence was happening and it was still big in the news. We weren’t as desensitized to it then as we are now. We take it for granted even though we hear about it so much. But back then in 2007 it was still shock news. So Kemi applied for funding to do something with the kids on her estate because the kids just said: we don’t have anything to do. And from there it just grew.

More people heard about it, more programs came from it, and eventually it turned into this. With a premises on Stockwell Garden estate, seven full time employed staff, and moving on to maybe twenty staff when we are busier.


What we do has always depended on what the needs were within the community at the time. So when we first moved here we came to do a youth club and a drama program. From there, there were a lot of people who couldn’t speak English as their first language and wanted a homework club for their kids to support them. It started out as homework club, and then it developed into an after school club and to include different schools and areas. Another example – some girls who wanted to do a youth club for just females, and that’s how girls night and boys night developed. So it all comes from things people have said or what was needed.

All of our programs go hand in hand and help to service the other programs. For example our employment program helps to move people from long term unemployment to employment, but some of the barriers in the way of this were: if I do get a full time job, what do I do with my children?

So our after school clubs came about because there are working parents that wouldn’t be able to work without it, and it benefits the children themselves by providing them activities. Another example is the summer camps that we run. We had one and it was very successful, from there it spread from school to school and we are at four now. Everything we do just grows organically.

It’s hard to monetize it and grow when you do this kind of social work – it doesn’t work like that. The community tells us their needs and if it fits into our ethos, then we will work together. We have been going for nine years now, and even in a time when there are big budget cuts we are still here now and are grateful for that.


The Brixton Fund money is going to be used to offer young children free space and access to the after school club. For parents who don’t work, their children wouldn’t usually be able to access the after school club, so this allows for them to do so. Just because their parents don’t work it doesn’t mean their children don’t need to use it. Kids need to have something to do, and their parents might not be able to afford this for their kids normally. Parents themselves need some spare time and a break from childcare.

We have three different after school clubs however; I was thinking, what about the kids who I see after school with their parents that don’t get to attend the after clubs. They are kids that we might not to be able to engage with because they don’t get this opportunity. So I looked at the barriers to this and the possibility of funding to see how they could get the opportunity to do this. It was great to be successful in this funding application, its going to have a big impact.

Click here to support Young People Matter, or check out their website for more information.

Whenever you buy a Brixton Bonus ticket, spend electronic Brixton Pounds, or buy from the B£ Shop, you are contributing to the Brixton Fund which supports groups like Young People Matter. One more reason to get involved!

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.


#BrixtonBonus – Meet The Winner: Linda

The December Brixton Bonus was already our 6th draw, and a very special one at that – on Christmas Eve we drew the big winner and 15 runner-ups – so an extra ten people got brand new B£ merchandise as an early BriXmas present! (If you weren’t one of the lucky ones, fear not – we’ve got some left at the B£ Shop!)

Gabor Erdos

BriXmas Bonus runner-up winner Gabor entered the draw when he was buying his wife a Christmas present – and ended up winning a few more goodies!

Mark Picksley

This was the second time Mark has won a runner-up prize in the Bonus

But surely it was the person who scooped the Brixton Grand whose Xmas was gonna look particularly merry and bright…


The big winner this time was Linda Quinn, who happens to be the editor of the Brixton Blog and Bugle. We contacted Linda to let her know she’s won… only to hear that she’d like to donate the whole sum to the Brixton Fund! Talk about a BriXmas miracle (and amazing generosity)!

Many of our previous winners have been amazingly generous and donated large portions of their prizes to the likes of Brixton Soup Kitchen and Brixton Foodbank, but it was the first time in Brixton Bonus history that the winner has donated an entirety of their B£1,000 prize. Needless to say we are amazed, and immensely grateful!

Linda, who became Brixton Blog and Bugle’s editor in September, has lived in Brixton since 1975. She has a background in local and national journalism and PR, and what was of particular interest to us, she used to work at the Big Lottery Fund for 15 years! We took Linda out for lunch to thank her for her amazingly generous donation, and to talk about how Brixton Bonus differs from the National Lottery. Well, for starters, it’s the odds that are different! Linda told us:

“It used to be 14 million to one to win, but now it’s more like 60 million to one. And with Brixton Bonus? For this draw I bought ten tickets, which is the maximum monthly amount. I think I saw an ad on the Blog or in the Bugle, and decided to enter. When I first found out that I won, I thought I’d buy the Blog and Bugle office some new equipment, but then I decided not to. I knew about the Brixton Fund, and I decided I wanted my B£1,000 to help some small local community group – that will be a good use for it!”

During our lunch at Parissi we told Linda more about the community groups we already funded through the Brixton Fund: Brixton Youth Forum, Healthy Living Club (which you can read more about in our recent blog post!), Young People Matter, and AGT Social. She said it would be great to have more coverage about their activities on the Blog and in the Bugle – we’re hoping that it will indeed happen and those amazing groups get the exposure they deserve! We also chatted to Linda about the complex and diverse history of Brixton (did you know that the facade of the Eurolink Business Centre on Effra Road is a remnant of a synagogue that served Brixton’s Jewish population for most of the 20th century?) and discovered she was a big Bowie fan:

“I was amazed at the outpouring following Bowie’s passing – I have never seen anything like it happen for a pop star. He made art music, it transcended generations.”

Read more about all the Bonus winners to date in our Winners Gallery, and if you fancy joining their ranks – get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 29th January – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us – including the famous Bowie tenner.

#BrixtonFund – Local Group of the month: Healthy Living Club

The Healthy Living Club, set up by Simona Florio, is a dementia centered community currently operating at the Lingham Court care home in Stockwell. It is open to those in Lambeth with dementia and the residents of Lingham Court. Attendees can meet there to spend time with each other and enjoy the variety of activities that HLC help to make available.

In November 2015 the Healthy Living Club received £750 from the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Pound’s local micro-grants scheme. The Brixton Fund is funded by Brixton Bonus ticket sales (our monthly community lottery), sale of B£ merchandise in the Brixton Pound Shop, and a 1.5% business transaction fee on pay-by-text B£ payments. So – whenever you play to win B£1000, grab yourself a snazzy B£ T-shirt or simply do your weekly shop in B£s, you’re helping fund local groups like the Healthy Living Club.

This is Simona’s story.


“I moved to South London from Dalston because I wanted to be closer to work – so I guess the Healthy Living Club brought me here. But I actually first lived in Brixton many years ago when I was working at the Bartlett School, where I was responsible for their Erasmus programs. I loved it when was I living there, so it was nice being able to come back again.”

“I started the Healthy Living Club from scratch and got a job with the Alzheimer’s Society here at Lingham Court care home. They had the funding for three years and everyone assumed it would carry on, but actually when the funding ran out they really did close the program. Because it was announced at the last minute everyone was incredibly shocked and upset.”

“The volunteers and ourselves felt that we had to come to regard ourselves as friends with those who attended, and those who attended felt they didn’t have anywhere safe to meet. Once you get dementia it becomes very hard to go out to places that are not conventional like bars or cafes. So this was the only place they came all week and it’s the only time they saw anyone from outside. Everyone should have that basic right to a community life.”

“Despite the service closing and loss of funding we continued as if nothing happened. We turned up the next week and everyone was there, nobody was missing. Even though some were paid and were unsure if they would receive pay, nobody dropped off, even after a year. It was seven months before we even got our first grant!”

hlc 3 hlc 2People with dementia don’t like change, so our main aim is to keep activities the same. A typical day at the Wednesday club starts at 11am with an exercise class, which is very good for people with dementia as it slows down the protein that is the hallmark of dementia. We like to make sure it’s fun and that everyone in the group is involved. At 12:15pm we have a musical session – again, music is great for people with dementia, as music is stored in a different part of the brain. So whilst people forget a lot of other things, music is still there. Even people who have difficulty walking find they have the memory of how to dance in their bodies from the music.”

“Then at 1pm we will have lunch with soft food and finger foods for those that can’t use cutlery. After lunch we have various activities, for example musical bingo, games, art and crafts, drama, food tastings or talks from the National Gallery. The afternoon is meant to be more unstructured. Although we can’t have too many things going on at once, as it can be confusing for everyone.”

“We also offer activities on a Monday and a carers group meeting once a month. So as you can see, we put on a lot of events and the demand is there. The main problem for us is actually securing the funding to put them on.”

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“In the future we would like to take HLC to other care homes too. It is not the job of care homes to provide any activities or extra care for their residents. So we would like to provide this to those living there in addition to all these dementia patients from outside who don’t have anything going on. Providing activities is really quite cheap and there are all these premises we can use for free to do this.”

“When we first started, those attending had to pay £3 for their lunch, but it was impossible to collect the money when they didn’t have any, didn’t know where their money was, or didn’t know how much they had paid. It became really disruptive as some people weren’t eating or they were eating at different times so they missed out on activities.”

“It is also really important to be in a place where everyone is equal. If it is your home and you live here, and someone charges you for lunch on the day, it is weird that you are getting charged by someone for food in your own home. It makes you feel as if it isn’t your home. So what do you do?”

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“We decided to offer the lunches for free. However the costs of this all adds up to become expensive. The food comes from FareShare, one of our volunteers collects the food from them and doesn’t charge for travel expenses. But we still have to get other essentials such as oil, flour, some meat, and some refreshments for our Monday club. We also need to cover the costs of a chef because the food needs to be cooked by someone who can cater for the needs specific to everyone living and attending here.”

“Since providing these free lunches is a huge part of our cost and is something that funders don’t like to contribute to, I thought – why don’t we try make this more sustainable by getting another source of funding for it? We want to set up a scheme to recruit restaurants willing to donate some money each month towards paying for lunch at HLC. That is what the Brixton Fund is helping to support.”

Healthy Living Club club meets at Lingham Court, 10 Lingham Street, Stockwell, London SW9 9HF.

Wednesday Club (11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m)
Monday morning Breakfast Club (10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m)
Monthly carers’ group led by the Lambeth Carers’ Hub

If you’d like to support HLC’s work, click here for more information – or come by the Brixton Pound Shop (3 Atlantic Rd, SW9 8HX) and have a look at a brilliant table decorated by the members of the Healthy Living Club which is now being auctioned – all proceeds will be used to keep Healthy Living Club’s art project going.

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Contact Simona Florio for any questions
email simonaflorio.hlclc@gmail.com
Phone 07790 499317

Unit 506, Strata, 8 Walworth Road, London SE1 6EE

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.

#BrixtonFund – Local Group of the month: Afewee

Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit. We have recently finalised the first round of funding, so next year we will be telling you more about the groups we supported. But today, we’d like to introduce you to Afewee Training Academy – a local group who would be eligible for support from the Brixton Fund.

The Afewee Training Academy hosts football and boxing classes in the Brixton Recreation Centre, run by volunteers giving up their own time to run the academy. Originally started by Steadman Scott, a Brixton resident for 50 years, and fellow coach Tony Goldring. The team has since grown to include Peter Armstrong, Bobby Miltiadous and Laurie Cooper. B£ caught up with Steadman who told us a bit more about his story and founding Afewee.

“When I was released from prison in 1997 a friend of mine was working for Crystal Palace F. C. and asked me, “Do you want to come to one of the sessions?” I said yes because being a person with a criminal conviction I thought I wouldn’t be able to get a job – I had tried to get a job before I went prison and wasn’t very successful… But I wanted to see what these clubs were looking for, and at the same time use this opportunity to recreate myself, break away from my past. So I came to a session once, and ended up getting a part time job with Crystal Palace!”

“I realised since I got a good reputation working for Crystal Palace F. C. we should be able to rent a place at the Brixton Rec. And for the first two years me and my friend Tony paid out of our own pockets for it. During that time I was going to schools, working for Crystal Palace, and saying to the boys: we are doing extra football in Brixton Recreation Centre, you should come along. We continued to work with Crystal Palace until they were relegated.”

Steadman Scott

Steadman Scott – Co-Founder

The Afewee Football Academy has since gone on to work with likes of Fulham and Arsenal, providing members of the Academy with the opportunity to prove themselves at professional clubs – and a number of its players have go on to play professionally. Five of its alumni have played for Premiership sides, and one – Nathaniel Clyne – plays for England. In addition, the Academy boasts 30 players in the professional game or in academies, including one in every league in the country and one in every London-based Premiership club.

Afewee’s Boxing Academy was started more recently, in 2014. It now offers 8 classes a week for both experienced and recreational members who are coached by Bobby and Laurie. Last month the club had its first boxer to compete for the club, Nyesco Okpako, who won against a boxer from Balham boxing club. Three more competitive boxers are signed up to compete this year.

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Bobby Miltiadous- Head Boxing Coach

Afewee is not just about sports, as Steadman explains: “It is about helping kids to realise their dreams. We are the ones that have to change our youngsters in the community. I don’t see no politician who would have the same kind of experience as us. You need people like us who know the other side of the road.”

“I say to the boys, I know they say to you fun comes first. But in Afewee, if you are going have fun, you won’t go to the top. If you want to be a winner, a star, you have to know passion, you have to love it. The fun is when you achieve your goal. And to learn about what you are passionate about, you have to work for it.”

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The Afewee team, starting from the left – Peter Armstrong, Steadman Scott, Tony Goldring, Bobby Miltiadous and Laurie Cooper

“Let’s get it right, fun means you are successful, and to be successful it means you have to work hard. The fun comes in when you go on the pitch and you are performing, and you see all the hard work you have put in. It’s because of the passion and the love they have for it that they go to the top.”

“Even if they don’t get in to the football or boxing, what they learn through Afewee is discipline, and how to be successful. They learn how to apply themselves when they find something they are passionate about, which can be applied anywhere in life, not just to boxing or football. So Afewee is a way of life. We are here to motivate and uplift our youngsters.”

“These kids have helped me change my life – they have given me a new start. Because I got a second chance, I’m going to use my drive to help these kids become successful. When I’m watching Liverpool play the last time against Southampton, I’m watching Clyne play. If you asked me 18 years ago, would you be sitting in your front room watching boys from your program play? I would say: rubbish! But now to get to see it, and think – bloody hell! You have a responsibility son, so use your past and your drive to help the youngsters in the community. So that’s what I do here.”

Afewee Football Academy

Afewee Football Academy

“The council are thinking of giving the private company GLL total control of the Recreation Centre. If they do that, GLL will be the sole decision-maker. If they are in charge, programs like ours will be in jeopardy. The council should make sure there is a place in here for the community and the unemployed. Afewee Academy should be involved in the Rec, we should have our own base in here to represent the interests of the community and our youngsters, keep their interests in these classes. We know what they need, and we have proven it by the work that our volunteers here have done. And those young people – they are the future.”

Head over to Afewees website for more information regarding the Academy and times for boxing and football sessions.

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.

The first round of Brixton Fund(ing) is complete!

We’re really pleased to wrap up the inaugural round of the Brixton Fund – the Brixton Pound’s micro-grants scheme for Brixton.

We had 18 applications to the Fund, demonstrating the need for funding for small grants for grassroots organisations in the area.

A shortlist of 7 projects was produced after initial scoring by our panel of 13 Brixtonites with strong and varied local knowledge.

Finally – the panel met to whittle 7 very strong projects down to a final four:

  • Brixton Youth Forum: £1000 – Training, workshops, advice, education & a democratic space for young people.
  • Healthy Living Club: £750 – Self-organised community replacing loneliness with belonging for those living with dementia
  • Young People Matter: £400 – Free after-school clubs in Stockwell and Brixton
  • AGT Social: £250 – Training young people in Loughborough Junction in IT and repairs

It was a really difficult process to reach the final decision – but with both successful and unsuccessful applicants we’re not just leaving it there – we’re using our contacts, shop space and networks of expertise to offer non-financial support also.

Look out for more info on the successful applicants over the next few months – and for round 2 of the Brixton Fund in spring 2016.

You can contribute to the Brixton Fund and boost its funding power! Simply by using B£ pay-by-text (1.5% of each transaction goes into the Fund), playing Brixton Bonus, or buying stuff in the B£ Shop. It’s never been easier to be a positive force in your local community!

And if you work for an organisation that would like to contribute to the Brixton Fund and strengthen Brixton’s grass roots – we’re only a phone call or an email away!

p.s. we’re hosting a beautiful table decorated by the members of the Healthy Living Club here in the Brixton Pound Shop. It’s up for auction – and all revenue goes towards supporting the club’s amazing work. So come down, have a look, and place your bids!


#Brixton Fund – Local Group of the Month: Hatch

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.

Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit.

Hatch is a free of charge program aimed at helping entrepreneurs aged 18-30 who are looking to start up or grow their own business. Hatch gives them crucial business support through a 12 week long incubator program. The next Hatch incubator scheme is due to start at the end of January 2016 – apply for the next round hereOr maybe you have invaluable info for young businesses? Become a Hatch mentor!

Lots of small businesses and start-ups crop up every year, but they often don’t have access to expert business knowledge or funding, and the need for both is very real – on average only about 20% new enterprises make it past 18 months.

To address this issue and provide early support and guidance, Dirk Bischof started the Hatch incubator program in 2014. It’s been very successful: 90% of the businesses leaving the incubator are still operational 6 months after program end.


B£ caught up with Dirk who told us more about what inspired him to start Hatch, how it works and what it’s already achieved. 

I knew how hard it is to start a business or social enterprise when you’re younger, having started my first business at 24. I knew that support is essential to get off to the right start. I was always fascinated with incubators and accelerators and the way they build an ecosystem of support around the entrepreneurs. I knew that this was what I wanted to provide to early stage entrepreneurs and their enterprises.”

“There wasn’t anything like this locally, and having been in Brixton for over 6 years we knew there was a demand for specialist and holistic support. After a 2-year pilot and my personal experience of going through an accelerator programme (at the Young Foundation), we had a great team together, a solid programme, and the financial backing to get started. We use the lean methodology so every Hatch program is an experiment: we try to improve, make mistakes, learn from them, and be useful to the amazing entrepreneurs we get to work with.”


So far over 40 different businesses have been through the incubator program, ranging from community organisations like Brixton Soup Kitchen to start-ups like Snact. Brixton Soup Kitchen provides food, hot meals, and information to the homeless in Brixton. They joined Hatch’s program to put together a business plan and get their organisation further. Snact are a local social enterprise developing creative solutions to food waste and food poverty, and this is what they said about their Hatch experience: 

Starting a business is fun and rewarding, but it’s also full of challenges, and for those we needed some help. The Hatch incubator came up as the right opportunity at the right time for us to work through some core business issues and get support from the One Planet Ventures team.”


Dirk agrees that there are lots of challenges when starting a business, and it’s not just at the very start that you need support: Starting a business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. That means we have to keep on building our support ecosystem to be effective for people coming to us with business ideas, to those that have tested it, and who go through Hatch, for our alumni. At the moment we need to ensure that we can deliver Hatch to the best of our abilities, delivering consistent quality, supporting not just the new entrepreneurs on the programme but be of service and use to those that have come through our doors already. We have now tested and piloted Hatch in four other countries in Europe, to learn how it could work elsewhere. We’d like to put Hatch into many more communities in London to support many more people to start their own businesses.”

“Hatch is currently looking for funding that would allow us to provide the early venture support needed to run more business experiments. Some of them will work out, all of them will provide learning opportunities for the individuals and the communities involved. Exciting times really!”


So how does Hatch work exactly? The incubator program is spread over 12 weeks and aims to help start-ups in a number of different ways. Dirk told B£ more about each stage:


The Hatch program consists of 20 workshops. Conducted by industry experts, they cover a range of subjects essential to start-ups.  Subjects include: building a business model canvas (BMC), financial modeling, how to get funding, professional storytelling, marketing, crowdfunding.


Hatch will match you with one or two mentors depending on your needs. These mentors generally work at established businesses and have specific knowledge and expertise of the areas you might need help with. Subjects include business development, financial modeling, sales and marketing, and other skills useful to start-ups.

Space Provision

Hatch can help you get access to office, workshop or retail space. We are working with local partners such as the Impact Hub Brixton, the Remakery, The Market Traders Association of Brixton, and many other organisations offering physical space.


Hatch helped raise £97,200 in grants last year alone, and offers a chance to win £500 on Pitch Day which concludes each 12-week incubator series.


Hatch gives the potential to open up new business links that may otherwise have not been available between local businesses and with mentors.

Hatch Ceremony 2015 (2)

The next Hatch incubator scheme is due to start at the end of January 2016 – apply for the next round hereOr maybe you have invaluable info for young businesses? Become a Hatch mentor!

Whenever you buy a Brixton Bonus ticket, you will be contributing to the Fund, which will then support groups like Hatch. One more reason to get involved!

#BrixtonBonus – Featured group of the month: Media Community Network Limited

Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit.

Media Community Network Limited, a charity that lets young people speak through film about the issues they face, is the sort of group that would be eligible to apply for funds. Click here to donate to MCNL.

According to founder Laverne Hunt, Media Community Network Limited gives a voice to those who would not otherwise be heard, attracting groups in schools or communities by the excitement of using film as a tool for learning. Using documentary film projects, they aim to engage young people of all types, helping them to explore matters that are of concern to them in a constructive way. Each project facilitates dialogue between peer groups who would be unlikely otherwise to talk openly to each other. The exposure generates an overall positive influence due to the shared nature of the film product – leading to increased self-esteem and improved ‘citizenship’ within a school or community and dispelling prejudices. Comedy adds humour and sets the tone of engagement for both the audience and participants. Valuable skills are acquired: communication, working as part of a team, carrying out research, executing instructions, understanding different people, cultures, viewpoints, making a difference in the community through personal contribution.

B£ caught up with Laverne to hear more about MCNL and the work they do.

“I set MCLN up 10 years ago. I have degrees in sociology and psychology & media, and after graduation completed a Raindance infamous Producer’s Course.  I was inspired by Steven Goodman’s articles on teaching youth media literacy and the ability to change challenged children’s lives through film  – so much so I flew to the EVC head office in New York and did his summer course for teachers. I had two small children at the time and if it wasn’t for the support of my parents none of this would have been possible. Films just bring people together by default. So I took up the challenge to trial this unique model using documentary and comedy – I set it up as a charity, put an ad in The Times, and it went from there…”

“In our programmes, young people contribute from the beginning. We want to empower, not objectify them, so we don’t want to use them as examples or film subjects – they are the filmmakers. We do encourage them to use comedy. Documentaries are so often very serious, and seem to only be directed at “documentary people”, they’re not exciting for people outside of that circle. We also don’t want to make films that are stacked against anyone, but rather ones that bring people together. They are usually short, researched films about issues that matter to the young people involved in the filmmaking.”

One of the films we did was with a special needs school in Kent. The school got in touch because they felt like their students were not represented enough in the community. We did a brilliant film with them called “Butt Out” about the smoking ban, where they were interviewing their teachers about smoking and health. But they also wanted to include this surreal sequence in which an alien is landing on school grounds, smoking a cigarette. So effectively there was a film within a film! It was really hard work for the participants, but everybody was useful in some way, there are so many things to do around the film – music, design… And they absolutely loved the final product and wanted to show it to everyone. And it’s not just them – NHS wanted to use the film in colleges. It’s really amazing to be able to show just how much you can learn from children, particularly those with special needs who might not be given as many opportunities as they deserve.”

Another film we did was with the Latin community on the Aylesbury Estate. We did a film about regeneration, but also a mini film inspired by Charlie Chaplin and his quote: “All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.” Another one was about peace and cohesion we did with Peckham youth. The best part of it all is to see how these experiences change the young people’s lives. If I was growing up in London now, I’d be scared and intimidated. And so much can be gained from digging around culture. We’ve had so many other ideas, but lacked funding to get them off the ground. We wanted to make a film with young Muslim men telling their stories, another one with deaf children about their lives and challenges, or a project on faith and identity in Tower Hamlets against the backdrop of the Olympics. It’s all different from the stuff you’d see on TV. And all of films we do are about a resolution of some kind.”

Helen Lederere and professor George

Helen Lederere and professor George

“The film we’re promoting right now is called “Cool To Be Kind”. It tackles low-level bullying in primary schools. There aren’t any bullying prevention or detection programs, so we want to look at that, but also change the culture in the classrooms. As an antidote to bullying, we want to actively promote five acts of kindness per day, all chosen by participants and achievable, and for which they get non-monetary rewards, like a school trip or plain clothes day. We hope it will help us explore issues of friendship and conflict, particularly between girls. We’re forging support from lots of people, including comedian Jo Brand, former Labour cabinet member Tessa Jowell, Prof. Rosalyn George, who researched bullying at Goldsmith’s university, as well as a Harvard medical sociologist Nicholas Christakis who believes that kindness is contagious. I’m meeting him in November to develop a toolkit to measure the outcomes of this project.”

Bullying V4 export smaller (1).mp4 from Laverne Hunt on Vimeo.

“The video of the experiences of the girls at Brunswick Primary School is available to watch online now, and I would like to use it as part of an awareness campaign in schools. Comedian Helen Lederere participated in the film for free, whilst Ninder Billing, Executive Producer at the BBC organised music and music editing for free too. The film is founded upon my original methodology and directed by Marshall Corwin (Award winning Panorama Director). It was partly inspired by Bernadette Russell’s book Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy and her project 366 Days of Kindness where she pledged to be kind to strangers every day for a year, as a response to the 2011 riots. If we’re successful this could be huge! We’re raising funds to turn it into an app to promote the five a day acts of kindness in other schools. But we need a solid prototype to get the kids excited about it. That’s our biggest challenge – to make it something interesting, something the kids will want to use. Part of the funds would go to focus groups for young people so we can get it right.”

“This project is important for MCNL, and could be a turning point for our credibility if all goes to plan. We are about local projects of national interest, but like so many small charities we suffer because infrastructure is weak as the charity is reliant on donations and volunteers, the big organisations take up all the resources while they could be brilliant mentors for small charities, particularly where there is synergy.”

“We have a big fundraising event coming up – so watch this space! – but even before that I’m trying to do as much fundraising as possible: I’m running a half marathon in October, and will be doing a fundraiser quiz at work. In my day job I am a secretary in an investment bank – I have two teenagers, and I was funding MCNL films myself, I needed a proper job. So I somehow manage to run the charity in my spare time – it’s a miracle. I grew up in Stockwell, but we live in Sydenham now. My daughters are 14 and 17. The older wants to be a human rights lawyer, and she’s already rocking the boat at school, always advocating for those who need support.”

MCNL is much more than just making films, what we do is about the human condition and human rights, and about integration and integrity. We’re not “film people” who treat people as subjects and don’t give anything back – we want to build communities of like-minded people, increase representation, have young people tell their own stories. The reason we’re using film is because it’s a way of seeing yourself in everyone and anyone.”

To support Media Community Network Limited, go to https://www.justgiving.com/Laverne-Hunt1/ or get in touch with Laverne via Laverne@mcnltd.org.

Whenever you buy a Brixton Bonus ticket, you will be contributing to the Fund, which will then support groups like Media Community Network Limited. One more reason to get involved!


#Brixton Fund – Local Group of the Month: Ebony Horse Club

Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit.

Ebony Horse Club, a youth club and community horse riding centre based in Brixton, is the sort of group that would be eligible to apply for funds.

Ebony Horse Club uses horses to improve the education, life skills and aspirations of young people growing up in some of the most disadvantaged communities in south London. They teach riding and horse care, take groups to outdoor events and on residential trips, and mentor children experiencing significant challenges in their everyday lives.

met up with Letty Porter, EHC’s Engagement and Funding Manager. Letty grew up in Lewisham near a riding school, but her interest in horses didn’t connect with her background in charity work until 2007: “One day I woke up to the news of a murder of a young man in Brixton. Later that day on my way to Brixton station, I happened to walk past a police cordon and realized it was where the tragedy had happened. The experience really stayed with me. I found out the young man was Nathan Foster and that he was a member of Ebony Horse Club – that’s how I first heard of it. I got in touch, said I had a horse grooming kit I hadn’t touched for years, and also that I had seven years’ experience in charity work and fundraising. Eventually I joined the small team as Campaign Officer and, save for a break to do a Master’s Degree in 2014, I’ve been at EHC ever since, working on engagement, fundraising, and social media.”

Ebony Horse Club started very small, it was first created on the Moorlands Estate in 1996 and initially had about six members. There are people who are now in college who started here when they were 8 years old! By 2010 we had 50 members, and launched a fundraising campaign to build the community riding centre. We raised £1.6 million and opened the current premises in October 2011.”


“Really, it’s a youth club with horses, not only a riding club. We teach horse riding and care, but also do all sorts of other activities for young people, like workshops and trips. The access to horses and riding teaches key life skills such as teamwork, commitment, respect, and empathy, and the contact with animals is very beneficial, particularly to young people on the autistic spectrum.”

“In terms of riding we have classes on all levels, and as sports equipment is expensive we try to provide everything that’s necessary, like boots and hats. For individual members, that is young people from the area who either sign up or are referred to us and attend weekly classes throughout the year, group lessons run evenings and weekends according to ability: usually beginner classes on Saturdays and intermediate ones on Sundays. Monday is a rest day for the horses, and between Tuesday and Friday we do a mix of member classes in the evenings and daytime classes for school groups.”

“We usually offer schools 6 week series of classes, and if the kids enjoy them they can sign up as members. Ebony Horse Club specialises in accommodating young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and welcomes those with special educational needs and some medical conditions. We are not a Riding for the Disabled centre, but we do have a specialist instructor who is RDA-qualified. The majority of those with special needs are fully integrated within our regular classes.”

“Young people find us through their schools – most of them primary schools as secondaries are less keen to let their students off during the day to do things. We also work with social services and Lambeth Council who can refer young people to us. But a lot find out about us through word of mouth, or simply passing by. We’ve got more of a profile and a stronger presence, especially compared to the time when the club didn’t have the current premises and was just tucked away in an office on the Loughborough Estate. And we are still in a place that feels very peaceful, not hectic like a lot of Brixton. It’s a blessing and a curse, meaning that probably even more people could know about us if we were located somewhere more visible, but it would be overwhelming, both in terms of interest and the feeling of the place. Where we are now, you can just walk in and feel safe.”

“At the moment there is a waiting list to become a member, and as a community organisation we prioritise membership for young people who live within Coldharbour and the Brixton area. The minimum age for riding is 8, and we accept new riders up until the age of 19. But because more support is needed for those with needs and from unsettled backgrounds, in the transition from school to college or employment, if you’re already a member you can ride with us till the age of 25. At the moment our oldest member is 21. We have a relatively low turnover so we get to know our young people really well. Many of those with special needs are actually in mainstream education, so their needs are often not met. And a lot come from difficult backgrounds and deal with problems such as parental drug and alcohol abuse and neglect. Many are dealing with bereavement, the loss of family or friends. Through the horse riding and other activities we really get to know them well, and can intervene when we notice problems, put support in place for them and their families. So it’s really not all about the horses.”

“Horses are a big part of Ebony Horse Club though! We’ve got nine of them: Zigzag, Rocky, Blue, Archie, Joe, Shaney, Beau, Buddy and Pedro. Two are ponies, and they all range in size from small to tall. That’s important to have a variety so that we can accommodate children of different ages and heights. It’s a difficult task to source the horses: we can’t have any young ones, they need to be mature enough – minimum 6-9, ideally 10 years old. They have to be reliable but also have a spark, to engage our more experienced riders. Zigzag is a rescue horse, and she’s acclimatised really well here. Blue is the tallest one. Pedro is our Shetland pony. The other pony, Archie, just started growing a winter coat – he’ll be twice his size soon! We’ve got a standard riding arena, and we treat riding seriously, it’s not so that the kids can simply sit on a horse… We want them to get something out of it, we expect them to commit and progress, prepare them to ride outdoors. Once they get advanced they can learn jumping, too. We organise residential camps, which for some are the only opportunity to go on holiday, and other trips – not all of them related to horse riding, like a recent one to the Sky Academy. If we see young people developing other interests, we nurture them. We talk to them about their aspirations. This year ten members of Ebony Horse Club will have accessed higher education through the Club. Recently, two young people have started their studies at Hadlow College, University of Greenwich. One is based in Greenwich and the other near Tonbridge. At Ebony Horse Club we also run workshops relevant to young people, like one about healthy relationships, where they can learn to respect and support each other, and be able to talk about things that are important to them that they don’t feel they can bring up in school, like sexuality, or dealing with misogyny. We have a new youth worker who is organising those and she is full of ideas, so we expect this aspect of EHC to develop.”


“Following the raising of funds for the community riding centre, I think we suffer from an unfair perception of being a rich charity, when in fact we’re not. We run an incredibly tight ship, but consistently raise less than our average annual cost of £360,000. We are a team of six staff members and 40 volunteers. The revenue from our very reduced fees doesn’t even cover 10% of our total budget. We offer classes at a rate of £7 for 30 minutes, while the commercial rate is £20, because we think it’s crucial that the classes are accessible to the young people in the local area. We waive fees for those who can’t afford even that reduced fee – we never turn anyone down. Currently we have 12 young people who have assisted places and we expect this to rise.”

“Any additional funding goes towards supporting young people. At the moment we don’t have means to develop, to take on new horses, and our waiting list is between 6-12 months. We need money to feed the horses, to buy riding equipment, to continue running volunteer programs and activities. We greatly appreciate donations – you can sponsor a particular horse if you like. Recently we got a call from a man whose wife loves Shetland ponies, and as a birthday treat he wanted to arrange for her to come round and pet our Shetland pony Pedro. People appreciate the contact with horses, it’s really calming.”

“Horse riding is not an activity that’s associated with Brixton, and many people don’t even think it’s possible here. And yet we see so many people come here and feel safe, nurtured. Many say this is a place where they belong, a refuge. This goes for the staff and volunteers too. We’re all family.”

To support Ebony Horse Club, donate here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/donate/makeDonationForCharityDisplay.action?charityId=1000730

Whenever you buy a Brixton Bonus ticket, you will be contributing to the Fund, which will then support groups like Ebony Horse Club. One more reason to get involved!

#Brixton Fund – Local Group of the Month: IRMO

Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit.


The Indoamerican Refugee Migrant Organisation (IRMO), based in Brixton, is the sort of group that would be eligible to apply for funds.

IRMO is a migrant-led organisation that has provided support to the Latin American community in London since 1985.

Its main aims are to combat poverty, to defend its community members’ human rights and to empower them to build a stable life in the UK.

B£ met up with Jeannine, IRMO’s Project Manager for Family Learning and Children’s Education. Before joining IRMO as a staff member Jeannine volunteered for 8 months for their women’s project, then called El Costurero (the sewing box), whose aim was to create an open and free space where people from different backgrounds could share their thoughts on issues that affect them such as maternity, domestic violence, female representation, as well as topics about community empowerment and the arts. El Costurero had a subtly feminist ethos and covered a range of activities, from Spanish language workshops on prejudice, sexism, and racism, to women’s history themed trips around London. Jeannine is Venezuelan and moved to the UK aged 5. After graduating with a BA in architecture and working in the conservation sector, she went travelling to Colombia and Ecuador, which made her want to be more involved in the Latin American community in London – and that’s why she joined IRMO.

“IRMO was set up 30 years ago by a group of Chileans, and at the time was predominantly a refugee organisation, particularly for people who were fleeing the Pinochet regime and other dictatorships in Latin America at the time. Today we still give support to refugees and asylum seekers, but there are less of them, and so our focus has shifted to migrants. The biggest migrant groups these days are Brazilians, and also Colombians and Ecuadorians. We have 6 members of staff and 90 volunteers. About 5,000 people use IRMO’s services every year – mostly latinos and latinas, but our doors are open to everyone. Our focus is to help people get out of poverty, to give them the skills they need to make their lives better. Their ideas are crucial for us – we give them as much lead on the projects as possible. We want to facilitate them to help themselves, rather than impose any solutions. It’s important that we too come from the community: many of our volunteers are Latin Americans, some are recent migrants themselves.


Latin American Youth Forum

Our advisers run drop-in services: immigration advice on Tuesdays, social welfare and housing advice (including taxes and benefits) on Thursdays, and employment rights advice on Fridays. We do have to charge a small fee, but we never turn people down – if someone can’t pay the full price we’ll ask for a smaller donation, and even if that’s too much, we find a way to fit them in – we never just say no. We also provide interpreting services and publish booklets in Spanish about employment rights and other issues relevant to the community.

IRMO Family Project at the Horniman Carival

IRMO Family Project at the Horniman Carival this year

Apart from that we run a number of projects. I work on the Family Project which is funded by BBC Children in Need. We give advice on schooling, housing, anything the families need. Accessing education in Lambeth, and in London in general, can be a long and complex process, and increasingly you need all sorts of documents, like a proof of nationality or a housing contract, which weren’t compulsory before. Lots of applications are rejected. There’s a shortage of places in schools, so children wait from 1-2 months minimum, and up to half a year, which is a really long time for a child to be out of school. A new extension of this project is bilingual support that we provide in 3 schools in Lambeth: we run a homework club, and help students and parents to communicate with the school.

IRMO Family Project on a trip to the Horniman gardens

IRMO Family Project on a trip to the Horniman gardens

We also run English classes for kids, organise creative stuff like a theatre club, and do trips around London, to show the kids around and to point parents in the direction of free things they can do with their children. There’s an additional layer of difficulty beyond the price of things though: a lot of parents work very anti-social hours (for instance as cleaners) so have very little quality time with their children. Housing is also a huge issue. Rent in London is very expensive, so even though a lot of families can pay, they don’t have enough to rent a two bedroom flat to themselves. They want to rent a room in a shared house, but many landlords won’t accept them, claiming they would be too crowded in one room – but often the reason is that it’s harder to evict tenants with children. So many people are forced to sublet or rent without a contract. If people are eligible for council housing, we help them apply, but realistically often all they can get is emergency housing. Many are caught in some bureaucratic catch 22 situation – in order to get certain benefits like housing benefit you have to have a record of employment of something like 6 months, so in the case of recent arrivals we often feel quite helpless. If you can’t afford a house, you aren’t entitled to benefits, and your child is not in school – what do you do? Nobody takes responsibility for these people. They contribute, they pay their taxes, but are treated badly. We’ve had increasing numbers of people turning to us for help. When this project started we used to accept everyone, and now we can only help people whose children aren’t currently in education, and even with that the waiting list is so long. A lot of the people we help came from Latin America to Spain 15-20 years ago, but because of the acute crisis in Spain right now are forced to move again. And it doesn’t look like that process is going to slow down anytime soon.


English For Work, adult English classes in progress

Another IRMO project is English For Work where we run English classes for adults. 50% of Latin American migrants in London (and there are approximately 120,000) work in low paid jobs, as cleaners or kitchen staff. Often their priority is to earn money, and they don’t have time or resources to learn the language, especially if they have children, which in turn makes it harder for them to get out of low-paid work. We provide free language and IT classes and also further job seeking support like CV advice or talks about workers rights from Spanish-speaking union representatives. People often don’t know their rights, don’t know there is a minimum wage or sick pay, and employers take advantage of that. In October we are starting a new project focusing more on career development, access to conversion courses, and other ways in which people can develop their skills and find better jobs.


Staff, volunteers and management committee at IRMO away day

There’s also the women’s project: The Latin American Women’s Circle (El Circulo de Mujeres Latinoamericanas), which provides mentoring to women who aren’t at work, or find themselves in a rut, or in need of support, and helps them get to where they want to be in their lives. It’s also about them having a space: part of the program is organising group meetings which are led by the participating women, a peer support group where they can talk about their issues and struggles. They often tackle topics like gender roles and domestic violence, but the meetings are strictly confidential to ensure the safety of everyone participating. The women support each other, share news, and meet up outside of the project too. The best thing about IRMO is that it really brings people together and creates communities, which are truly empowered to take control of their lives. IRMO’s role is to connect them, but not spoon feed them – they organise themselves. And there is a word of mouth in the community about IRMO, people tell each other that it exists and is a hub and a support point, which is really great.

IRMO Family Project at work on their gardening project in collaboration with Angel Town RMO

IRMO Family Project at work on their gardening project in collaboration with Angel Town RMO

What’s next for IRMO? This year is IRMO’s 30th, which is very exciting! We’re planning a community event in November to celebrate. And in March we’ll host another event, more focused on other organisations and researchers. There isn’t enough research about Latin Americans in the UK. Standard equalities forms don’t include Latin identities, so no data or statistics can be taken away from that. Only in 2013 Latin Americans were included in the monitoring forms in Southwark and in 2014 in Lambeth. In 2011 there was a report called No Longer Invisible which estimated there were 120,000 latinos and latinas in London, most of them in Lambeth and Southwark, but that’s not nearly enough research. Latin Americans are invisible in the equalities statistics, but they often are also invisible in another sense – because so many of them work in the hours when most of us are asleep. We want to change that. We’re also going to be running a campaign around the mayoral elections, to get Latin Americans to register to vote. Already during the general election we promoted hustings and worked to get people more involved and interested in who is in power, who is representing them.

But to keep up with all that work, IRMO really needs some funding. Any amount of money would be useful, would help to fund more activities, but also simply pay for rent and bills. In February we organised a very successful fundraiser week, we raised over £6,000. Our rent went up loads, and it keeps going up; it’s happening everywhere in the area, like in the Brixton Arches, and it’s happening to us too.


Photography Workshop with Youth Project 

We could do so much more with extra funds. We could provide more funding for drop-ins, we could provide more childcare facilities so more people could use our services without worrying about their children, we could relaunch the youth project which we had to reduce dramatically. At the moment we have a bit of funding to run a one-off event for young people, which they are really doing themselves, they got a budget and are planing and organising it. But we’ve not got much for them beyond that, and with more funding we could have a separate project focused specifically on youth. If they don’t know English they can be the hardest age group. And we’d like them to have aspirations, dreams, perspectives.

IRMO Family Project at the Horniman Carnival this year

IRMO Family Project at the Horniman Carnival this year

We’re always looking for more volunteers, interpreters, translators, English teachers for adults and children (5-12 years old) – so if you could donate your time, please do get in touch with us.

We also really need laptops in good working conditions, bilingual Spanish/English and Portuguese/English dictionaries, arts & crafts materials, school equipment, good English reading books for children learning to read.

We would also be really grateful for any donations to the Family Project, to help us improve English classes for children, put on exciting extra curricular activities and fund exciting family trips that are otherwise unaffordable.”

If you’ve got a B£ account, you can donate to IRMO by texting ‘pay IRMO [amount]’ to the Brixton Pound payment number (07754832867).

Whenever you buy a Brixton Bonus ticket, you will be contributing to the Fund, which will then support groups like IRMO. One more reason to get involved!

Jeremy Deller designs new five Brixton Pound note

We are very happy and proud to announce that the artist Jeremy Deller has designed a special edition paper B£5 in celebration of the currency being five years old. His extraordinary design adds a significant and provocative message that reflects our intention to raise the conversation of how we understand, use and value money in this time of economic instability and what we could aspire to in the future.

Jeremy Deller won the Turner Prize in 2004 and was selected to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2013. This special edition B£5 is produced in collaboration with Fraser Muggeridge Studios.

As our own designer, Charlie Waterhouse says:

“These are the most amazing currency notes ever produced. No exaggeration. They’re beautiful and mysterious; spiritual and politicising. In two small sides of paper it provides the most compelling response to the rot that emanates from the Square Mile that I’ve seen since we were all told we had to live under the yoke of Austerity”.

“They’re living proof that while the Establishment can try all they might to take our money, they can’t take our spirit. The pounds Sterling in our pockets are monochrome, dull and in thrall to history and hierarchy – designed to remind us that ‘our’ money isn’t really ours at all. Brixton Pounds are the exact opposite. Joyous and empowering, they remind us that we can all make positive decisions about our spending, and make a real difference to the community around us. They’re wonderful invites to us all to step into a better future.”


The note, each of which has a unique serial number from its limited print run, will be available from 8 July at the evening launch event in central Brixton, and from local stockists and online thereafter. It is available to order on the Brixton Pound website: www.brixtonpound.org/shop 

The launch event will take place on Windrush Square on Wednesday 8 July 2015, from 6pm-10pm. Alongside the exchange point, where people will be able to purchase the special edition B£5, there will be a free give and take market, made up of donated items.