Category Archives: André

Crisis welcomes guests for Christmas

Salim playing cards with Crisis Volunteers

Pic: Courtesy of Crisis

The number of rough sleepers in London has nearly doubled since 2009, with almost 6500 estimated to be in the capital this Christmas. To help tackle this issue Crisis, a national charity dedicated to ending homelessness, opens day centres and night shelters across London every Christmas.

This years ‘Crisis at Christmas’ was the busiest yet, with almost 4000 people visiting the centres over the festive season. This could not have happened without its 9000 amazing volunteers, who helped give people the chance to access services and facilities across the capital.

Volunteers – who range from hairdressers, to washer-uppers and doctors – are the charity’s front line of support over Christmas and help to deliver the charity’s objective of breaking the cycle of homelessness; by using their wide ranging skills to offer food, companionship, entertainment, hairdressing, massage and  general health and advice services.

Art Wall

Artwork on display at the South East London Day Centre.

On Sunday 29 Dec, The Big Issue Online Journalists were at the South East London Day Centre. Alison, an arts and crafts tutor, who has been volunteering at Crisis for Christmas for 16 years told us: “It makes you feel great when people appreciate what you do. I really think you get as much out of it as they receive.” Adding, “I am always amazed at the talent and skills of the people who come into the centre. I think it is wonderful that they get the space and materials to create some amazing work, as this really helps them gain in confidence and realise their potential.”

As well as bringing a wealth of human experience and talent many guests also carry a wide range of needs and issues. George, a pensioner, loved the food and was most appreciative of being able to see a free dentist, as being homeless can make registering with medical practitioners very difficult.

For many it is the health provision at Crisis for Christmas that helps them the most. Over tea and a mince pie in the communal eating hall Carmel, who is disabled, said: “I could have my eyes, ears and teeth checked all at one time, struggling back and forth between services can be a big challenge for me”.

Bernadette, who had just enjoyed a massage and is delighted with her new haircut, first attended a Crisis centre 3 years ago. Since that time Bernadette said she has made a number of new friends, adding: “the social contact [that the centre provides] has really helped me overcome my isolation.”

Bernadette makes a strong point. With live music, people chatting, playing chess and generally socialising, there is a real sense of togetherness and belonging at the centre this Christmas.

To find out about the great work Crisis does all year round visit their website

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Social Enterprise Big Give Away

Big Issue Invest (BII), an independent subsidiary of the Big Issue, have made available £20 million to help grow social enterprise and social investment. Grants and loans from £50,000 to £1 million were made available. On the 16th October 2013 BII won the Charity Times Awards at Londons Lacaster Hotel. Nigel Kershaw, Chief Executive of BII said “We are extremely proud to be named social champion at these awards.” So far 160 Social Enterprises have received £20 million in funds. Social Enterprises are not for profit and re-invest all profits.

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Islington Estate Partnership’s Upward Cycle

The front runners of GetMoreBikes

The front runners of GetMoreBikes

Two entrepreneurs, Steve Connelly and Judith Paris, have teamed up with their local Tenants’ Management Organisation to build community cohesion through local involvement and employment with their cycle maintenance and repair workshop GetMoreBikes.

The workshop opened in March 2013 in converted garages rented from the TMO just off the Caledonian Road, north of King’s Cross, an area blighted by social deprivation. It is a social enterprise: any profit gets ploughed straight back into growth and development, and the TMO advertises and promotes GetMoreBikes’ activities locally. Continue reading

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Dalston Overwhelmed by Royal Baby Fever

Photography by Andre

Crowds throng the streets of Hackney in celebration

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The Learning Curve (Week 1)

What’s the Message?

My over-fondness of commas and description must end!  Short sentences and facts are, I have learned, the new order of the days… Days one and two – that is – of The Big Issue six-week online journalism course, held at the St Giles Trust, Hackney.

The seven of us started learning from the moment we sat down – writing tips like those above, and important lessons like: “know your audience”, and “get your message straight”. The initial medium for these lessons was promotional/advertising bumph from various social enterprises. Our method was to analyse the content (visual and written). The tool was Harold Lasswel’s 1949 succinct model questions: Who says what, in which channel, to whom and with what effect?

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Cumbrian town leads on social enterprise

The remote Cumbrian town of Alston Moor has beaten stiff competition to become the UK’s first “Social Enterprise Town”, in recognition of the way the Council develops and protects its local economy.  The  town works with nearly 20 social enterprises, supporting over 50 jobs. Shadow Civil Society spokesperson Gareth Thomas said the town “could be the trailblazer”. The award, from Social Enterprise UK, which represents many of Britain’s social enterprises, was sponsored by The Independent on Sunday.

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