Visit London Blog » charity Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:31:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Charity Cafes in London Tue, 04 Feb 2014 09:00:18 +0000 Cafe Eterno, near Covent Garden

If you’re looking for an alternative to London’s chain coffee shops, make a beeline for one of these feel-good cafes.

Your delicious coffee or homemade lunch could help a person with disabilities into work, a young person away from a life of crime, or get a homeless person off the streets.

Unity Kitchen at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkUnity Kitchen Cafe at the Olympic Park

Unity Kitchen is a fantastic social enterprise, which trains people with disabilities to become baristas, chefs and catering assistants. The bright and airy Timber Lodge café in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of five Unity Kitchen cafes in London. Pop in to enjoy fresh, seasonal food, including sandwiches, hot-pot dishes and sweet treats. And if you’re visiting with children, don’t forget to check out the fun Tumbling Bay children’s playground next door.

Crisis Skylight Cafe LondonSkylight Café

Part café, part social enterprise, part art space, Crisis’s Skylight Café in East London gives homeless people and ex-offenders training in the service industry – and a route into permanent employment. Currently, the housing charity is helping two trainees into work every month – as well as serving up delicious homemade soups, salads and daily specials prepared in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Living Water Satisfies

As well as being a lively café and social hub, Living Water Satisfies in Crystal Palace is a social enterprise, helping women to overcome domestic violence through counselling and supportive workshops. The café itself is both spacious and cosy, with comfy chairs, large windows and regular activities for children and adults. The menu has something for everyone too, with everything from a classic Full English Breakfast to Caribbean curries.

Inside Cafe Eterno

London City Mission’s Cafe Eterno

Tucked away on Neal Street in Covent Garden, Café Eterno is a friendly café offering an extensive menu and a warm welcome. Run by Christian ministry the London City Mission, the café is run on a non-profit basis, with proceeds going to fund the important work of the mission in local communities, hospitals and on the streets of the capital.

Café of Good Hope

Café of Good Hope is a jolly community café in Hither Green, South East London. It’s run by the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, which was set up in memory of London teenager Jimmy Mizen by his friends and family to promote peace and positivity in young people’s lives. A sister café, Sammy Ts, has also recently opened in nearby Mountsfield Park.

New Horizons CafeNew Horizons Cafe

Chelsea-based New Horizons Café is one of several community hubs managed by The Camden Society. Run in partnership with Open Age, the café is located within the New Horizons Activity Centre for people over 50 and offers training and support for people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and people with learning disabilities. The menu includes everything from healthy breakfasts to lunches, afternoon tea and Continental, British and Asian specialties.

The Hornbeam Café

Vegetarian food made using local, organic and fair-trade ingredients (where possible) is on the menu at The Hornbeam Café in Walthamstow, East London. The cafe also hosts a Saturday market stall, a veg-box scheme and a knitting, sewing and crafts group. Run on a non-profit basis, the cafe aims to encourage local residents to live more sustainably – such as through its bread-baking collective – and also provides a space for local groups to meet.

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The Sound of Change Concert at Twickenham Stadium Tue, 04 Jun 2013 10:47:02 +0000 Florence and the Machine Confetti rains down on crowd during concert Beyonce headlines Sound of Change via Twitter @LauraHarper1 @OliviaWestlake @AlexWestlake04

Beyonce ended the European leg of her Mrs Carter tour on Saturday by headlining The Sound of Change. The concert, which saw a stellar line-up of A-list celebrities descend on London, launched the Gucci-founded global campaign Chime for Change.

I was lucky enough to join an audience of 50,000 people to watch the four hour show, which was also broadcast live from Twickenham Stadium to an audience of 1 billion across 150 countries.

Short sets came from a predominantly female line up including surprise act Jessie J, who opened the concert. She was followed by Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, Laura Pausini, Florence and the Machine, John Legend, Haim and Ellie Goulding, who all performed a selection of their top hits. Jennifer Lopez was joined on stage by Mary J Blige for the Beatles classic Come Together. Timbaland was also joined on stage by another surprise act, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon.

Each act was interspersed with moving and inspirational short films, introduced by a line-up of presenters as impressive as the musical one, including James Franco, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Jada Pinkett Smith and Madonna. The hard hitting films presented the audience with statistics and highlighted issues and real life experiences.

What better and more fitting way to end an extraordinary event than with Chime for Change co-founder Beyonce. She opened with Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come, followed by Etta James’ At Last. Her empowering songs included Run the World (Girls), Destiny’s Child hit Survivor and If I were a Boy. She also performed a haunting rendition of the late Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You which lead into Halo. A highlight for me and considering the response, the whole audience, was when she was joined on stage by rapper husband Jay Z during Crazy in Love.

Co-founders Salma Hayek, Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, were joined by the biggest stars in the world right now to support an amazing cause. Chime for Change campaigns for education, health and justice “for every girl, every woman, everywhere” and the Sound of Change is its first event. The sell-out concert is expected to fund at least 120 projects in more than 70 countries from ticket sales alone. In a world first, ticket buyers could choose which project to fund and 100% of their money would go straight to the non-profit organisations.

Ellie was a guest of Freud.

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What’s On This Weekend: 31 May – 2 June Mon, 27 May 2013 09:00:14 +0000 June arrives in London this weekend, bringing with it lots of fun events and – hopefully – some sunshine too!

Toast Festival, Shoreditch

Shoreditch plays host to a thoughtful celebration of London’s dining culture this weekend, as the Toast Festival comes to town. Raising money for charity Action Against Hunger, the festival features talks by culinary luminaries such as Jeremy Lee and the Bompass and Parr team, as well as tastings, workshops and even an after party. Entry to the festival area, with its associated food stands and pop-up shop, is free, but tickets are required for talks and workshops. See the festival website for full details. 1-2 Jun 

The Soho Flea Market

Soho’s Dean Street will be closed to traffic on Sunday, as a range of artists, designers and craftsmen take over the street with stalls displaying their wares. Between 12pm to 8pm visitors can browse the unique stands and enjoy a variety of music and comedy performed on the outdoor stage. More information. 2 Jun

Ship Hats at the Cutty Sark 

Head to the Cutty Sark’s family fun weekend for a chance to learn about millinery and naval history. In honour of the fact that the ship once sailed under the Portugese flag as the Ferreira, the museum is inviting families to make spectacular ship hats in their special workshop, which can then be worn on Portugal Day on 10 June. The workshops are free with Cutty Sark entry (£12 for adults) and take place between 11.30am and 1.30pm, and 2pm to 4pm. 1-2 Jun 

The Circus Maximus Finals, Udderbelly Southbank

Udderbelly’s Circus Maximus contest has brought together 20 top circus acts to decide who will be crowned the UK’s top circus act. In the finals, you can see the last five acts perform a stunning new show that has been created especially for the competition. Expect spectacular displays of physical skill, as well as lots of laughs!  Tickets start from £23. Until 1 Jun

The Honeypot Pop-Up Kid’s  Boutique and Festival, Shoreditch

Children’s charity Honeypot is hosting a two day festival and pop-up clothes sale to raise money for the support it provides to young carers.  The event is open between 11am to 5pm on both days, and features a huge sale of kids’ clothes as well as workshops in street art, dance, music and fashion. You can also dazzle the crowds with your karaoke skills from the Honeypot Bus on Saturday afternoon – see the website for full event details and timings. 1-2 Jun

More London events

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Boris Bikes Raise Money for London Poppy Day Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:45:09 +0000 If you haven’t yet embraced London’s cycle hire scheme, tomorrow would be the perfect time to try it: Barclays is donating £1 to the Royal British Legion for all Boris Bike journeys made on 3 November.

Some of the Barclays Cycle Hire bikes will even be wearing their own poppy, as the usual branding space will be replaced with poppy stickers.

The initiative is part of London Poppy Day, raising money for members of the British Armed Services, past and present, and their dependents. Volunteers will be collecting donations at stations across London tomorrow, and look out for several bands playing in Central London locations including Canary Wharf and Leadenhall Market.

London will mark Remembrance Day with special services and events on and around 13 November 2011.

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Support Children in Need with the London RIB Voyages Tue, 27 Sep 2011 15:00:10 +0000

London RIB Voyages have teamed up with Children in Need and children’s charity Brainwave to give deserving families a complimentary trip on the Thames.

If you’re around the London RIB Voyages launch site from 22 October, look out for Pudsey Bear who’ll be in and around the pier, meeting passengers and posing for photos. Don’t be surprised if he asks for a donation in return!

Pudsey will also messing about on the river with Thames Clippers and City Cruises during Children in Need week (22-28 Oct).

Look out for more information nearer the time on

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Threads of Feeling at the Foundling Museum Thu, 14 Oct 2010 10:17:48 +0000

The Foundling Museum has embraced heartache and hope in their latest exhibition, Threads of Feeling. The show displays some of the tiny tokens that mothers left with their babies when they gave them up to London’s Foundling Hospital in the 1700s.

The hospital was founded by Thomas Coram who wanted to give abandoned children a decent life. Children were accepted anonymously so women were not publicly shamed into abandoning their babies elsewhere, but mothers were encouraged to leave a small token which was then added to the admission books with the details of the child.

The tokens on display include ribbons, fabric scraps and baby clothes. The scraps range from plain rough worsted to the occasional piece of fancy silk brocade, indicating the mothers came from all levels of society. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the fashions of the period.

Although there are about 5000 textile tokens in the archives, there is only room to display a small number of them in this exhibition and it really left me wanting to see more.

One of the most touching pieces is a crudely embroidered felt heart which indicates how reluctant the mother was to give up her child. The exhibition and the museum are both incredibly moving. I felt quite emotional on the train home, and will be reflecting on my visit for a long time.

When you’ve seen Threads of Feeling, head upstairs and explore the main collection to find out what life was like in the hospital, and what happened to the children after they left. You’ll also find out about the work of the Coram charity who still support and bring hope to disadvantaged children today.

To link the theme of threads throughout the building, VV Rouleaux‘s Annabel Lewis has created a waterfall of ribbons and bows which cascades down through the stairwell of the grand staircase and looks absolutely stunning.

Threads of Feeling at the Foundling Museum 14 October – 6 March. Adults £7.50, concessions £5, under 16s free.

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The London Wetland Centre Welcomes WWT’s 200,000th Member Thu, 26 Aug 2010 15:00:16 +0000

Congratulations to the London Wetland Centre nature reserve, which has just recruited its 200,000th member.

And that member is keen wildlife photographer, Rachel Andrew. Rachel recalls many happy childhood visits to one of WWT’s other centres in Washington, Tyne and Wear. She chose to join the Trust after a day out at London Wetland Centre with her family earlier this year.

London Wetland Centre thanked Rachel with a special private visit to the reserve on Monday before it opened to the public. Rachel and her family then took a tour of the beautiful Wildside area of the site with Adam Salmon, the Centre’s reserve manager, where they were lucky enough to spot green sandpipers and hear Cetti’s warblers singing.

General manager Martin Senior presented Rachel and her family with a special hamper of WWT goodies.

Rachel said, “We became members of the WWT in order to support the work that they do and to be able to enjoy the centre throughout the year, as it is a fantastic location for wildlife photography. We really enjoyed our day at the centre where we discovered how much work goes on behind the scenes to make the London Wetland Centre such a special place for birds, animals and plants – and for the visitors like us who come to enjoy seeing them.”

Martin Senior, General Manager said, “We are delighted that Rachel chose to join WWT here at London Wetland Centre. Our members are really important because they ensure we can carry on protecting wetland wildlife. Rachel and her family will now be able to come in as often as they want and see how the reserve changes throughout the year.”

Find out more about the WWT London Wetland Centre

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Video of the Week: London Elephant Parade (You and Me) Fri, 02 Jul 2010 15:00:10 +0000

Here’s a video of the London Elephant Parade, ahead of tomorrow’s auction.

Do you fancy buying one of these babies? Tickets to the Elephant Parade Grand Auction & Champagne Brunch on 3rd July are still on sale for a meaty, but manageable £75.

You can also bid online: find out more here.

If the prices are still a bit steep for you, why not pop down to Carnaby Street or Selfridges, where you can buy miniature elephants (from about £27) and the official book until the end of July. Or take a look at the elephant parade online shop.

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Design Your Own Cupcake For The Primrose Bakery Tue, 15 Jun 2010 13:59:32 +0000 Regular readers of the VL Blog will know how much we love cupcakes.

If you enjoy making them as well as eating them, you might be interested in a little cupcake-based competition…

The Primrose Bakery is asking baking enthusiasts to design and create their own cupcake recipe. The winning cupcake will be sold in the Primrose Bakery for five days in July, with £1 of each sale donated to charity Wellbeing of Women.

To enter, post your recipe and cupcake photo onto the Primrose Bakery’s Facebook page, to be judged by the Primrose Bakery panel. You have until 14 July 2010 to enter.

Wellbeing of Women raises money to improve women’s health through research, education and training.

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Rage Against The Machine at Finsbury Park Wed, 09 Jun 2010 13:23:45 +0000 On Sunday night Rage Against the Machine played to 40,000 fans at Finsbury Park as a “thank you” for their Christmas No. 1.

It all began last December when a Facebook campaign put Californian band Rage Against the Machine’s song Killing In The Name at the top of the UK single charts, beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry to Christmas number one. It was the first time in five years that a winner from the TV talent show ( as well as producer Simon Cowell) had not enjoyed a Christmas No. 1.

More than 180,000 people applied for tickets to the concert via an online lottery. I was one of the lucky 40,000 winners, but that didn’t stop several hundred ticketless fans scaling the fence.

It was a star-studded list of support bands including punk-veterans Gallows, hip-hop superstar Roots Manuva and gypsy-punks Gogol Bordello, who warmed up the crowd.

The crowd was ferocious when RATM came on stage and the band didn’t disappoint. Their rendition of popular 1992 track Bullet in the Head confirmed the band had lost none of its raw energy.

RATM called Jon and Tracy Morter, the couple who orchestrated the Facebook campaign, on to the stage in order to present a cheque — 100% of the proceeds from the Killing In The Name single were donated to the homeless charity Shelter.

Zach De la Rocha then paid tribute to the British punk tradition with a cover of The Clash‘s White Riot.

Finally the band left the stage before the encore, and the sound system pumped out X Factor winner’s single The Climb, while quotes from the newspapers filled the screens recounting the countdown to the Christmas Number one single sales. The words flashed up: “YOU Made History” as the the band rejoined the stage to play their biggest hit and last song of the night, Killing in the Name, and the crowd went wild.

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