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We are a unique charity supporting community, good works, creativity and wellbeing in Bethnal Green since 1889. Our projects anchor us in the community, providing spaces for residents to eat, shop, learn, create, and enjoy a diverse cultural programming. Our buildings are home to more than 25 community organisations and charities that rent space on our premises and many others that hire our rooms for their meetings, training sessions, and events. The profits from our projects enable us to run volunteer programmes, do good works in the community and further support local organisations.





The Gallery Cafe


14. 16. 18.


Monthly Exhibitions Book Club Chapel Cinema




East London Community Wellbeing

24. 26.

The Create Place

28. 29.

Community Organising

Most good things start with enthusiastic people, so I would like to thank everyone that’s brought their enthusiasm to SMH this year: trustees, staff, volunteers, users and collaborators. There’s been a sense of moving forward with practically everything we do. Our very popular vegan and vegetarian café, The Gallery Café, apart from providing excellent food and coffee, is in every sense a community resource and an integral part of what we do. We have a brilliant range of events here,in the chapel and our halls, something for everyone practically every day of the week.


Our health and well-being project, East London Community Wellbeing, which includes the Yoganest,

offers a wider range than ever of free, low-cost or donation-based exercise, yoga and dance classes. We now have almost twice the number of tutors and attendees as we did two years ago.


The Create Place works with local arts and crafts makers and now provides a richer mix of free or low-cost classes, workshops and drop-ins. Ayoka, our charity shop, attracts more and more customers and volunteers and provides a valuable service offering affordable quality clothing, accessories ,books and bric-a-brac . The SMH Community Organising project has completed its second year. With more than 200 one-to-one debate sessions and 20 recruited volunteers, we hope to adapt the programme to better suit people’s needs in the following year. We continue to provide office spaces and meeting rooms at full capacity and at below market rates for likeminded charities, community groups and social enterprises, as a main source of income. All of this is being held together with very good communications and social media presence so we are very excited to work on a comprehensive brand exercise and a new more in depth approach to marketing in the year to come. Tony Hardie, Director

We are here to make our neighbourhood a better place and we are ready to support any worthwhile community centred initiative so if you have any ideas please get in touch.



The Gallery Cafe

We have continued to grow on our success and become a go-to venue not just for vegetarians and vegans but for the local community and beyond, with our weekends being busier than ever.

Our popularity has also been confirmed by winning for the Time Out Love London award for Best cafĂŠ in Bethnal Green for the third year in a row. We like the cafĂŠ to be a place to comfort eat as the popularity of our burger and full English breakfast demonstrate, but our new head chef and sous chef are continuing to develop our menu and this year has seen some very exciting new additions already. Progress was also made on waste management by controlling our portion sizes but encouraging the creativity of our team of chefs to come up with exciting daily specials utilising our ingredients to their best advantage. After we introduced a juice bar last year, we have expanded the section with top level equipment and juice sales account for 10% of our total sales. We have also developed our coffee offering this year and our front of house team continues to improve their barista skills so we are definitely in contention for serving some of the best coffee in the area.

to see so many people enjoying their time in our garden. The first was our Family Day, with entertainment for children from magicians to face painting, yoga, an outdoor bubble display, a puppet show, arts & crafts and a brilliant Gypsy Jazz band finishing off the day. The second was our Garden Party which, despite the rain, had some amazing sets from some of the musicians listed above. Both events will be returning bigger and better in 2017. This year, over 144 public events have taken place in our café, chapel, hall and garden. Our diverse calendar has included live music, comedy, art, theatre, spoken word and film. We’ve had so much great live music in the café this year covering everything from Rock, Pop, Folk, Indie, Soul, Rap, Acoustic, Balkan, Swing, Reggae and Punk. A special thanks goes out to Circe’s Diner, Rebecca Vaughan, Cameron J Niven, Sam Lunn, Sam Ashton, London Gypsy Orchestra, Manderley, Tear and Shagpile who have all been part of some of our favourite events throughout the year. We had two events that were key successes and it was brilliant

Our monthly spoken word nights, Mouths Wide Shut and Capital Letters have both celebrated their first year anniversaries at our venue and continue to book some of the best poets from London as well as giving newcomers a stage to perform themselves. We welcomed back our monthly open mic night in August with some great performances, including comedy and theatre as well as music. We were so pleased to have hosted 5 externally run fundraisers for a range of causes including Bipolar UK, Drugsline Education, The Meditation Trust, Amma’s Embracing the World and Standing Voices.


We have continued to showcase the works of East London artists or work that represents an aspect of our community on a monthly basis, with two extra exhibitions taking place in the chapel and with Whitechapel Galleries ranking our October photography exhibition, #Girltown, as one of their top 5 exhibitions to visit over the entire month.


We thank all 14 artists who displayed their art up on our walls over the year and we look forward to the next set we will see in 2017.

PORTRAITS : Cristina BanBan PIECE OF CAKE : Jim Billy Wheeler ART & TRAVEL : Miel&Bel. WINDOW PRINTS : Christopher Wheeler SOLO EXHIBITION : Stephen Staunton

Monthly Exhibition

COLOUR : Anita Bodis ART4U2 : Art4U2 CULTURAL CONNECTIONS : Matthew Joseph SWINGIN’CISION : Gotcha La Boom GIRL TOWN : Shutterhub and Old Girl Club AFRIWEST : Antonietta Torsiello CHARMING CREATURES : Laurene Pijulet-Balmer



The Gallery Cafe Book Club is at the heart of the cultural programme at St Margaret’s House. It was established in 2010 to offer space to explore the pleasure and complexity of modern and contemporary fiction free of charge as part of a group of curious readers in order to develop The Gallery Café’s community role.

Book Club

The Book Club welcomes those with a background in literary studies and those who read for pleasure, and is convened to interpretations available from cutting-edge critical perspectives on literature published in scholarly journals not readily accessible outside the academy. In the six years that The Book Club has been part of St Margaret’s House, it has brought together a group of people who share a love of literature and commitment to St Margaret’s social and environmental work. Members travel across London to gather at the Cafe for the Club’s third Tuesday meetings, and collectively convene the discussions, events, screenings and translator talks that have led the Club to flourish.

Chapel Cinema


Our free chapel cinema screenings have grown in popularity and, even though our incredible volunteer Martha Sedgwick, has moved on, we are teaming up with two equally enthusiastic volunteers to put together a new programme of films, from golden oldies to character-based documentaries, locally made films and everything in between. Having worked with the East End Women’s Institute, Gallery Café Book Club, International Women’s Day, East London Photography Month, Up Your Street, Code Club London and many more groups this year, we hope to continue screening a diverse programme of films that everyone can enjoy throughout 2017.

Ayoka is more than a charity shop, we are being able to look at what both customers and donors want, how we can engage with them, fulfil their needs and build up loyalty, which is so important! Beyond being a popular source of designer pieces, clothes, antiques, accessories, bric-a-brac, books, vinyl and so much more, we are a cosy sanctuary for the people of Bethnal Green, who visit us for a nice chat, a piece of advice, inspiration, a quick browse or just a cheerful break on a busy day.


We have become the main source of wardrobe recycling for over 650 people who brought in donations this year.

20 We are always looking to increase the diversity and quality of the products, the visual display and the service level while actively promoting and supporting our volunteers, whom we see as part of the family within St Margaret’s. Throughout the year we had 35 volunteers working at our shop and we would not operate nearly as well without their dedication and support. They’re the reason we’re able to open seven days a week and are a huge part of why our customers keep coming back again and again. All Ayoka volunteers have their own motivations for working with us but they all develop confidence and interpersonal transferable skills, gain valuable retail experience to add onto their CV, make new friends and meet a diverse group of people and most of all make an invaluable contribution to St Margaret’s goal of helping and supporting our community. Some of the most important achievements this year include the expansion of the team with a passionate Shop Assistant Manager and also setting up an online shop for all you out there who find it easier to shop from your phone or laptop.

East London Community Wellbeing

With more than 1650 classes and 20 workshops provided for the community, we can say that ELCW has had it’s best year ever. We expanded our timetable and we now work with 24 teachers who offer 38 weekly classes out of which three are completely free, almost half of them by donation and all the rest at very low costs.

22 We focused on diversifying the timetable while also catering to the requests we received so now our timetable is peppered with dance and yoga sessions for children, mum & baby and pregnancy classes, NIA and, very soon, seated acupuncture massage. As with all of our projects, this is more than about wellbeing, it’s also about making meaningful connections with people that live in the same area and share the same interests. Here is just one of the stories about the warm community feeling that we support with our projects and with the help of the wonderful teachers who dedicate their time to sharing their skills and knowledge. I was looking for a local yoga class some months ago and found out about The Yoganest. I found that the Sunday morning class suited me best. Flavia Cerrone sets it at just the right level and she is great at creating a friendly environment where people can interact with each other without feeling out of place. I soon made a new friend, Ha, who is not only a creative person like me, but also turned out to be almost a neighbour, living very close to where I am! For me, the yoga class is not just about the practice, wonderful in its own way, but it’s also about who you meet and the sense of community that creates, bringing locals together with whom you would not meet unless you took up a common interest like yoga! Amanda Taylor, Yoganest student

The Create Place

Our creative shop also grew wings this year as we increased the range of activities that we offer with the help of 18 facilitators who ran over 365 workshops, both free and low cost.

24 Our weekly recurring sessions include a free crafting classpatchwork, quilting and sewing, art classes for all levels with local group Art4U2 or with East London Art Club, a Life Drawing Salon, an art & drama after school club with a variety of drama games, acting and artworks creation, extremely affordable Photoshop or Illustrator courses, a free beading and jewellery making class ,botanical illustration and nature drawing classes and free workshops for people who suffer from deafness, hearing loss and other disabilities in partnership with the charity group ViVas Pro. The themes include leatherwork, sewing/tailoring, flower arrangement and much more. We also have a small creative hub upstairs, a project of one of our volunteer tutors who brought together 4 members of the community for a shared working space where they can develop their individual projects. The emphasis for next year is to help nurture all of our current events and workshops, getting them to offer the best they can for our community as well as continuing to grow our range of activities so that there is something for everyone.

If you had not knocked on my door and just listened to me, I would not have realised just how bad things had become. I would not have met up with other tenants and I would not have got things done. Local resident talking to our Community Organizer

The main issues people worry about are the area changing and losing the feeling of community and that renting and buying in Tower Hamlets is too expensive. There seems to be an exodus of people who are moving out of the area because they are very dissatisfied. I have spoken to young people who pay half their salary on rent and even compromise with their landlord by having more people living in to the property. Some tenants have had to move out of their home into a room within a house because of rental price increases. This is a very big issue and I have just been able to scratch the surface of it. Isabel Mannix, SMH Community Organiser

26 Community organising involves having one-to-one sessions with members of the community to discuss their feedback on the area, and involve them in an action that suits their interests. With the support of Locality, we have been running this project for two years. Going door-knocking has helped us gather information and support residents to tackle issues they felt were important to them. Regular listenings were held at the Gallery CafĂŠ and this gave them the opportunity to just pop in and share their thoughts over a free cup of coffee.

Community Organising

Some of the achievements this year include the forming of a

Gardening Club, a Therapy Through Art group, a successful self-sustaining holding team as well as lots of estate-based work. The Gardening Club continues to meet on Saturday mornings, and the Therapy Through Art group has been approached by a charity for people with impaired vision that has expressed an interested in setting up a workshop beneficial to their members, and also offered to help with funding. We helped tackle a diverse range of problems: from anti-social behaviour to rubbish dumped on estates. Together we overcame those issues by setting up meetings and discussing solutions. Together we also achieved the setting up of a Tenants Association, installing new lighting and new refuse bins. Working in the community has given us a greater understanding of the problems faced, but also a confirmation of how we can work together to change things. Some of the challenges our team faces are still the same as ever. Residents can give up quite easily if the problem is going to be hard to deal with, they just need to know that we are here to help.

Being a hub for charitable organisations in Tower Hamlets, there have been a whole range of groups that we hosted in our rooms including the University of the 3rd Age, East End Women’s Institute, Queen Mary’s University of London, Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service and the Friends of Bethnal Green Gardens. The list goes on and on and we are so proud to be able to offer our low price rates to many more charities.

28 We are also very pleased to welcome 2 new members to our family: ethical communications agency Adergrun with whom we have a very exciting partnership in the following year and also Nekton, a charity whose work focuses on the health of the deep oceans.


Our friends also include: British Stammering Association | Action Reconciliation Service for Peace | Tower Hamlets Friends & Neighbours | Bangladeshi Parents and Carers Association | Quaker Social Action | Arboreal Architecture Ltd.| English for Action | Globe Bengali Mohila Shamity | Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Service | London City Psychotherapy | Speak Network | Tall & Ginger | Bodywise | Reality Shift Counselling | Ashoka | Freshwater Theatre Company Ltd | WEBIC Miracle Centre London | Grand Union Orchestra | Spice | Community Psychotherapy Network | Wish | City & East London Bereavement Service | Inner City Centre.


21 Old Ford Road, E2 9PL / 0208 980 2092 / StMargaretsLDN


St. Margaret’s House

We are a team of more than 75 employees, volunteers and collaborators – people from all over the world brought together under one roof, who share the same desire to be useful to the community and make a difference, however small or large.


The trustees who served the charity during the year were as follows: Mrs Linda Ransom (Chair) , Miss Barbara Perrott (Secretary) , Mr David Ransom , Mr Norbert Lieckfeldt (Hon. Treasurer), Mrs Shamimara Choudhury, Fr Alan Green, Ms Sandhya Sharma, Ms Orla Houston-Jibo, Ms Rachel Schon, Mr Robin Froggatt-Smith, Ms Niki Stevens, Ms Kathryn Busby, Mr Timothy Bell, Mr Thomas Lau. 23 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ ayokacharityshop Ayoka Charity Shop

The Yoganest, 27 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ The Yoganest EastLdnCW

29 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ The Create Place

21 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ The Gallery Cafe the_gallerycafe the_gallerycafe


21 Old Ford Road, E2 9PL

An Anglican foundation | Registered Charity No. 1148832 | Member of Locality - a nationwide network for community led organisations

Annual review 2016  
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