Category Archives: London Leaders

Welcoming our new London Leaders!


‘London Leaders’ is the Commission’s pioneering pan-London programme designed to demonstrate the power of collaboration and innovation in tackling that sustainability challenges that face global cities such as London.  We launched the programme in 2007 and we have now recruited over 60 Leaders.  Individuals who are selected as Leaders commit to delivering a unique project over the course of a year. 

The purpose of the programme is threefold:

  • To inspire and catalyse positive change
  • To demonstrate sustainability in action
  • To increase London’s capacity for leadership in sustainable development

The London Leaders programme was developed following international research on best practice urban sustainability initiatives, which is summarised in the LSDC publication, ‘A Greater London: making it happen’.

Leadership comes in a variety of forms, and the LSDC supports a diverse group of sustainability leaders who are involved in a range of projects across the capital.  Past London Leaders have included working mums, chefs, teachers, musicians, business-owners and representatives from London’s football clubs.  Whether it’s a pan-London business initiative or a small-scale community project, inspirational and practical actions that deliver tangible benefits is the key.

Our new London Leaders are:

Andrew Dakers – The Wex Factor

Andrew is turning ‘work experience’ into ‘work inspiration’ and helping young people make the right choices as they move from school into employment.

Paul Hocker – ‘Pop-Up’ Natural Play Shops

Where outdoor play spaces are rare, Paul’s project will develop free to use high street locations that give children the chance to experience nature on their doorstep.

Maeve McLoughlin – 600% Engagement

Utilising the amazing creative resources that London has to offer, Maeve will help to take environmental action to the next level, by engaging hearts and minds with creative, thought-provoking and upbeat communications.

Paula Owen – Making London More Sustainable – One Game at a Time

Paula will use the idea of games to encourage people to change their behaviour and habits so they become more sustainable in their everyday lives, bringing fun to the challenge to be greener.

Alo Raptopoulos – Cause You Can Workshops

Alo will deliver a series of after-school workshops for Primary school children in deprived boroughs. Performing arts training – culminating in live performance – is used to build confidence and character, with a view to creating sustainable leadership and aiding social cohesion.

Zoe Robinson – The Good Wardrobe

Zoe will develop a sustainable fashion website helping Londoners to share information and prolong the life of their wardrobes: the antithesis of fast fashion.


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‘Young London Leaders’ get hands-on with the environment

‘Young London Leaders’ is an initiative launched by 2011 London Leader Jo Butcher which aims to harness the energy of young people to build sustainable communities across London. It incorporates a focus on increasing marginalised young people’s participation in action on sustainable lifestyles with the desire to embed their involvement locally.

Young London Leaders, partnered with Imperial College and its Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network of community scientists, is set to develop and run a diverse programme of activities this year including roadshows and hands-on surveys. Young people will be given the chance to take part in exciting projects and practical activities to develop their understanding of the local environment.

Earlier this month, the Young London Leaders project got off to a flying start in Waltham Forest working closely with two secondary Pupil Referral Units and classes from neighbouring schools. Participants alongside key figures in the local community enjoyed an interactive learning experience featuring a weather roadshow, designed to put them in touch with the natural world and encourage them to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. There are more exciting events to come, so watch this space.

Jo Butcher is programme director at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). NCB are eager to support children and young people to respect the limits of the planet and live their lives sustainably.

We’re really excited to be working with young people to build more sustainable communities. The open air laboratories are a perfect way to fire their imaginations about the environment, and hopefully inspire others in their community to be greener as a result,” says Jo.

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NHS Sustainability Day

NHS establishments, stakeholders and supply chain partners participated in the first NHS Sustainability day on the 28th of March. With a range of innovative, fun and challenging events on the day, 2011 London Leader Trevor Payne hopes to give a clear demonstration of commitment towards driving the service to be more sustainable.

In the mean time, Trevor has been involved in the launch of NHS ReUse – an NHS eBay system for surplus equipment, alongside mapping the carbon footprint of all NHS healthcare buildings in London. With more exciting projects to follow, and to hear all about the NHS Sustainability Day, watch this space…

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‘Deaf Learners’ project goes live

To top off the resounding successes of his year as a London Leader, Abdi Gas’s Deaf Unity’s Deaf Learners launch event at University College London at the end of February was packed with Deaf and hard of hearing students, graduates and professionals all eager to learn how Deaf Learners can positively impact on their lives and careers.

2011 London Leader Abdi Gas founded Deaf Unity with the desire to create a legacy that engages, cultivates and capitalises on the talent available within the Deaf community. Currently Deaf students make up just 0.17% of all UK University applicants and for those that do graduate, unemployment levels have doubled in the last two years. Abdi’s Deaf Learners initiative offers skill training workshops which include interview technique coaching, CV clinics, presentation training and mentoring sessions.

Abdi outlines that ‘Deaf Learners is an important initiative to give support and resources that Deaf Learners need in order to be able to succeed. We urge all stakeholders, education providers, students services and organisations wanting to provide work with Deaf Learners to make use of this important resource.’

With keynote speakers including Breish Rowe, a Deaf graduate and current chair of the Deaf Professionals Network, Rob Holland from the National Union of Students, Employment provider Seetec and Carina Schmoldt from Disability Rights UK, explored both barriers and opportunities within the Deaf Learner community. There was ample opportunity to network for all delegates, speakers and stall holders, highlighting the best of services for all Deaf Learners to take advantage of.

Following the event, Robert Holland (NUS) commented ‘The Deaf Learners forum is an excellent initiative. The networking event at UCL brought together Deaf students, Deaf graduates, together with people working in both the further and higher education sectors for a great session on information sharing as to what’s out there in terms of support, Deaf people’s rights but also employment opportunities. It was also a great opportunity for Deaf people to share real life experiences about being a student.’

Nothing but positive feedback has flooded in, and since the launch there has been a significant increase in registration of the Deaf Learners Forum, the one stop shop for all Deaf students, graduates and professionals seeking information, advice and guidance to propel learning and careers. The Forum is the result of Deaf Unity’s vision to empower and give choices to Deaf Learners.

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Green makeover

2011 London Leader Maria Adebowale is giving the hair and beauty sector a green makeover.

The hair and beauty industry may not strike you as an obvious starting point for greening the economy. But by stripping its products of hazardous substances, making smarter use of water and electricity and greening its training and jobs, the sector can become a leading green industry and green job provider. That is what Capacity Global’s Skin project aims to do.

The UK has 31,000 hair and beauty industry businesses employing an estimated 205,000 people – double the number of jobs predicted for the energy efficiency-manufacturing sector.

The Skin project which is part of The AcadEmy, supported by London Leaders will support a more general transition into a low carbon, green economy. That means an economy that cares about people and the environment. Maria says: “We want greener jobs to provide opportunities that support environmental justice and provide fair wages whether you’re a solar panel fitter or a hairdresser.”

Capacity will be working with the London College of Beauty Therapy, Maximiliano Centini, owner of Maximiliano Centini Salon and Abena Richardson, owner of Asquared Salon, to help turn the industry green. Look out for our fantastic ambassadors who will support and promote Skin.

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Oil to energy, waste to resource

Proper Oils, founded by 2011 London Leader Stephen Hurton in 2007, is an innovative business venture set to prove that working locally is better, and that a sustainable business can produce both sustainable benefits and an economic return. Proper Oils collects waste cooking oil – both used vegetable oils and animal fats – from caterers, refines it into high quality biodiesel, and supplies it to local organisations in London and the South East of England.

Stephen’s aim as a London Leader was to demonstrate the benefits of collecting our waste cooking oil and turning it into a resource by refining it into biofuel, all within London. Through Proper Oils, he aimed to make sustainability tangible for organisations by recycling locally.

Having accomplished a great deal since its launch, Proper Oils continues to boast its successes with its exciting new collaborative project to optimise biodiesel production. As part of their drive to deliver real environmental impacts, they have teamed up with the University of Brighton to undertake a project which will optimise biodiesel production and ensure the production of consistently high quality accredited fuel.

The project, which is funded through the government run scheme Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP), will run for two years and will provide a strong foundation for business growth by enabling the replication of their production facility.

There are many sustainable changes that face London, with waste and energy at the forefront. This is the beginning of an exciting project at Proper Oils, and one which will help in their aims to solve a waste problem, add value to waste, and create a new, useful resource.

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Waste not, want not…

Last month saw the launch of 2011 London Leader Lotti Henley’s inspirational project, Plan Zheroes, injecting innovation, creativity and fun into an otherwise serious issue. The UK food retail industry sends 1.6 million tonnes of surplus food to landfill every year, whilst there are 4 million people in the UK who are living below the breadline. These stark figures form the situation that the Plan Zheroes team are striving to change, addressing the problem hands on.

With participants at the launch forming groups, key questions were addressed in light of tackling this bleak situation. What are the most effective ways to get more food businesses and charities on the map? How do we gain political and public support for this vision? How can we assist overcoming the barriers that prevent businesses from donating surplus food to charities? How do we make it easier for people to get involved? How can we further facilitate links between dots on the map? The brainstorming goes on…

Plan Zheroes is ultimately seeking to deliver the inspiration and motivation missing in the plight to tackle food waste, and help make connections between food businesses and charities. While some organisations, such as Pret a Manger, FoodCycle and FareShare are already working to reduce food waste and are diverting surplus food to people who need it, there are still many more who don’t know that this is possible and are not aware of the range of existing solutions.

Plan Zheroes has created a website and an online map that enables business and charities to identify where their nearest donators/receivers of surplus food are located – over 100 businesses and 30 charities are currently signed up.  The map provides contact details and guidance on what food is available or what food is needed.

It’s an incredibly simple idea but it does take a lot of hard work to bring it to life. For me this is all about connecting local communities. If there is food going to waste in your neighbourhood and there are people in need just down the road then we must link them,’ says Lotti.

Naturally, everyone left with goodie bags and containers to ensure no food was wasted.

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