Who we are
St. Margaret’s House is a unique charity supporting community, good works, creativity & wellbeing in Bethnal Green.
Our projects anchor us in the community, providing spaces for residents to eat, shop, learn, create, and enjoy a diverse cultural program. Our buildings are home to more than 27 community organisations and charities that made our buildings their home and many others that hire our rooms for their meetings, training sessions, and events.
The Gallery Cafe offers a vegan menu with many locally-sourced options, as well as serving as a popular events venue.
Our charity shop, Ayoka, is a wellspring of low-cost yet fashionable clothing, housewares, books, records, and CDs.
The Create Place began as an arts and crafts workshop and also provides space for support groups, wellbeing initiatives, and adult learning classes to better serve the diverse needs of our community.
The profits from these projects enable us to run volunteer programmes, do good works in the community and support local organisations.
Meet a few of our wonderful team members:
TONY HARDIE - Director
I’m Tony Hardie, I’m the director of St. Margaret’s House. I’m a teetotal, non-smoking vegan cyclist but broadly non-judgemental toward people who can’t attain these exemplary standards. :)
LUCINDA KINGSNORTH - General Manager, Gallery Cafè
It’s really exciting to see the Gallery Café grow and to know we provide something special to our customers and the community. I love working here because of all the amazing people I get to meet and the staff I work with! PS. I’m the crazy one who writes the funny blackboards.
MATTHEW SOGORSKI - Head Chef, Gallery Cafe
I actually got into cooking by accident .I needed a job after my first year in university and went to work in a restaurant washing up and helping with preparing food, I learned on the job and my skills developed quickly. When I moved to London from the north east I knew I wanted to work with vegetarian and vegan food, as I had been brought up mostly vegetarian and wanted to learn more about the cuisine. After working for a few street food vendors, cafes and pop ups I came across the Gallery Cafe where I have been for over 2 years now. I am a huge believer in eating seasonal,natural foods and using as few unprocessed ingredients as possible , this is important for our well being and the planet plus the other animals we share it with .
SIMONE BANDINI - Sous Chef, Gallery Cafe
St Margaret's House and The Gallery Café are truly lovely places to work. I'm a creative and hardworking chef with a deep passion for food and lots of experience working in busy restaurants around Italy and England. At 16, inspired by my grandmothers, I started my food sharing adventure and since then I've always known that being in a kitchen, preparing amazing food for others, is where I want to be.
NICOLA DI RUSSO - Chef, Gallery Café
After changing my diet a decade ago I always wanted to become a chef, which I did a few years later. I have worked as vegan chef around the world and I really like how this job really lets me express myself and be creative. I believe that veganism is the most powerful choice we can make to change world and ourselves.
OLIVIA MASON- Volunteer Art Curator
Having worked in arts fundraising for a number of years it is a pleasure to now be part of the Gallery team and work alongside some fantastic artists. I am passionate about culture-led regeneration and particularly love supporting the amazing artistic community in and around east London. I look forward to forging some excellent collaborations
NATALIE JOELLE - Volunteer, Founder of the Gallery Cafe Book Club
I am a doctoral researcher in English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and lecturer at Morley College, where I direct The Close Reading Room. I founded
the Gallery Café Book Club 7 years ago and we still meet every month!
FRANCESCA ROMERO REUS- Cafe Assistant, Gallery Cafe
As a convinced vegetarian, it makes me very happy to work in a
place that serves cruelty-free food exclusively; and being part of such an inspiring and lovely crowd makes me even happier. Outside the cafe, I
occasionally teach Spanish lessons, play and record my own music and annoy people by performing unsolicited songs of my band back in Spain, Los Ovarios.
DIANA SERBAN -Communications & Administration Manager
FRANCESCA GRASSI- Graphic Designer
SIOBHAN FORSHAW - Community Arts Manager
JENNIFER RICHARDS- Social Media Coordinator
AMANDA TALSMA-WILLIAMS -‘Crafting is Connecting’ Coordinator , Create Place
I am a full-time Mum who never gave up teaching. I started volunteering 3 years ago to see what a business sharing the pleasures of making could be like. But it has turned out to be much more than work experience for me: I enjoy the exchange of ideas, the different perspectives on problem-solving and the encouragement. Everyone shows everyone new things. Not competitive but exciting and stimulating nevertheless.
LUCY EDMONDS- Barrista, Gallery Cafe
OLLIE- Volunteer, Ayoka
DRITA - Volunteer, Ayoka
MARTIN- KP, Gallery Cafe
GEORGE PARIS - Events Manager
NIGEL MACMILLAN - Community Engagement Manager, Ayoka
I manage a diverse group of volunteers at Ayoka who all work brilliantly to run our little community shop. By the local community at large, we are seen as a boutique with a retro feel, and this warms my heart. We also spread the message of the environmental impact with donated goods and the benefits of purchasing recycled items, helping towards the reduction of the carbon footprint.
MARTIN PETTITT - Administrator
SUZANNE BAKER- Assistant Manager, Ayoka
JOSE GAMA - Finance Manager
JANICE HATT- Volunteer, Ayoka
I was born in East London and moved to Bethnal Green in 2009. I have worked at Ayoka for over 2 years and I really enjoy being there. I get to meet people from all walks of life- a complete mixture of human life. To be honest, I think Ayoka has done more for me than I've done there . I get a good feeling being in the shop, it's much more than a charity shop, it's a community shop and I love being there.
BRENDA DAVIES - Volunteer Workshop Facilitator, The Create Place
I'm a retired teacher and I've lived in the area for over 35 years. After years of teaching, I took a few courses in beading and then decided I would like to carry on beading with other people. I didn't think of being the teacher, but I found myself being persuaded and nearly three years later I'm still here. I enjoy the mix of people, sharing my skills with others to try out new techniques and problem solve. I like to ensure people learn the basics of working with wire and then they can branch off into wirework, pearl knotting and fabric jewellery. Sessions are fun and people go away with a sense of achievement, which gives me satisfaction too. I've always been interested in craft, but never committed much time to it, now I'm making up for that lost time!