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 rent space on our premises 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.
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, The Gallery Cafè
I have been working at The Gallery Café for just over five years. It’s been really exciting to see the business 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. I’m looking forward to the summer and having lots of exciting new projects coming up and using our newly turfed garden! I’m the crazy one who writes the funny blackboards ☺
In my spare time I enjoy singing and playing the piano, as well as enjoying all of the culture that London, and especially super vibrant East London, has to offer.
ANGUS BARNACLE - Head Chef, The Gallery Cafè
Angus has a combined experience of 15 years of working in a string of highly successful eco-friendly and experimental restaurants from a pizza cottage in Wilunga South Australia to a organic vegetarian restaurant in The Hague Netherlands.
Having moved to London last year to further his Phd. research in algorithmic music composition, Angus joined the Gallery Café team where he puts his culinary creativity to work.
SIMONE BANDINI - Chef, The Gallery Cafè
Hello everyone, Gallery Cafè fans!
My name is Simone Bandini,I’m 22 years old , I come from Italy and I joined this exciting and beautiful crew in august 2014. It’s been quite a long time but this is a truly lovely place. I am a creative, enthusiastic, hardworking chef with a deep passion for food and lots of experience working in busy restaurants around Italy and England. At the age of 16 I started my adventure thanks to all the passion that my grandmothers gave to me about food and sharing it, and since then I have always known that being in a kitchen, preparing amazing food for others, is where I want to be.
LUCY EDMONDS - Barista, The Gallery Cafè
I've been working at the Gallery Cafe for about five months now and it's been amazing with showing me interesting recipes and in helping me transition from vegetarian to vegan.
Alongside this I am part time witch and psychic, fire performer and hoop artist, a musician and I dabble in costume and accessory making.
I love creating and indulging in loads of different worlds..
I spend most of the summer in festival fields, working, revelling and leaping uncontrollably. I'm currently working on set design for DSTRKT 5 at boomtown.
I'm always up for exploring creative ideas wherever I am so if anyone has any mad suggestions…… come and find me.
STEPH HIRST - Volunteer Art Curator, The Gallery Cafe
After graduating from an MA in Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University in partnership with the Design Museum, Steph's background is in museums and exhibitions. She has worked at St Margaret's House since October 2015 as the Art Curator for the monthly exhibitions in The Gallery Café. Her passions include art and design, live music and good food.
DIANA SERBAN -Communications & Administration Manager
I joined St. Margaret’s House at the beginning of 2016 after working in advertising for more than 7 years in Romania. I am very happy to be part of a warm, positive and fun team, willing and able to do wonderful projects for the community. We have some exciting plans for 2017 so make sure to check our website for updates on events, workshops, classes and other news.
When I'm not at work I'm taking photos, looking for bargains at antiques markets or mud larking along the Thames:)
FRANCESCA GRASSI- Graphic Designer
I've studied design in Milan and after working for more than 6 years in a creative studio, I moved to London to expand my horizon.I joined St.Margaret's House in March 2017 and I am very happy to be part of such a positive and welcoming team!
I'm a graphic designer with a passion for animals, philosophy and Italian food :)
LOTTI BLADES-BARRETT- Deputy Shop Manager, Ayoka / Social Media Coordinator
JOE HOOPER - Administrator
NATALIE JOELLE - Founder of the Gallery Cafe Book Club
Natalie Joelle is a doctoral researcher in English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and lecturer at Morley College, where she directs The Close Reading Room. She also helps to deliver library services at City University London.
Natalie read English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, followed by Cultural and Critical Studies at Birkbeck and art historical research at Madingley Hall. Her research on the agricultural and thinking practice of gleaning and its importance in contemporary culture is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She has convened The Gallery Café Book Club at St Margaret’s House for six years.
Further information about her work is available on Academia.edu and gleaning.info, and she can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMANDA TALSMA-WILLIAMS -‘Crafting is Connecting’ Coordinator , The 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.
GEORGE PARIS - Events Manager
Hi, I’ve been working at St. Margaret’s House since May 2015. Having studied music in Leeds, promoted events, played in bands (since before I can remember) and been an editor of a music magazine; I decided that the South would win the battle over the North for me.
As the events coordinator, I want to curate a diverse range of events every month that everyone will find something to love from. I am originally from Somerset and sticking to stereotypes, yes I know some of the best places to drink cider… in fact two! The community feel at St. Margaret’s House is fantastic and having found a place like this so quickly has been great - something I did not expect to find in the capital so easily.
NIGEL MACMILLAN - Community Engagement Manager, Ayoka
I have been working with a diverse group of 20 volunteers within St Margaret’s for almost 2 years.
Out reaching to our customers has been of great value. 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 reduction of the carbon footprint.
My ethos working and supporting my volunteers is simple : “Great place to work “ for us all.
I love to travel and catch up with friends and make the most of my time living in London. I enjoy reading and swim 6 days a week to unwind and stay fit .
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 diversity and rich 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.
I have 2 dogs and my daughter has one, and we are very lucky to be very close to Victoria Park where we go together every day.
BRENDA DAVIES - Volunteer Workshop Facilitator, The Create Place
I am a retired teacher and I've lived in the area for over 35 years. I felt I needed to do something for myself after years of teaching and so 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 who come along, I share my skills and work with others to try out new techniques and problem solve. I do like to ensure people have got the basics of working with wire and then they can branch off into wirework, pearl knotting, fabric jewellery etc. The sessions always seem to be fun and most people go away feeling they've achieved something, 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! I also volunteer at Tate Britain, enjoy visiting art galleries, theatre, reading and attending East End Women's Institute.