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Londoners, here’s an easy way to give back to the local community

The team at The Memo met up with three of our Dot London businesses who are giving back to their communities

With 8.7 million people living in the capital, it’s easy to forget London is a community too.

It doesn’t take hours of volunteering your time to ‘give back’, though. It’s where we put our money that matters.

These three social enterprise businesses are making a real difference to Londoners in need.

They’re truly the best London has to offer, and they all chose a Dot London web address to showcase why they’re proud to be operating in the capital.

Award-winning brownie bakers who happen to be homeless

The charity behind Rise Bakery in the East End of London started out as a soup kitchen more than 160 years ago, helping the disadvantaged in the area.

Times have moved on since then, but food is still at the heart of Providence Row.

Rise Bakery, based in Tower Hamlets, helps the homeless to get back on their feet by providing them with a stable job baking some of London’s most delicious brownies.

Mocha, orange and coconut, and white chocolate are some of their bestsellers – sold as birthday presents or corporate gifts.

“We didn’t want people to buy our products because they were made by the homeless. We wanted them to buy them based on their quality and flavour,” Dominic Gates, enterprise and training manager at Providence Row, told The Memo.

The award-winning brownies are made by people who may be on the streets or in temporary accommodation, and suffering from substance abuse problems or mental health issues.

The bakery provides them with the opportunity for work experience and support, whether they then go into catering or another job altogether.

“It is about breaking down that stigma of homeless people. They deserve as much of a chance as anyone else in life,” Gates said.

For women by women: fashion-forward clothing for the ethically-minded

If you’re honest, you know that popping into your high street shop to pick up a new item of clothing isn’t the most ethical of choices.

But when you’re faced with sky-high prices for nonexploitative fashion, what choice do you have?

Co-founder of Birdsong, Sophie Slater, was in exactly that position when she and her co-founder Sarah Beckett had a Eureka moment in 2014.

“We were working with different women’s charities and saw they were struggling to make ends meet. But the women had such great skills in crafting,” Slater told The Memo.

“We set up an online marketplace to sell their clothing, eventually growing to be able to design our own ranges from start to finish.”

From Brick Lane where domestically abused women produce the most intricate sewing to scarves knitted by a group of older women in Kingston, Birdsong is London through and through.

And as a London-based business, Birdsong proudly pays their workers the London Living Wage for their beautiful items.

Their customers can’t resist the stories behind the pieces, the wallet-friendly prices and the chance to support something they believe in.

“The clothing we make is made with real craftsmanship and love,” Slater said.

Birdsong set up four pop-up shops last year. Next on the agenda: opening their own permanent shop.

The vegan-friendly community café that’s nothing like you’d expect

Say the words “community café” and your mind might leap to a tepid 50p tea served in a polystyrene cup on a formica table.

In short, never would it cross your mind that it could look like the Central Street Café run by St Luke’s Community Centre in Islington.

It offers expertly roasted coffee and ethically-sourced food including daily hotpots, vegan and vegetarian options, and every Londoner’s staple: brunch.

But buying your £2.50 coffee here will go a long way towards helping the local community.

“It supports meals for the elderly people in the area – our lunch club for the over 55s costs a lot of money,” Amy Livermore, Central Street Café’s manager, told The Memo.

“So two and a half years ago, we decided to introduce a high street café that anyone can use.”

The money you spend at Central Street is plugged back into St Luke’s: covering the cost of their lunch club, nursery, employment hub, and much more

“If you’re looking to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and breakfast in a peaceful part of Islington, then know that the money you’re spending with us truly helps our local community. The more people spend the more it helps.” Livermore told us.

Choosing a Dot London web address is more than just signalling that you’re based in the capital.

It’s about showing that you’re part of London’s community, and you’re proud of your connection to the capital.

When there are hundreds of thousands of businesses out there, a Dot London web address is one way to stand out.

You can also try out their new interactive map showcasing some of the businesses using Dot London web addresses, as well as featuring handy tips from some of the capital’s growing small businesses.