Ilford celebrates Social Saturday at the Ilford Green Pop Up market 14 Oct

Social Saturday is a chance for socialBuy social enterprises to shout out loud about the fantastic work they do.  Social enterprises and the wider sector are encouraged to put on events, open their doors and invite their local politicians to find out more about their work.  Social Saturday is 14th October 2017.

Ilford pop up outside.JPG


Ilford’s monthly community and environmental hub, market & cafe is leading on Redbridge celebrations of  Social Saturday 2017. Sophia Hubs is a partner in this venture.

Come along to support some fabulous, local not for profit businesses: green pop up market bikesIlford Recycles,  Organic IlfordSkillademy and the Ilford Transition community cafe.

Join and enjoy Redbridge skill sharing and workshops:

  • Bring your broken bits & bobs and electricals and see if Hament  and Dilip can mend them (free) or get your bike repaired/serviced by Ilford Recycles
  • Planting winter veg /making paper pots  with  Commonwealth Gardeners
  • 11.30  am:  YouTube clips with Sobia Mahmud on solutions to the plastic problem including ‘the boy who saved  the  oceons’
  • 12.30 pm: Fermenting vegetables (from Organic  Ilford) with Begonia of Ilford Transition Town
  • 1 pm:  How to hair braid with Therese  of  Skillademy

And of course enjoy the market and cafe  …..


  • Browse the stalls:  natural cosmetics, jewelry,  upcycled crafts, cards, plants, bric a brac, bikes…
  • And buy homemade cakes, healthy veggie meals and fresh Ilford herb teas from the community cafe.

social saturday 2017

Come along on Saturday 14th October to the Ilford Green Pop Up Market, celebrate Social Saturday, join in, enjoy,  eat and bring  your friends 🙂 

For more info contact Begonia of Ilford Transition Town/ Sophia Hubs on or  07985 540786 or Ros on / 07957 534908

Ilford Green Pop Up market on Sat 9 Sept launches an environmental hub

Ilford Green Pop Up market, an environmental and community hub- Saturday 9th September 10-2 pm 

We’ve booked up 7 stalls plus all the following activities 🙂

  • Repair cafe run by two guys that love to mend things: Hement and Dilip. Bring along your broken electricals and bits and bobs and see if they can help.  No promises but let’s give it a try.
  • 10.30 am: Green You-tube clip of the month:  This month chosen by Shilpa on plastic oceans
  • 11.30 am: Cooking for health – demos and hands on: This month Julie on making green pop up market cafe queueKombucha
  • 12:30 pm:  Arts workshop – try out sketching with Ray McSharry
  • 1.30: Timebank skills sharing –  Intro to buying and selling on Ebay with Richard Joynson. (you’ll need to register with the London Timebank first or ring us on 07957 534908)
  • Give and take food table: this is to promote the food sharing app Olio
  • Veggie, tasty community cafe

After our meeting  last month on ‘The business of Greening Redbridge’  one of the outcomes was the need to have an environmental ‘hub’ in Redbridge.  We need a place where ideas and businesses/projects about the environment can be shared, the circular economy and what it means, to be more aware on our environmental choices. So while Sophia Hubs and partners explore that idea, we will know that the market is a meeting place for green minded people so we build up the mini hub the market has already started.

As usual if you would like to get involved in any way, please contact Ros or Begonia. 07957 534908 / 07985 540786.

Things have gone a little quiet at Sophia Hubs now that Ros has left as Coordinator and the Board is drawing up the new business plan.  But in the meantime our volunteer team are working on developing this little gem in the heart of Ilford. 🙂

ilford green pop up market

Week international course for youth organisations and workers. Funded. 2-10 Sept. Bucks.

We are delighted to promote an Erasmus international partnership-building course for organisations working with youth.   This is being organised by Redbridge start-up social enterprise Act 4 Grants.  Adrian Gheorghe had over 10 years experience of running such trainings before establishing his social enterprise.

2nd – 16th September, residential, Buckinghamshire.

Adrian GheorgeThe main goal of the project is to organize an international Partnership-building-Activity in which will be involved 45 youth leaders, youth workers and NGO representatives coming from 14 different countries across Europe. The countries are: UK, Malta, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.

The international Partnership-building-Activity will ensure the professional and organizational development, and the fostering of new partnerships and projects.

The event will ensure the professional and organizational development, and the fostering of new partnerships and projects making a big impact in our communities.

The international event will be based on non formal education, learning-by-doing methods and inter cultural dialogue and communication that will be conducted by using an interactive and participatory approach. 

Adrian Gheorge

For more information see this pdf document. Call Participants-Homogeneous Youth course 2-10 Sept 2107 London.


Sophia Hubs changes. Sad news. Good news.

Sad news, good news….

Ola AsgillAs Chair of the Board, I am passing on the sad news and the good news. The sad news is that our wonderful Coordinator over the past 3 years is leaving. Ros has a new community development job in Newham starting in August.
We are indebted to Ros for her work in building up and embedding Sophia Hubs and our community development approach into Redbridge community and business life. Her tireless and inspiring networking and nurturing qualities have been outstanding.
The good news is that Sophia Hubs is moving into a new phase.  We hope to recruit for new paid roles late Autumn but in the meantime are offering volunteer roles as Coordinator, social media, marketing and admin. And Ros will join the Board with responsibility for green economy development and the Timebank.
We are going to miss Ros’s drive and enthusiasm but lucky she has agreed to join the board and continue her good work.    We hope she will play a pivotal roll in mentoring her successor.
In the interim, if any one would like to volunteer for the Coordinator role or other roles, please free to contact me at  The main Sophia Hubs email will now be
Ros is doing a final weekly email update on Friday and by this time we hope to have set  the date for our next business and community networking event and this will double up as a leaving do and ‘thank you’ for Ros
Ola Asgill.
ros-southern“I have absolutely loved working for Sophia Hubs on my patch doing the things I like doing:  tapping into the good will and skills of the (business) community to help start-ups, building up all sorts of cross sector collaborations and practical ideas/solutions. I have met the most wonderful people in Redbridge. I am pleased to know that I will stay in touch as I live here and will remain involved with Sophia Hubs, but in a different capacity.
My new job is in community development in Plaistow – supporting residents to come up with ideas and plans for green spaces. It’s part of a bigger community development programme and I’m looking forward to it.  It should be a little easier and less pressured and give me new experience of things I can bring back to Redbridge.
Also, at long last, I may have time to build up my mini business!  I’ve learnt so much at Sophia Hubs that I’ve got no excuse but to make it a roaring success! ;).  I haven’t touched the website for 3 years – but it’s here if you’re interested.



Barkingside Festival celebrates Independent shops in style on 4th July 2017

Step by step guide to Indie Redbridge shops getting involved

The problem:

  1. Independent shops are not treasured and find it difficult to compete with chains Catwalk dog jumping in pooland online sales.
  2. Independent Retail Day and Month is an opportunity to help indie shops but it has not been celebrated in Redbridge recently
  3. Barkingside’s lovely town square, the Ken Aston square by the library, has not been used for community events although that was part of the agreement to having it built
  4. Only 2 shops turned up when council business liaison officer Daniel Moore called a meeting for Barkingside shop keepers earlier in the year.

The glimmers of hope:

  1. Harvey Sharpe a Barkingside resident – tireless campaigner for Ken Aston Square to Ana Melanie Harveybe used and he knows EVERY shop keeper on the High Street personally – he welcomes every new shop keeper and keeps in touch 🙂
  2. Ana Amika Pindoria, owner of Hi-Juice tutoring and business coaching on the High Street, wants to help independent shops to develop their businesses to make them more successful.  She’s up for helping with the event
  3. Barkingside business hub set up in January in the friendly, indie Chequers pub and created energy and interest in Barkingside. They are up for  it.
  4. Vision are willing to work through the barriers to community groups running events on the Square
  5. Barkingside has loads of independent shops

What we did:

  1. Created our vision- shops on the square, food, activities, fun, entertainment, energy, Sambal stall is busynetworking, finding new customers, building community spirit
  2. Engaged indie shops in our vision: walked, talked, encouraged, lots of positive energy, regular updates, keeping in touch
  3. Publicity: Nice flyers, brochure for promotion (paid), great Recorder feature and photo
  4. Pulled the event together: music, site services,  electricity,  involved partners, promotion

What the indie shops did!

  1. They organised extra staff, came up with activities on the square, sold lovely food, gave away free food,  ran demos, networked
  2. They were: Arabella – House of Beautiful hair, Catwalk Pets and Aquatics, Chequers Pub, Coffee Time – coffees, pastries, cakes, smoothies, ice creams, Elite Vision – designer frames and expert eye care, Eye Candie –exclusive fashion boutique, Fully Floral –  flowers for every occasion, Get Smart – we really care about student success, Hi-Juice – helping business owners find the right ingredients for  their success, Patricija – Lithuanian delicatessen with speciality meats and cheeses, Sambal –  Sri Lankan and South African cuisine. (will add links later)

Some results:

  1. Know other shop keepers  – will go  into each others shops now
  2. Got information about reducing costs by recycling
  3. The Police will have their cup of tea with residents in Coffee Time and not Costa!
  4. Good chance of having found new customers and increased profile
  5. Feel more part of Barkingisde life and Barkingside business community
  6. Want to do it again.

See the video:

And the promotional brochure of 10 fabulous independent shops on Barkingside: 

Barkingside Indie shops brochure


Ilford Green Pop Up market and hub launches new green activities Sat 9 Sept


green pop up market afrocessories-stall

As the summer holidays are upon us and some of us are going away, we have decided to take a break in August from the Ilford Pop up market. Recycles will be there on Saturday 12th August 10-2pm to support you on your cycle requirements.


The market will be back in September bigger and better! We’ve come up with a few new ideas and we’d like to try them out. We’re re-branding and will be including environmental workshops, cooking demos and repairs on a regular basis.

Ilford Green Pop Up market, an environmental and community hub- Saturday 9th September 10-2pm

  • Repair cafe run by two guys that love to mend things: Hemen and Dilip
  • 10.30 am: Green You-tube clip of the month:  This month chosen by Sobia (tbc)
  • 11.30 am: Cooking for health – demos and hands on: This month Julie on making green pop up market cafe queueKombucha
  • 12:30 pm: Timebank skills sharing:  to be confirmed
  • Give and take food table: this is to promote the food sharing app Olio
  • green and craft stalls
  • Veggie, tasty community cafe

After the meeting  last month on ‘The business of Greening Redbridge’  one of the outcomes was the need to have an environmental ‘hub’ in Redbridge.  We need a place where ideas and projects about the environment can be shared, the circular economy and what it means, to be more aware on our environmental choices..  So while Sophia Hubs and partners explore that idea, we will know that the market is a meeting place for green minded people so we build up the mini hub the market has already started.

As usual if you would like to get involved in any way, please contact Ros or Begonia.

Ilford green pop up market flyer

The time is nigh for Redbridge to commit to the green economy: verdict of our cross sector networking event

Green business flyer headingWe were pleased with a big cross-sector turnout for our Business of Greening Redbridge event and we reckon it could be the start of something significant. The feeling of the meeting was that The Time is Nigh for Redbridge to commit to, and benefit from,  a vibrant, green and circular economy.

The Speakers…

  • We found out from Joni Cunningham, CEO, that the Redbridge Institute have made sizeable cuts to their running costs by reducing energy consumption.  Anagat of Archant thought this would be a message that businesses would want to heargreen business event Nnenna speech
  • Sharon Strutt, Head of Regeneration at Redbridge Council promised that smaller businesses in Redbridge would get the opportunity to tender for Council contracts. This was well received by Rosie of Eco Cleaning Services.
  • Ross Alleway,  McDonalds Manager gave an amazing speech on the environmental credentials of McDonalds –  it was felt this good practice needs to be shared with businesses
  • Nnenna Anyanwu explained ‘cradle to cradle’ production and the ‘circular economy’ which was new to almost everyone there.  She said that the environmental issues are an ‘inconvenient truth’ but that we have to make radical changes to how we do things.  Chris Elliot of Recycles Ilford said that although this seems radical, it makes total economic sense for the Borough.

The discussions…

Flip - how can Redbridge benefitHow can Redbridge benefit from the Green/Circular Economy? – Save money, save resources, lower Council expenditure, create jobs, re-use resources, learn skills (mending/repairing), educate future generations, pool resources, diversify supply chains, increase civic pride, clean environment, wildlife conservation

green business event networkingHow might you use an environmental hub? – Central place of information/updates, network groups centre, starting point for businesses and how they can contribute ideas, promotion of green projects/good practice, showcase of excellence, place of education (business, home, schools),  central point for community champions, act as a collective voice.   To be both a real and an online hub with forums, Facebook, WhatsApp etc

green business event group discussionWhat would it take for your business/group/organisation to make changes? – Showcase of successes, accessible engagement and education (simple), make it easier to do the right thing, commute results, incentives – reduce costs – e.g. what can be saved on lighting costs, creating champions, taking the first step then monitoring the impact

See the video…

The next steps…

Sophia Hubs will explore with Nnenna Anyanwu funding to pilot an environmental business and community hub.  We are sharing ideas and comments from the attendees, and can add your name too.   We will set up a 2nd meeting once we have  secured Council support for bringing the green and circular economy into its economic strategy. Sophia Hubs is developing the Ilford Green Pop Up market to take on some suggestions from the event, starting from 9th September.

And please do complete the Councils economic growth strategy survey and put in everything you can think of that could be included that’s green.

And  here’s a comment from Sharon Strutt, Redbridge Council: It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet some of the borough’s green businesses and the passion for making more of the circular economy.   The message about sustainability came across very strongly and will need to be reflected within the emerging strategy.  I gained a wide range of perspectives on issues from eco homes, cycling networks and recycling right the way through to ensuring small, creative and co-operative businesses have the opportunity to find affordable co-working space.

Please message or email if you want to be included in the continuing discussions and ideas taking place between attendees of this event.

Ros Southern and Begona Belmonte


Find an unused space – run a community festival in Redbridge!

Boy chalking bike Mini Green Fair

Well  done to Redbridge Green Fair and Redbridge Music Lounge for organising a fab event in Barkingside Town Square, (Ken Aston Square) yesterday!

Sophia Hubs has been working with Barkingside residents, shops and community/business groups, Vision and the Council to hold a festival on 4th July to promote Independent Retail Day and Barkingside High Street

Ken Aston Square is now 3 years old and so far there have been very few events, which we see as a waste of resources and opportunities.  Alongside Redbridge Green Fair and Redbridge Music Lounge, we have been identifying and working through the  barriers to using the Square for local community and business events.

Please do support our event on Tuesday 4th July if you can.   The shops are making their way to the Town Square to engage with the public and each other. There will be great selection of food from local shops and also stalls. 🙂

Barkingside flyer V2

Tech Ilford takes over Ilford Library on Saturday including Google help

Hub CentralIt’s London Tech week  and once again Redbridge Central Library will become the centre of innovation on Saturday.

Saturday 17th June 2017

Google Digital Garage event

With the launch of Lab Central you can 3-d print, code your first animation, experience a  virtual reality journey and much more. Of particular interest to start-ups and community groups, the Google Digital Garage is running from 11-1pm.

Here’s the programme  

And the official launch of Hub Central (business support and co-working space), Lab Central and Redbridge Heritage Centre is  on Monday 19th June 1-3 with food, drinks, info and networking.  Sophia Hubs will be there.



Amanda local potter start-up looking for kiln to use

Amanda FisherJust sitting in Redbridge Institute cafe and up comes Amanda with a query….

I’d really like to move forward with my dream of selling my pottery.   I can’t afford a kiln at this stage and wonder if there is one I could share/rent locally?  Happy to contribute to running  costs etc.

Happy to pass this request on.   We are inspired by the potential of  sharing resources in the Borough which  of course includes skills. 🙂  The venue would  have to have step free access.

Amanda has experimented with a blog which she will be improving but you could take a look at some of her pics and pottery.

Hope to hear some good news on this soon!  If you could contact us rather than Amanda.