Patchwork Foundation: providing a sense of family for young people

Harris Bokhari OBE (Maths and Management 1999) on making positive change.

Interview: Megan Welford / Photography: Hannah Maule-ffinch

Portrait of Harris Bokhari OBE

Original Article on this link

It’s easy to identify the inspiration behind my charity, the Patchwork Foundation – my father, Naz Bokhari. After his death in 2011, my sister, Hina, and I mapped out all that he had achieved and what would complement it. We started the Naz Legacy to promote education and integration, and the Patchwork Foundation came out of it. The aim is to connect disadvantaged young people, who are often locked out of society, with civic life.

My father was the first Muslim headmaster in the UK, at Ernest Bevin College, a secondary school in Tooting, and we were amazed at just how loved and respected he was. In the last two days he was in hospital before he died, we sent out an open invitation and a thousand people came to visit. He’d always been so low-key – he drove us into Buckingham Palace one day to get his OBE as if we were going on just another trip.

We grew up in Epsom, Surrey, where we were the only non-white family, and spent weekends in north London, Birmingham or Leicester setting up chairs in community halls or organising sports. We drank weak lemon squash and ate rice and mince from Tupperware containers. It was fun for us – we didn’t know we were participating in community events and helping people. But our father brought us up to give back, to try to make positive change in our environment.

I am so lucky to have had my father’s love and that my mother is my shoulder to cry on. In the Patchwork Foundation, we try to provide that sense of family for young people. Individuals provide the spark, but family is what allows you to achieve something. My dad advised me to become an accountant (rather than a teacher like everyone else in my family), and for that I am grateful. It allows me to do what I do, and I love it. I’ve always been comfortable with numbers – I like things to add up. Lots of things in society don’t add up, like me having a full fridge when others don’t.

Sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming, so I keep handwritten thank-you notes people have given me in my pocket. When someone says, “I’m alive because of you”, you know why you do what you do.

Harris Bokhari OBE won Imperial’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020.

Distinguished Alumni Award: 2020 winner Harris Bokhari

Harris has a simple aim in life: to make the world a fairer and better place. He does this through his charities – the Patchwork Foundation and the Naz Legacy Foundation – as well as his work as an advisor to senior figures in the British government.

Harris leads what some might consider a double life. “There’s a running joke in my house that, when I leave in the morning, my family asks if I’m going for my paid work or non-paid work,” he says with a smile.

His paid work is as an accountant, which is how he supports his family and philanthropic work. However, he devotes far more of his time to voluntary projects, which have earned him numerous awards including an OBE.

The wide variety of projects he’s involved in means that, more often than not, the answer to his family’s question is that he’s going to one of his voluntary projects.

Since leaving Imperial, where he studied Mathematics, Harris has established two charities: the Patchwork Foundation and the Naz Legacy Foundation, which was set up in memory of his late father.

He is also involved in many other projects, including Mosaic, the Prince of Wales’ mentoring charity, and as a voluntary member of the Community, Voluntary and Local Services Honours Committee.

Learning to listen

Mentoring is a cornerstone of the work he does. “Mentoring is key to making society a fairer place, whether that’s to raise aspirations or share learning experiences. I think for young people nowadays, it’s also about listening to them,” he asserts.

For Harris, mentoring isn’t a one-way street: “I know as a mentor that you always learn a lot more from the person you are mentoring than they get from you.”

When he was studying for his BSc in Mathematics with Management at Imperial, he had a mentor of his own. “I was fortunate to find a PhD student who decided to take me under their wing,” he says.

“They not only helped me in regards to lectures and my coursework, but they also encouraged me to get involved in a range of student societies. I’m happy to say that, since graduating, we’ve remained good friends.”

Harris talks very fondly of his time studying at Imperial, and especially about the friendships and relationships he formed there.

“I’m very lucky that a lot of the close friends I made at Imperial are the closest friends that I still have today. Imperial gave me a great opportunity to meet interesting people from across the world,” he says.

In fact, it was one of Imperial’s international alumni who inspired Harris to apply to the university: Abdus Salam.

“My father was born in Pakistan. When I was growing up, he would tell me about the achievements of Abdus Salam, who became the first Pakistani to be awarded the Nobel Prize in the sciences. He’d talk about how he was globally recognised for his work in Mathematics at Imperial,” he explains.

A positive early influence

Harris’ father and mother have been hugely influential in the path he’s taken, particularly in terms of fostering interfaith links and providing support to underrepresented groups, even though he admits he didn’t always realise it growing up.

Naz Bokhari OBE, Harris’ late father, has a legacy of his own. He was the first Muslim and Asian head teacher of a secondary school in the UK. He was not only a leading figure in the British Muslim community, but also in many interfaith organisations.

“As far as my sister and I were concerned, our father was just a great dad. Sadly, we didn’t realise the impact he made until he passed away, when we suddenly received letters from the former and current prime minister and a lot of different faith leaders. It was only at that point that we realised the impact he had made on the country,” he says.

Harris’ childhood is filled with memories of people and places associated with different faiths.

His parents were always introducing him and his sister to people of different faiths, encouraging them to visit various places of worship and read about faiths other than their own, and taking them to help at charitable causes on the weekends. Often this voluntary work centred on deprived minority communities. This “brainwashing”, as Harris affectionately calls it, is the foundation for everything he’s done since.

While he was at Imperial, Harris says it felt natural to provide support to foreign students from Muslim countries and help them make the most of college life while being observant to their faith.

Helping young people find their voice

After graduating, his passion for helping and supporting others grew, and in 2011 he founded the Patchwork Foundation.

This charity has helped over 40,000 young people from communities that are typically underrepresented in UK politics, raising their aspirations and equipping them with vital life skills. But it all started with Harris’ experience as a mentor.

“I’ve been very fortunate to mentor young people from underrepresented communities, and a lot of them felt locked out of the democratic process and society as a whole,” he explains. It was this realisation that led to Patchwork, which started with five young people who Harris had mentored through other organisations like the Prince’s Trust.

Many of the young people who have come through Patchwork – known as ‘Patchworkers’ – now have jobs in the civil service, working everywhere from Downing Street to City Hall, as well as at some of the leading firms in the UK.

When asked what he’s most proud of, Harris doesn’t hesitate: “Definitely the young people I’ve worked with, especially the ones who have had the greatest personal struggles.”

“When I see them turn around not only their lives, but also their families’ lives, and see them giving back to the same vulnerable young people they used to be two or three years ago, it motivates me. I’m proud of them, what they’ve taught me and what they’re still teaching me.”

Making an impact

Through his charity work, Harris has fostered interfaith links between communities across the UK. He has also had the opportunity to work with many MPs and permanent secretaries, as well as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Over the years, he has provided advice that, in some cases, has helped to shape government policy.

“Having a positive influence on policy and the actions of leaders through my charity work always motivates me and pushes me to want to do more,” he says. “But I think more importantly, it encourages the young people around you to see that they can make a difference.”

This isn’t without its challenges though. “I think the problem is that we live in a society where people demand instant results, so the hardest thing is to explain that positive things will happen, but you’ve got to be patient,” he adds.

One example of this is Harris’ work with the Community, Voluntary and Local Services Honours Committee. He’s been an independent member since 2017 and has been actively working to encourage better representation on the Honours list.

“The Honours system is a great way to recognise people who deserve recognition for their voluntary and charitable work, but we need to encourage better representation. We have to explain to the public that it’s an open process and that we need more people from underrepresented communities to be nominated if we’re going to see better representation in the future,” he explains.

Harris also takes great pride in seeing the impact that his Patchwork graduates are having on the country. “A lot of these young people are now either designing or implementing policy as civil servants, enriching the biggest firms in the City, or volunteering to support the most vulnerable people in their local communities,” he says with pride.

Growing the family

Family is a thread that runs strongly through Harris’ life. “I was very privileged to have two great parents. But you only realise how great your parents are when you meet young people who don’t have great parents or even any parents at all. We have the ethos within Patchwork and the Naz Legacy Foundation that we’re a family,” he says.

Harris reveals that there are Patchworkers in almost every government department, who provide support to those coming through a few years behind them. “This family, this network, continues beyond the programme,” he states.

It’s this idea that things will continue to improve without him that helps motivate him: “I’m very keen to make sure that, in all the charitable endeavours and voluntary work I’m involved in, when I leave the system is better and there are better people in place to take it further and improve it.”

Harris wants to spend more time with his family and always wants to make sure that the projects he engages with are sustainable and transferable. “I believe in being surplus to requirements,” he explains.

Harris Bokhari graduated from Imperial with a BSc in Mathematics with Management in 1999. He was a winner of the Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2020.

Diversity activist gets alumni award

Original article published on 6th February 2020 in the Eastern Eye:

DIVERSITY activist Harris Bokhari OBE has won the inaugural Imperial College Distinguished Alumni award, it was announced last week.

Bokhari, founder and trustee at the Patchwork Foundation, received the award from Imperial College London.

The award is given to alumni of the institute who have demonstrated “sustained and outstanding personal and professional achievements or contributions in their field(s) over a number of years”.

The campaigner has been recognised for his “relentless commitment” to working with young people, raising their aspirations and achievements through organisations such as the Naz Legacy Foundation.

Bokhari said: “Imperial College has produced a great many notable alumni over the years, which makes me even more honoured to have received this award. My upbringing and my education gave me a set of values that has defined who I have become today, and I hope to pass those values on to the next generation.”

Harris Bokhari wins Faith and Belief Forum’s inspirational individual award

Original article published on 27 November 2018

Harris Bokhari wins Faith and Belief Forum’s inspirational individual award for services to and for faith and belief communties in London – making a lasting contribution to the life of our city

Londoners working to serve their communities and bring people from different backgrounds together were recognised at the London Faith & Belief Community Awards on Tuesday 27 November. 40 projects run by individuals and organisations, inspired by their faiths or beliefs to make a difference, were given awards for their work in areas ranging from inspiring youth and wellbeing to interfaith relations and inclusion.

The Awards are an initiative of the Faith & Belief Forum, supported by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith. The Awards aim to shine a light on the great work done by ordinary people to make London a city where everyone belongs and feels welcome – work that often goes unrecognised. Each winning project is given £500 to further their work.

The award ceremony at the Royal Society of Medicine brought together organisations and individuals from across London who work tirelessly in their local communities for harmony and inclusion. In addition to the 40 projects given awards, the achievements of several inspiring individuals were recognised, and the great work of a further 66 projects highlighted.

Phil Champain, the Director of the Faith & Belief Forum:

“If we are to truly extend the benefits of our city to all, then we need to ensure that all Londoners get fair access to services, we need to alleviate deprivation, reduce social tension and promote inclusion. The fact that so many relatively small and modest organisations made up of people of different faiths and non-religious beliefs collaborate to achieve these aims gives hope and inspiration.”

Dr David Dangoor DL, Chair of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith:

“The London Faith & Belief Community Awards is a wonderful demonstration of what people motivated by their faith or belief can achieve for this city. By shining a light on their work, this event promotes and connects the unsung heroes of London’s faith and belief communities. This event also gives them access to further support which may enhance their work and inspire others to take action.”

Harris Bokhari wins Diversity Leadership Award

Team Mosaic win big at GG2 Diversity Leadership Awards 2018!

Original article published on 25 October 2018 on Mosaic

Established as the premier awards for inclusion, diversity and leadership the GG2 Diversity Leadership Awards took place last night, celebrating its 20th anniversary, and saw two senior members of Mosaic walking away as winners.

The event held at the Park Plaza Westminister Bridge saw over 700 guests from an array of sectors come together. Those in attendance – from senior politicians, influential business leaders, and military personnel to those from the arts, film, TV and sport – together celebrated and recognised Britain’s most enterprising and talented BAME high achievers.

Amongst those recognised on the night were Mosaic’s very own Harris Bokhari OBE and Naheed Afzal.

Mosaic Advisory Board member Harris Bokhari OBE was awarded The Eastern Eye’s Editor’s Award 2018 for his remarkable work and continued contribution in helping young BME’s progress and grow through the work of The Patchwork Foundation, of which he is founder.

Taking home the Inspire Award, supported by the British Army on the night was Mosaic London Regional Leadership Group Member Naheed Afzal. Leveling the playing field for recruitment, Naheed was recognised for her work as co-founder of Contracts IT; leading many more women and ethnic minorities into traditionally male dominated professions. The award is presented to an individual for outstanding work in the community, which has served to inspire young people.

Senior Head of Mosaic and Community Integration, Nizam Uddin who attended the special evening said:

“We couldn’t be prouder of Harris and Naheed tonight. To have their continued support for Mosaic over all these years has been a real privilege and a cornerstone to our successes; they are truly deserved winners. We are in the business of creating a generation of new role models, and I can’t think of two better examples for our young people to look up to.

Many congratulations also to the GG2 Awards, and in particular the Solanki family, for their continued efforts over the decades to promote inclusion, diversity and leadership across all communities and all sectors.”

In total, 14 awards were presented on the night amongst which were: Imran Khan QC, who fought for justice in the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence and currently involved in the Grenfell inquiry, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitican Police, Neil Basu and Home Secretary The Rt Hon. Sajid Javid MP.

Mosaic Board Member Harris Bokhari OBE wins Diversity Champion of the Year

Original article published on 3 July 2018 on Mosaic

Harris Bokhari OBE

Yesterday saw the first ever National Democracy Awards held at the People’s History Museum in Manchester as part of marking the start of National Democracy Week.

Winners on the day included Mosaic Board Member Harris Bokhari OBE, who received the first Diversity Champion Award for his work as Founder of the Patchwork Foundation. The award is presented to an individual or organisation that has increased diversity in our democratic process and electoral systems, supporting others to have their say.

Since founding Patchwork, the not for profit organisation has gone on to help over 40,000 people from diverse communities engage in the democratic process through town hall events and master classes with senior political figures and voting campaigns. The Patchwork Foundation helps to engage under-represented, deprived and minority communities within British society through exposure and engagement into the political environment.

On his win Harris Bokhari said: “It was a real honour to be awarded the Diversity Champion Award as part of the inaugural National Democracy Week. It is vital that our democracy, politics and British institutions are diverse and reflect the society we live in. I am humbled to accept the award on behalf of all the Patchworkers, who inspire me each and every day, who have enriched my life and who are continuing to make our democracy inclusive for all.”te 

Harris Bokhari OBE

The awards ceremony has been held to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act, which gave women equal voting rights and kicks off celebrations for National Democracy Week.

The awards recognise the exceptional work of individuals and organisations that work tirelessly to increase democratic engagement in the UK.

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, The Secretary of State for Transport and the elected Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell said about the award: “Harris Bokhari does a fantastic job to encourage young people, particularly from less-engaged communities, to become involved in our democracy. This award is really well deserved.” The Rt Hon David Lidington CBE MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, added: “Colleagues from all political parties in Parliament admire the work of the Patchwork Foundation. Many congratulations to Harris on a much deserved award”.

Harris Bokhari OBE, named as Diversity Champion of the Year

Champions of our democracy’ announced at the National Democracy Week Awards

Winners of first ever National Democracy Week Awards announced

Original press release published on 2 July 2018

Today (Monday 2 July), winners of the first ever National Democracy Week Awards were announced at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

The awards ceremony has been held to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act, which gave women equal voting rights and kicks off celebrations for National Democracy Week.

The awards recognise the exceptional work of individuals and organisations that work tirelessly to increase democratic engagement in the UK.

Six winners were awarded titles for the following categories:

Harris Bokhari OBE, Patchwork Foundation – Diversity Champion of the Year:

  • This award is for an individual or organisation that has increased diversity in our democratic process and electoral systems, supporting others to have their say.
  • Harris founded the Patchwork Foundation, which has helped over 40,000 people from diverse communities engage in the democratic process through town-hall events and masterclasses with senior political figures and voting campaigns.

Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith said:

The first ever National Democracy Awards are the ideal opportunity to celebrate the champions of our democracy across the country who have displayed pioneering efforts to increase democratic engagement.

The winners of all four awards, and those who were shortlisted, should be proud of what they’ve achieved to improve understanding of our democracy for thousands of young people.

Harris Bokhari short listed for first ever National Democracy Week Awards

The democratic pioneers shortlisted for first ever National Democracy Week Awards

Today, the government is pleased to announce the names of the candidates who have been shortlisted to win one of the first ever National Democracy Week awards.

Original press release published on 28 June 2018

The National Democracy Week Awards will be held for the first time next Monday 2 July at the People’s Museum in Manchester, to kick off celebrations for National Democracy Week.

The awards recognise pioneering individuals and organisations who have demonstrated exceptional service in increasing democratic engagement in the UK. Nominees have been shortlisted across four national categories:

Young Advocate of the Year Award:

  • Staffordshire’s UK Youth Parliament Representatives for democratic services to young people in the region
  • Rachael Farrington from South London for democratic services in launching Voting Counts website
  • Matteo Bergami from Stanmore for founding, a platform to engage young people in the political process
  • Dan Lawes from Manchester for promoting youth voter registration

Diversity Champion of the Year Award:

  • Easton and Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Management (Up Our Street) for helping give its diverse community a voice in politics
  • Harrow Mencap for helping to empower people with learning disabilities to engage with politicians and candidates
  • Harris Bokhari from Epsom for his drive to engage diverse communities in the political process
  • Sara Livadeas from Oxford for her campaign to help people in care homes vote

Changemaker of the Year Award:

  • Mehala Osborne from Bristol for her campaign to help domestic abuse survivors register to vote
  • 50:50 Parliament #AskHerToStand for their campaign to increase the number of female candidates for Parliament
  • My Life My Say for opening cafes nationwide where young people can engage in political discussion in a safe space
  • Harriet Andrews from Manchester for running digital surgeries to connect young people with their elected representatives

Collaboration of the Year Award:

  • The People’s History Museum in Manchester for working with communities to tell the story of the fight for LGBT+ rights
  • Situation Novoville in the West Midlands for using innovative online chat interfaces to engage the public in digital services
  • National Adult Learners’ Forum (Scotland) for promoting adult learning services in disadvantaged communities in Scotland.

National Democracy Week is being held in July to coincide with and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act – a further historic constitutional milestone which granted equal voting rights to men and women.

Over the course of the week, a series of nationwide events are being held by charities and community groups across the country, aimed at inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in democracy.

Winners of the awards will be announced next Monday 2 July.

Further details on National Democracy Week can be found here.

Harris Bokhari invited to attend United States IVLP Countering Violent Extremism

Harris Bokhari was just one of seven experts, and one of only two Muslims from the UK invited by the United States Department of State to attend their premier International Visitor Leadership Program about “Community Partnership to Counter Violent Extremism, from September 3 – 23rd 2017.

Watch some highlights from the program:

Harris Bokhari named in The Progress 1000: London’s most influential people 2016 – Equality Champions

Original article published on 17 September 2016 in the Evening Standard

Duchess of Cornwall


Unstuffy and unaffected in a family for whom protocol is central, the future king’s consort has won an unlikely array of fans, from staunch republican Alastair Campbell to Katie Price. The duchess is also a feminist and has put that at the forefront of her royal duties, visiting centres for victims of rape and sexual assault and talking about FGM. She is president of the South Bank’s Women of the World Festival.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Chief executive, Save the Children

The real Birgitte Nyborg — she was prime minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015 — now heads up the children’s charity in London. She calls it her “dream job” and has long promoted education, working with the UN. She is married to Stephen Kinnock, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and become a Labour MP.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge


Is there a couple in the world who excite more interest than the Cambridges? Both keen conservationists, William and Catherine are harnessing their celebrity to key campaigns to save species threatened by extinction. They toured India and Bhutan this year and visited the Kaziranga national park, where they fed rhinos and elephants. With Prince Harry, they are also spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health.

Livia Firth

Anti-slavery campaigner

She’s best known as Colin Firth’s glamorous Italian wife (a title she is proud of, once asking: “Does it make any of us less of a feminist because we’re someone’s wife?”) but Firth is an industrious campaigner against slavery in the supply chain. A documentary producer, she is also creative director of brand consultancy Eco-Age, asking us all to question our rapacious consumption.

Harris Bokhari

Founder, Naz Legacy Foundation

Bokhari has raised more than £1 million through a foundation named after his father Naz, the first Muslim headteacher of a British secondary school. Its diversity project engages poor communities with culture and politics, regularly taking young people to No 10 and parliament. Bokhari was awarded an OBE in last summer’s Queen’s birthday honours.

Catherine Mayer

Co-founder, Women’s Equality Party

A journalist and author of a very unofficial Prince Charles biography, Mayer set up the Women’s Equality Party last year with Sandi Toksvig. The party came sixth in the London mayoral race, beating George Galloway. She considers the WEP, led by Sophie Walker, to be a “wake-up call for Westminster”.

Jem Stein

Founder, The Bike Project

The phrase “get on your bike” has a softer ring to it when said in conjunction with this social entrepreneur. Founder of The Bike Project, which recycles unwanted bikes and gives them to refugees, Stein won the Lloyds Bank social entrepreneur of the year award in 2015. Over the past three years his project has donated more than 1,200 bikes to refugees, enabling mobility both geographically and socially. 

Baroness Lawrence 


Mayor Sadiq Khan has described his old friend as a “true inspiration” to Londoners. Lawrence, who was made a Labour peer in 2013, has campaigned tirelessly against racism and knife crime after her son, Stephen, was murdered

in 1993 at the age of 18. The foundation set up in his name runs training programmes and bursaries to help young black people join the professions.

Andy Ryan

Founder and director, Stellar Libraries and Cityread

A librarian who DJs and loves to party, Ryan has raised £1.2 million for the capital’s temples of the mind. After being made redundant from London Libraries in 2010, she set up Stellar Libraries, the UK’s only creative agency that designs campaigns to promote and celebrate literature and libraries. She also launched Cityread, which encourages Londoners to read a chosen book — always set in the capital — every April. This year’s choice was Ten Days by Gillian Slovo, based on the 2011 riots.

Aneeta Prem

Human rights campaigner 

A magistrate turned campaigner, Prem founded the charity Freedom, which fights to end modern-day slavery, forced marriage, so-called honour crimes and FGM. Prem is carrying on the work of her father, who set up a free college to educate girls in India. She has also written two books: But It’s Not Fair, about forced marriage, and Cut Flowers, about FGM, and donated 50,000 copies of her books to young people.

Henry Dimbleby

Co-founder, Leon

With Leon’s superfood salads and chicken hot boxes, Dimbleby has transformed how Londoners do lunch al desko. He’s also brought the same healthy eating mission to schools, leading the Government’s review of what children are served. Refined carbs are banned at his own table. Dimbleby, whose father is the BBC broadcaster David and mother is cookery writer Josceline, co-founded London Union, which transforms empty spaces into street food markets.

Nimko Ali

Anti-FGM campaigner and co-founder, Daughters of Eve 

“Just a girl with amazing hair and a laptop … who has changed legislation in this country.” That was how Caitlin Moran described Ali, as she crowned the anti-FGM campaigner her woman of the year. Ali, who was a child refugee, also campaigns for the internationally displaced. Her feminist book, Rude, will be out next year.

Jemima Goldsmith


The Goldsmith dynasty’s daughter is an activist and journalist. Outspoken, she even criticised her own brother’s campaign for London mayor. She posted £20,000 towards bail for Julian Assange six years ago, but then hit out at the “cultish devotion” shown to the WikiLeaks co-founder.

John Caudwell


He may dress in Versace and own a 50-room Jacobean mansion, but Caudwell is also Britain’s biggest individual taxpayer and a mega-philanthropist to boot. The Phones4U founder doesn’t want his children to be trust fund kids — instead he aims to “leave two billion to charity, maybe three or four”. He spoke last year about his family’s battles with Lyme disease, and he has set up a charity to research the condition.

Cherie Booth


Reaching 136,000 women in 90 countries, the Cherie Blair Foundation helps female entrepreneurs in emerging markets. The wife of former prime minister Tony Blair, Booth, a leading silk, has now left the human rights practice Matrix Chambers for Omnia Strategy, her own international consultancy which advises governments and big business. She encountered controversy last year over listing Abdulla Yameen, the president of the Maldives, among her clients.

Solomon Smith and Mahamed Hashi

Co-founders, Brixton Soup Kitchen

As a teenager, Smith set up a football match between Brixton and Peckham gangs — a bid to patch up relations. Now he feeds the homeless in south London, running Brixton Soup Kitchen with longtime friend Hashi. The pair deliver food to homeless people around the city and say the need has never been greater. As Hashi puts it, those they help have no one else they can depend on.

Tracey Ford

Founder, JAGS Foundation

In 2007, Ford’s son Andre was shot dead at Streatham ice rink at the age of 17. She responded by founding the JAGS Foundation which supports bereaved families, tries to stamp out youth-on-youth violence and promotes reconciliation between the affected and offenders. The charity, which takes its name from Andre’s initials (James Andre Godfrey Smartt-Ford), also provides education and training for young people.

Leyla Hussein

Psychotherapist and co-founder, Daughters of Eve

Alongside Nimko Ali, Hussein is the face of the anti-FGM movement in the UK. She presented Channel 4 documentary The Cruel Cut and this year criticised Sky News for its plans to show a girl undergoing FGM in Somalia. Hussein works with survivors, providing psychotherapy, and speaks in schools.

Jason Atherton


Best known for his Michelin-starred restaurant, Pollen Street Social, Atherton is also a board member of Hospitality Action, which helps those in the industry suffering from illness, poverty, bereavement or domestic violence. Last year he launched Social Sunday, an annual event giving chefs and others in the industry the chance to host lunches in aid of Hospitality Action.

Nikandre Kopcke,

Founder and chief executive, Mazí Mas

“Mazí Mas” means “with us” in Greek — the ethos of Kopcke’s pop-up restaurants, which employ female refugees. Half-Greek, half-German, she was inspired by her Greek godmother, Maria Marouli, who taught her how to cook and had wanted to open a bakery but was prevented by her husband, who thought business was not for women.

Simon Boyle


Rejected by the dragons on Dragons’ Den, Boyle still managed to find funding for his social enterprise, the Beyond Food Foundation. He runs Brigade on Tooley Street, where he hires and trains the homeless for careers in hospitality. He became a chef at 16, worked as an apprentice at the Savoy, has cooked for Saudi princes and was Unilever’s first ever culinary ambassador.

Naveed Khan 


A medical student at King’s College London who is also studying for a masters in global health at UCL, Khan is head of the homelessness arm of the Acts of Random Kindness project — a campaign spearheaded by the university’s Islamic society. He is also the national director of Charity Week UK, which has raised more than £400,000 this year.

James Hayes

Chief executive, Emmaus Lambeth

If you’ve ever walked past a shop with a green sign and an emblem of a dove holding a flower, it’s an Emmaus store. It’s part of the charity’s mission to “give homeless people a bed … and a reason to get out of it”. In Lambeth, Emmaus offers up to 54 formerly homeless people a home and work which keeps the community solvent. Hayes used to be a senior branch manager at Nationwide Building Society.

Jan Tallis 

Chief executive, School-Home Support

Working with some of the most vulnerable children — those with families in extreme poverty or who have suffered domestic abuse — School-Home Support aims to break the cycle of low achievement and low income. Tallis says the best piece of management advice she has received is “humility does not equal humble”.

Rosie Boycott

Food campaigner 

Having enjoyed a stellar career as a journalist, pioneering feminist Boycott had not imagined she would end up working for the Mayor of London. But her appointment to the Board of London Food in 2012 has proved to be an inspired choice. She has worked hard to tackle the capital’s obesity crisis, arguing this year in favour of legislation to encourage healthy eating.

David Beckham

Unicef goodwill ambassador

As possibly the most widely recognised man on earth, Beckham uses his fame for good. He may be best known as a footballer or for posing in his underwear, but in his role as Unicef goodwill ambassador he brings smiles to those in real need. In June he visited children living with HIV in Swaziland to see how money raised by his 7 Fund is being spent.

Elisabeth Murdoch

Campaigner for women in art

Since selling her television production company Shine, Murdoch has struck out in a different direction with a bid to transform the art world. She is a trustee of Tate and her Freelands Foundation is due to hand out its first £100,000 award this autumn, specifically set aside for women artists and organisations that work with them.

Dean Godson

Director, Policy Exchange

Fiercely bright Godson, formerly chief leader writer at the Daily Telegraph, has been described as Britain’s acknowledged expert on the problem of social cohesion. The establishment of an “integration hub” at the think tank this year may prove timely as the Government looks to tackle issues connected to immigration and integration.

Lindsay Boswell

Chief executive, FareShare

Last year FareShare redistributed enough food for 18.3 million meals, providing food to disadvantaged children, homeless hostels, community cafes and more. Boswell is passionate about fighting hunger and food waste, connected problems which London urgently needs to solve.

Stephen Fry

Actor, presenter

When the BBC announced that Fry was to step down as host of QI last October, it brought to an end a remarkable 13-year run. How Alan Davies will fare without him is anyone’s guess. Fry, meanwhile, turned campaigner in June, attacking the NHS’s position not to fund the provision of PrEP, the HIV-preventative medication.

Dame Julia Peyton-Jones

Arts supremo

She may have left her role as director of the Serpentine Galleries in July, but after putting the Hyde Park institution at the forefront of the London art scene her legacy will remain for years to come. Dame Julia is a cultural tour de force and a fundraising machine, a member of the Royal Mint advisory committee, recipient of this year’s Ada Louise Huxtable prize and an honorary graduate of the University for the Creative Arts. This definitely isn’t the last we’ll see of her.

Hayley Carr

Co-founder and co-director, Lauriston Lights

In 2013, Carr co-founded Lauriston Lights, a Hackney summer school for children from deprived backgrounds. As a child, she attended a state primary school in the area then won a scholarship to City of London School for Girls. Carr tries to bring the  same “inspirational, mobilised ethos” she experienced there to the camp and to encourage curiosity.

Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers

Founders and directors, Fashion Revolution 

The brains behind a fashion initiative created to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and incite interest in a global campaign to stimulate change. Castro and Somers run a non-profit community interest project which launched in reaction to the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Its aim is to bring brands and retailers together to make maximum impact.

Tina Fordham

Managing director and chief global political analyst, Citi

The first chief political analyst to work for a major financial institution. Fordham’s research focuses on difficult-to-quantify risks; she is also helping spearhead Citi’s coverage of gender and socio-economic themes. This year she was appointed to the UN’s first high-level panel on women’s economic empowerment.

Martina Milburn

Chief executive, the Prince’s Trust

A report by the Trust in July showed that children from poorer backgrounds are often unable to access the chances available to those from affluent families. As Milburn put it, there is a “social bank of mum and dad” just as much as a financial one. Still, the Prince’s Trust makes a real difference to many — and in the past decade alone it has returned £1.4 billion in value to society by helping disadvantaged young people.

Jon Sparkes

Chief executive, Crisis

After making his mark as chief executive of Scope and with a stint at Unicef UK under his belt, Sparkes took charge of homelessness charity Crisis two years ago. He was among the campaigners who gave a muted welcome to government measures intended to ease homelessness this year, arguing that changes to the law were necessary to make more help available to single people sleeping rough.

Richard Gere


He stole Julia Roberts’s heart as billionaire Edward in Pretty Woman but stole ours in March when he came to promote his new film Time Out of Mind, in which he plays a homeless man. He used the role to raise awareness of the plight of London’s rough sleepers, calling for improved services for single homeless adults and an expansion ofsocial housing. He also campaigns for HIV/Aids awareness and ecological causes.