Pick of the Month – April 2024

1 April 2024 | By Lucy Pratt

This month, our Picks come from all corners of the charity sector – from basketball to baking! It's promising to see so many indviduals finding creative ways to support and develop communities. 

Trustee of the Month – Gaz Koosar, Northern Roots

Northern Roots in Oldham, Greater Manchester is a vibrant community space committed to creating the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park. Spread across 160 acres of green space, the organisation acts as a hub for creativity, sustainability, and well-being, offering a diverse range of activities and initiatives aimed at fostering connections between people and the environment. From community gardens and allotments to workshops and events focused on sustainable living practices, Northern Roots provides opportunities for residents to engage with nature, learn new skills, and contribute to a greener, healthier community. The space also hosts cultural events, markets, and performances, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the region and its green spaces.

Gaz started our conversation by talking about her experience as a trustee:


“My first Trustee role was more by accident than design. I was a founding member of the 6th Oldham Scouts Group, a group I helped to set up so my children had opportunities that I didn’t. Since then, I have held a number of scout roles and each came with fiduciary and safeguarding obligations. In recent years I have been more deliberate in selecting Trustee roles, making sure each Trustee appointment aligns with my ethical values while providing a good mix of learning and development opportunities.”


 Gaz went on to tell us about the value she can add as a trustee:

“As a Trustee with a legal background, I particularly enjoy testing the robustness of proposals, strategy, policy, and other decisions placed before the Board. My ability to bring a different perspective or lived experience has been really valuable over the years and has helped to achieve better, more rounded and inclusive outcomes for the charities that I have been involved in.” 


Despite the rewards, there are challenges involved in trusteeship. On these, Gaz said:

“As I work full time, one of the challenges in my role, especially for someone like me who likes detail, is having the time to read board papers in preparation for the next meeting. This can be a challenge but it’s important to be able to reserve time to do this.”


To end, Gaz reflected on her time as a trustee:

“Reflecting on my journey so far, I would say it’s been challenging yet immensely rewarding and one I would highly recommend to others!"


Keep up to date with Northern Roots’ work on Twitter @NorthernRootsOL or visit their website.



Social Entrepreneur of the Month – Alice Williams, Luminary Bakery

Alice Williams is the Founder and CEO of Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise which supports women facing social or economic disadvantage. Through baking, Luminary Bakery offers a range of opportunities for women to transform their employability and entrepreneurship. Opportunities include work experience, paid employment, and chances to develop skills which they can use to empower themselves and develop their careers. The bakery also offers a safe and professional environment where women can grow holistically.


Alice began by talking to us about the inspiration for Luminary Bakery: 


“The inspiration for Luminary came from meeting women in East London who were experiencing gender-based violence, poverty, homelessness, and multiple other disadvantages. Getting to know women living through these experiences helped me to see that, despite the complex issues they faced, they were all incredibly resilient and had so much potential and drive to build a different future. Luminary Bakery provides a space where they can channel this drive and potential.”


When asked about how Luminary Bakery was created, Alice said: 

“We started small with a group of us using the skills we had to run some baking classes in a nearby women’s hostel. We wanted to see if the women there enjoyed it and whether the idea of a social enterprise bakery creating job opportunities for disadvantaged women could work. We were thrilled when it went well, and the women really enjoyed the classes and started to grow in their skills and confidence.”


Alice finished by explaining how the bakery got to where it is today:

“From the baking classes, we started selling what the women made in local cafés. Over time this helped us go from something casual run by volunteers to the fully-fledged bakery you see today. To date, we have worked with over 200 women and now have two bakery sites in Camden and Hackney. We are also growing our online business and are delivering cakes & brownies all across the UK!


If you would like to find out more about Luminary Bakery, follow the organisation on Twitter or visit their website.



Charity Leader of the Month – Tony Lazare, London Basketball Association

London Basketball Association (LBA) is on a mission to inspire the people of London to engage with basketball and create accessible routes to experience the sport. The Association believes that sport has a crucial role in society; uniting communities, boosting employment and raising individual health and wellbeing. LBA states LBA brings positive social change to the most disadvantaged communities in London through the sport of basketball.


Tony told us about his work and mission: 


“I'm driven by a deep passion for empowering individuals and communities through the transformative power of basketball. My mission, here at the London Basketball Association, is to create a positive ripple effect, using the sport as a springboard for personal growth, social inclusion, and active lifestyles. We achieve this by providing accessible and engaging programmes that cater to diverse needs and age groups, fostering a love for the game while equipping participants with valuable life skills.”


He shared more about his journey:

“My journey in this field began with a simple love of basketball and a desire to make a difference. Witnessing the impact the sport had on myself and others fuelled my determination to create similar opportunities for a wider audience. Through dedication, perseverance, and ongoing learning, Today, after 11 years leading the organisation, I wear many hats, from coaching and programme development to collaboration with stakeholders and community outreach.”


Tony offered his advice for emerging leaders:

“For aspiring leaders, my advice is threefold: embrace passion, cultivate empathy, and lead with humility. Passion is the fuel that drives you forward, helping you navigate challenges and celebrate triumphs. Empathy allows you to connect with the individuals you serve, understanding their needs and aspirations. Finally, humility encourages continuous learning and fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute.”


Envisioning the future of his sector, Tony emphasised the value of equal opportunities: 

“One area I'm deeply passionate about seeing change within our sector is accessibility and inclusivity. We must strive to ensure that basketball is not a privilege, but an opportunity for all, regardless of background, ability, or circumstance. This involves breaking down barriers, providing flexible and diverse programs, and championing equal access for everyone who wants to experience the joy and benefits of the sport.


Every dribble, every shot, and every interaction within our programs represents an opportunity to create lasting change. It's this unwavering commitment to empowerment and inclusivity that makes the London Basketball Association a beacon of hope and opportunity for countless individuals.”


Keep in the loop with the LBA online and on Twitter.


Fellow of the Month – Alice Beverley, London Youth Choirs

Alice Beverley is Head of Development for London Youth Choirs (LYC). LYC work to transform young lives through singing, breaking down barriers to an inspiring musical education for young Londoners. Before joining LYC, Alice worked in varied roles in arts management, event programming and producing, particularly focused on bringing in new audiences. At the V&A, Alice worked on an events programme for the 2018 Opera exhibition, London Design Festival, Performance Festival and the museum’s first off-site Friday Late in Hackney Wick. She is a Trustee of the Kerslake Robshaw Foundation and has previously worked for Percius and Maestro Arts management.


Alice discussed her journey so far at LYC: 

“I joined LYC initially on the membership and events side, and only later accidentally ended up doing some fundraising due to the pandemic emergency grants. I now manage pretty much all of LYC’s fundraising across individual giving, trusts and foundations and corporates with the help of a very supportive and fundraising-savvy Executive Director.”


She expressed optimism about the future of music education investment: 

“Despite the pretty dire music education situation for young people, particularly those in state schools and areas with a lack of free/affordable provision, it does seem that more people are starting to have a conversation (or more people are listening) to why this is a vital thing to provide for all young people. The National Plan for Music Education says that ‘Singing is the golden thread for primary music education’, which is a great endorsement of our choirs-based approach, and we hope this attention will turn into action (and funding!).”


Regarding her own personal development, Alice considered the benefits to come as a Professional Fellow: 

“I’m really looking forward to sharing ideas with other fundraisers in similar positions! I’ve never done fundraising for another organisation, so I try to find networks and people to bounce ideas with wherever I can. A year-long programme will be an amazing chance to really learn about other people’s organisations, fundraising practice, and how they personally feel about the sector. (Obviously all alongside the structured training we’ll receive!)”


Looking ahead, she noted the importance of systemic change, the power structures within the charity sector and ensuring the voices of beneficiaries are heard: 

“I’m really passionate about people and organisations looking for the root of the problem and how to enact systemic change to fix things long term. There are so many acute problems where there’s clearly a place for responding to direct needs, now, but I think I’m particularly drawn to organisations which use this work to learn and campaign or inform policy. I am interested in the growing trend of spending down funds, questioning whether these money (and therefore power!) structures might reinforce inequalities. 


But I think the biggest thing for me is listening to beneficiaries and giving them the power and agency to inform the work of a charity. We’re starting on a journey to embed this at LYC with a Youth Advisory Panel, but are looking up to organisations like Become Charity.”

Learn more about LYC’s work on their website or on Twitter




More by posts by Lucy Pratt

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30th April, 2024 | By Lucy Pratt

Welcome back. In May's Pick of the Month, we had the pleasure of learning about work in areas including the arts; health and wellbeing; heritage and woman's empowerment. They're a diverse range of leaders, each with a unique prespective – read on to learn from their expertise and experience! 

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