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Coronavirus: Newington Green kiosk turns to community after being left behind by government grants

PUBLISHED: 10:42 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 15 May 2020

Lizzy in front of her kiosk Lizzy's On The Green. Picture:  Lizzy's On The Green

Lizzy in front of her kiosk Lizzy's On The Green. Picture: Lizzy's On The Green

Lizzy's On The Green

A Newington Green kiosk owner was amazed by the community response to the coronavirus crowdfunder she set up but is concerned for businesses like hers falling through the cracks in government provision.

Lizzy started her business seven years ago. She hopes it will survive the coronavirus crisis. Picture:  Lizzy's On The GreenLizzy started her business seven years ago. She hopes it will survive the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Lizzy's On The Green

Lizzy Bassham’s business Lizzy’s On The Green may survive the Covid-19 lockdown despite it not qualifying for government support and falling through “every loophole imaginable”.

It has been helped by a fundraiser, which was set up in April and hit its first target of £10,000 in just 31 hours.

She told the Gazette: “People have been messaging saying they have such fond memories of the cafe and can’t bear to see it close. I’m totally overwhelmed with how generous and gorgeous everyone’s been.”

Lizzy’s On The Green is rented through Islington Council and sits on the border with Hackney.

Lizzy runs a cafe out of a kiok in Newington Green. Picture: Lizzy's On The GreenLizzy runs a cafe out of a kiok in Newington Green. Picture: Lizzy's On The Green

Kiosks like Lizzy’s and businesses which pay rent within a building do not pay business rates directly and so are not eligible for government support.

Islington councillor Asima Shaikh, executive member for inclusive economy and jobs, recently sent a letter urging the government to address the issue of small and micro enterprises located in co-working spaces.

The councillor said: “While we welcome the package of vital financial support the government has given to businesses in Islington to date, we know there are a number of local businesses that have fallen through the cracks – particularly small and micro businesses.

“I have called on the government to take further action to safeguard the livelihoods of our businesses and residents. I know from talking to many of our local business owners that there is a real sense of fear and insecurity right now, and we are doing everything we can to help support them through this crisis.”

Lizz'y kiosk has raised £17,000 thanks to overhwhelming support from the community. Picture:  Lizzy's On The GreenLizz'y kiosk has raised £17,000 thanks to overhwhelming support from the community. Picture: Lizzy's On The Green

The seasonal nature of the business is also a concern for the owner as Lizzy’s On The Green makes about 68 per cent of its total earnings during the spring and summer months.

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“I need to know if I’ll be open before the summer season comes to an end because otherwise I’m not going to make it. It’s my livelihood and I’ve worked so hard for seven years to build a community in Newington Green.”

Loyal customers including Mark William Bedford, the bassist of Madness, have contributed to help the business.

The bassist gave away backstage tickets to his band’s next London concert and restauranteur Gizzi Erskine and Channel 4 comedian Jayde Adams, who once worked at the cafe, offered to host a dining and comedy event at Lizzy’s On The Green once it’s safe to do so.

Meanwhile, Lizzy has had to furlough eight members of staff and signed up to universal credit. She has had to live with no income since March 24 and must wait until the middle of this month (May) to receive any benefits.

The business owner moved her home delivery cake business to Newington Green seven years ago and opened in time for the Jazz On The Green Festival.

She says the government is aware of the threat businesses like hers face but thinks they are prepared to let them go under.

“The day we opened was amazing. I still remember the first baby born in the community when we opened and now they’re nearly seven. I’ve seen all these families grow and people get together, get married and have their kids and their dogs.

“It’s the nicest environment. I’m so thankful to everybody who is supporting us – community exists and here’s the proof.”

To donate click here.

Lizzy’s crowdfunder will be open to donations until May 22.

For the latest coronavirus news from Hackney and across London follow our live blog here, visit our corona virus page, or join our Facebook group here.

Or to find more groups, networks and organisations in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.


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