Youth Social Action takes Sutton House by storm at London 2019 Dragons' Den

Youth Social Action takes Sutton House by storm at London 2019 Dragons' Den

June 5, 2019

On the 9th April, grade ll*- listed Sutton House in Hackney was the stage for the 2019 Uprising ELP’s edition of Dragon’s Den. UpRiser's were given the challenge of presenting their social action campaigns to an impressive panel of four industry leading Dragons; Max Wakefield, Acting Director of Campaigns for 10:10, Alastair Roxburgh, Director of Communities and Networks from Friends of the Earth, Hugo Van Maasakkers, Consultancy Manager at National Trust and UpRising’s very own Finance and Operations Director, Laura Ryder.

The evening started off with a pitch from ‘Mindful Minimalism’, who are planning on working with businesses and community organisations in promoting and developing sustainable business practices. The team showed commercial awareness and technological savvy in explaining how an idea like this could expand into becoming a consultancy and could benefit from widespread demand from businesses of varying size and type.

Next up were ‘DISPLACED’, a campaign with a focus on raising awareness of the human impact of climate change in the UK. This group’s presentation focused on making a compelling emotive case for the issue at hand and entered on how the arts could be used to communicate such points.


Green Hands Newham’ were the next team to present, and started by drawing attention to an impending public health crisis looming in the UK - that of social isolation. With a focus on the London borough of Newham, Green Hands laid out a plan to bring about social change and the revitalisation of public spaces in the local area through environmentally friendly activities. Aided by research, statistics and testimonials, the team highlighted their plans to start with three initial events over the summer through extensive collaboration with existing groups.

We think it’s fair to say that the next campaign to present, ‘No Label’ were arguably the most colourful of the bunch, with their tongue-in-cheek proposal of a satirical podcast exploring the environmentally questionable nature of fast fashion. The prospect of a ‘podcast’ as a form of expression are very much ‘in vogue’ (pun intended) by audience and Dragons alike.

Faces of Air Pollution’ are a campaign who by their own words, are “putting a face to an invisible issue”. They delivered a compelling, interactive pitch on the human stories behind dirty air in the capital and explored the power of social media in reaching their audience, a tool which has come to great, demonstrable effect for many other initiatives. 

Food 4 Thought’, started their presentation with a shocking fact - that £12 billion worth of food is wasted every year. The pitch centered around what can we be done by those under 30, to create an impact on this vital issue and spoke of their intention to have a speakers event to educate the public on the matter.

‘Healthy on a Budget’ focused on a localised campaign based in Tower Hamlets, with the objective of tackling food injustice and fighting for the provision of affordable, healthy food. They outlined an ambitious plan to collaborate with local fast food places to work together in coming up with healthy, yet commercial alternatives, particularly in hotspots such as main roads and places near schools.

After some comfort food, deliberation and highbrow Oscars style awards confusion, it was decided that ‘Green Hands Newham’ would take the top prize of £200 funding from Uprising, followed by £100 for ‘No Label’ and £50 for ‘Healthy on a Budget’. Beyond funding, the following forms of support were also offered to other campaign groups as prizes. DISPLACED were awarded with a campaigns workshop with, Faces of Air Pollution get to spend an hour with Jenny Thatcher, a communications manager from Friends of the Earth, Mindful Minimalism were offered an introduction to staff who managed recycling at Friends of the Earth HO, and Food 4 Thought were given the prospect of a speaker at their flagship event.

Through the valuable advice of the Dragons, and through all the support provided by themselves and Uprising, it was evident that these social action campaigns all had within them, the seed to be ‘game-changing’. Each and every UpRiser could also feel confident in the fact that they had come far in the past 6 months, and that they could leave Sutton House that day, feeling at least an inch taller.


UpRising's Environmental Leadership Programme is funded by Our Bright Future and The National Lottery Community Fund