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City Matters Edition 067

Page 20 | 14 - 27

Page 20 | 14 - 27 February 2018 CITYMATTERS.LONDON

CITYMATTERS.LONDON 14 - 27 February 2018 | Page 21 Social Matters DUCKS, HUGS & BACK RUBS: DRAGON CAFÉ IS OPEN Stressed out? Discover a new Square Mile oasis AN oasis is defined as ‘a refuge, relief or pleasant change from what is usual, annoying, or difficult’. And it’s exactly what entering Shoe Lane Library felt like when the Dragon Café opened its doors last Thursday, writes Monika Cvorak. On any given day, the library on the corner of Shoe Lane and Little New Street already serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Square Mile’s financial district for many a City worker and resident. Today, however, as they leave the grey concrete and noisy streets behind them and descend into the library, visitors are greeted by much more than merely literature. “Hello, and welcome to the Dragon Café. Would you like a free massage?” a young woman says to every person entering the library, pointing to her left where a few visitors are getting a shoulder rub. Next to them, two people are sat on chairs chatting, while a sign above them says “Problem- Solving Booth”. Anxiety In the opposite corner, a lecture is taking place with the listeners tucking into their pre-packed lunches. A few feet over, others are running around with crayons, paint, brushes and paper. Close to the entrance, there is a bathtub filled with rubber ducks. “So that’s a Lunch & Learn discussion on a new mental wellbeing and motivation app. Over there they’re setting up a mask-making workshop, and if you pick up the shower head of the bathtub, you can hear other people’s stories on how they deal with stress and anxiety, and record your own story,” explains Declan McGill from the Mental Fight Club, the charity that brought London the first Dragon Café, situated in Borough, in 2002. “Usually facilities for mental wellbeing are very clinical, sterile, kind of frightening and not creative or inspiring at all,” says Declan. “The aim of the Dragon Café was to offer people an open space where they can feel safe to relax and recharge. Now we’ve brought that to the City.” While there is more of a buzz today than one would usually expect in a library, the atmosphere is warm, welcoming, and homey. “This is only the beginning, we have a lot of very different events coming up later in the day,” he says with enthusiasm: “We’ve got magicians coming in, a terrarium making workshop, Tai Chi and Kung Fu classes combined with mindfulness sessions… ALMOST one in every five workers in the City of London in 2016 originated from a European country – the highest figure since records began. Data from the Office for National Statistics, requested by the Corporation, shows that 18% of the Square Mile’s workforce derived from the European Economic Area (EEA). Looking at the professional services sector specifically, data reveals that 12% of the workforce derived from Europe – more than double the share of four years previous when European workers in the sector stood at just 5%. Separately, the financial and insurance sector is currently staffed by 13% continental workers, which, compared to the previous decade, when the figure was just 8%, marks a significant increase. Policy chairman Catherine mental health focus: at the Dragon Café We really make sure there’s something for everyone.” The beauty of the Dragon Café concept is that there is no pressure, says Declan: “Visitors can take as much or as little as they like. We want them to know that they are in control. They can just observe what’s going on, reflect or practice mindfulness on their own, or engage in everything on offer, it’s up to them.” Despite increased efforts in recent years to remove the stigma around mental wellbeing, it continues to be a prevalent issue amongst City workers. A 2017 survey by the City Mental Health Alliance found that 47% of respondents have experienced mental health difficulties while working for their current employer. Only half of them disclosed this to someone at work. The café is the latest venture in a series of events and campaigns launched by the City of London to tackle poor mental health in the Square Mile. “What’s brilliant about this collaboration is that we can team up our knowledge of City workers and residents and make sure the programme the café offers is tailored exactly to the needs of the locals,” says Xenia Koumi from Business Healthy, a City-led initiative encouraging businesses to meet the health and wellbeing needs of their workers. “We know that a lot of workers in the City are male, middle aged, and at risk of cardiovascular diseases. They can also be a difficult group to reach, in terms of getting them to speak up about their mental health,” says Xenia. “So we’re keeping Importance of EU workers is crystal clear to the Corp McGuinness believes the figure “crystalizes the importance” of European workers to the UK’s financial centre. “Many Europeans are in limbo over their future status here, and firms are unclear as to who they can employ, which is having repercussions on decision-making across the continent,” she said. “Securing a good trade deal without a sound immigration policy would be a hollow victory, so it’s vital this is addressed sooner rather than later. “At the end of last year government made progress on EU citizens’ rights, which meant we were able to move to move to Phase 2 of negotiations. We need to continue to build on this momentum.” that in mind when setting up the programme. I think what distinguishes this Dragon Café is the fact that we’re really targeting the local population, trying to bring together workers and residents. In that sense, it’s kind of a hyperlocal service.” The Dragon Café in the City will run fortnightly on Thursdays between noon and 8.30pm until 12 July. The next one is billed to take place on 22 February. For more details on upcoming programmes, go to dragoncafeinthecity.com. Artizan Street Library 1 Artizan St, E1 7AF Barbican Library Level 2, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS Bishopsgate Institute Library 230 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4QH City of London Information Centre St. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8BX Coffee Stall In front of St Mary Abchurch, Abchurch Lane, EC4N 7BA Coppa Club 4 St. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AY El Vino Wine Merchant 6 Martin Lane, Cannon St, EC4R 0DP Fuller’s - The Counting House 50 Cornhill, EC3V 3PD Fuller’s - The Old Bank of England 194 Fleet St, EC4A 2LT Giddy Up Coffee Fortune Street Park, EC1Y 0SB Jeeves Dry Cleaners 131 Fleet St, EC4A 2BH J Rogers & Sons - Shoe Repair 28 Liverpool St, EC2M 7PD Guildhall Library Aldermanbury, EC2V 7HH Merchant House 13 Well Court, EC4M 9DN 8 Bride Court, EC4Y 8DU You’ll be able to pick up your copy every fortnight from one of the above collection points. Firms fired up for Dragon Awards BUSINESSES tackling social problems in London are being called on to enter this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards – the Capital’s top responsible business gongs. The annual ceremony celebrates companies large and small that are improving people’s lives; from increasing the diversity of their workforce to volunteering in the community to helping social enterprises to grow. The best of the bunch will contest six awards, with shortlisted firms invited to Mansion House later this year when the winners will be announced in the company of Charles Bowman. “These awards celebrate the excellent work of business supporting communities across London and tackling social issues,” said the Lord Mayor. Opportunity “We will recognise firms that are improving society through their responsible business programmes and leading the way for others. “London’s businesses should be more vocal about the positive work they do for society – and these awards are a fantastic opportunity to do just that. “I am particularly pleased, this year, to launch a new award: the Lord Mayor’s Award – Business of Trust Champion.” Over the last 30 years, responsible businesses which have applied to the Dragon Awards have helped an estimated 10million people, mobilising 200,000 business volunteers and giving nearly £250m in donations and in-kind support to London’s communities. Nincom Soup Old Street Station, EC1Y 1BE Oh’Lola 58 Hatton Garden, EC1N 8LS Pod Good Food 75 King William Street, EC4N 7BE dragonawards.org.uk www.citymatters.london Protestant Truth Society Inc - Book Shop 184 Fleet St, EC4A 2HJ Rome Coffee Cart 3 Fleet Place, EC4M 7RD Scott’s Shoe Repair & Dry Cleaners City Thameslink Holborn Concourse, EC4M 7RA 65 Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7JH Old Street Station, EC1Y 1BE Shoe Lane Library Little Hill House, Little New Street, EC4A 3JR Spitalfields Market E1 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1 6AA Sweetings Restaurant 39 Queen Victoria St, EC4N 4SF Temple Brew House 46 Essex St, WC2R 3JF The Franklin Building 124 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DP The M Bar 48-51 Leadenhall Market, EC3V 1LT The Natural Kitchen 15-17 New St Square, Fetter Lane, EC4A 3AP 176 Aldersgate St, EC1A 4HR Waterstones Leadenhall Market, 1-3 Whittington Ave, EC3V 1PJ Ye Old Cheshire Cheese 145 Fleet Street, EC4A 2BU