Local Heroes

We want to recognise individuals within the Old Street community working hard to ensure a lively, enhanced, safe and stronger district.

If you would like local hero recognised, please email comms@oldstreetdistrict.london


Business activist and award winner Grace Graham runs Keep It Simple Training Company Ltd, a consultancy which focuses on leadership development for new and aspiring leaders in the public sector and law. She has close to 30 years’ experience of working in music, recruitment, and education in the UK, US, and the Middle East, with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and management within the public, private and charity sector.

Grace created Keep It Simple programmes to support those new to management so they can reach their full potential. She is on a mission to change the face of leadership and make it more diverse and inclusive.

Grace is a leadership development specialist with a special interest in the professional growth women, BAME, and works exceptionally well with special people who didn’t have the greatest time in education. As an energetic low achiever Grace really relates with this. After being sent to the Caribbean to see in her last teenage year and ‘learn some things’, Grace’s eyes opened and her movement toward being an ambitious high achiever shone through. Since then she has achieved some incredible notable things.

Such as: Winning the Haberdasher’s Company Award for Enterprise Having her work referenced in the Sage Handbook of Coaching,and being featured in the local and online media for her business activities Being a business award judge and presenter Doing a stint as a TEDx Talks Speaker

Grace has spent the last 4 years working primarily with the education sector offering bespoke training services.

She is very active in the business community and is the FSB Lead Member for the Borough Action Group in Hackney, hosting monthly business breakfasts and is the FSB Inclusion & Communities Lead for the Greater London Region. Grace is Associate Lecturer in Leadership at New City College and Enterprise Mentor at The University of East London.


For twenty-five years I served in the Armed Forces, I was charged with maintaining the physical fitness levels and first aid for the UK and NATO military forces. Since leaving, I set up Blue Earth Training Ltd and The Movie Medics International Ltd.

The Movie Medics was founded when I saw a gap in the market for hard working medics to work on film, advertising and music productions across the UK and worldwide. Now we work with many London based production companies and adapt to their requirements by providing set medics, paramedics and doctors. You expect long days, but the work is exciting not knowing what is about to happen, we have to be prepared for any situation. We have worked in some amazing places from Italy, Netherlands, Spain, France, USA and film festivals around the world including Cannes film festival. We also run various courses from ‘Film & TV’ First Aid to ‘Hostile Medical Training’ for when production companies are filming in remote areas. We recently won ‘Best Film & Television Medical Cover Provider 2019’ so I’m sure 2020 is set to be an even bigger year with major films already contacting us for their medical cover.

My other company Blue Earth Training provide First Aid courses from 1-day Emergency First Aid at Work to Paediatric and 3-day First Aid at Work courses, which we adapt for our clients to meet their health and safety requirements. We have over 15 different types of courses on offer to cover all sectors of business. Unlike other companies we put the fun back into first aid training to enhance the learning experience. We work with many different businesses from the corporate sector including major banks, retailers, designers, production companies, film schools, charities, nurseries, schools, universities and local traders. We adapt each course as every sector is different requiring role specific training.

It may sound a cliché, but I absolutely love my work, I enjoy getting up in the morning even if it’s at 4am! Part of my day is spent arranging dates for our returning clients and contacting new ones as we don’t advertise, its’ all word of mouth. We also give back to the community and have provided free first aid courses to special needs projects. A recent project was “Buses for the Homeless,” a low-cost holistic solution to homelessness in London. As a company we donated them with an Automated External Defibrillator, this alone will give a casualty in cardiac arrest a 74% chance of survival compared with 6% for normal CPR. With more than 9000 people sleeping rough in London each night it’s the least we could do to help and with a large proportion being ex-military it hit home how important this project was. If you are looking for cost effective first aid training or medical cover for your next production, please contact us for more information.


Hackney Foodbank is a small registered charity and also part of the Trussell Trust Network. We provide three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis living in Hackney and the surrounding areas. We also offer wider support such as advice regarding debt, welfare rights, and managing fuel poverty. These wider forms of support are provided by experts from other charity organisations who come to our foodbank sessions to offer clients additional help.

When speaking with the clients visiting us, it is striking how many of them talk of having a long term disability or illness that has suddenly been deemed as no longer a reason not to be fit for work. Others will talk of a past that has involved growing up in care, or escaping from domestic violence.

The level of usage at Hackney Foodbank has more than doubled in the first 6 months of this year compared to the first 6 months of last year. Low income has now become the main reason why people are using our foodbanks. This means that a growing number of people are suffering in-work poverty. Over a quarter of the people we are feeding are children, and the majority of them are of primary school age.

In an effort to improve the variety of food we give out, we have reached out to the community to forge relationships with organisations such as Growing Communities, who provide us a weekly amount of fresh organic vegetables, so that we can provide people with a mix of fresh food in addition to the non-perishable items we normally give them.

We believe that we can help make a more meaningful long term impact in shifting the trajectory of these people’s lives. To do this, we rely heavily on support from all parts of our community. This includes local businesses that can offer a wide variety of support to us, such as:

  • corporate groups volunteering with us, e.g. sorting and shelving in the warehouse, or supporting one of our holiday lunch clubs
  • fundraising in their own offices
  • a supermarket sweep in teams: buying as many items as possible with a budget, then weighing it and sorting it in the warehouse
  • offering mentoring support or apprenticeships to people struggling to find employment
  • encouraging employees to consider online giving via our website
  • or setting up a food collection point in their office

During the current situation of Covid 19 the food bank is even more important in supporting the local community.

Whatever businesses can do to support us will be a huge help in enabling us not only to feed people in crisis today, but also to help move them on to a more sustainable and independent life in the longer term.