Londoner’s Diary: Union Chapel’s fight to survive after virus wipes out income

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Union Chapel London   (Alamy Stock Photo)
Union Chapel London (Alamy Stock Photo)

THE Union Chapel, one of London’s premier venues, has begun a crowdfunder to help survive the “catastrophic effect” of Omicron on its business and charitable enterprises.

“We’ve had at least two months heavily impacted, if not totally wiped out,” chief executive Michael Chandler tells the Londoner. “It’s thrown us back into that position that we were in in March 2020 when there was a high level of uncertainty. It’s really difficult to plan a lot of things.”

The Union Chapel hosts gigs and talks and also supports the local homeless “and the most vulnerable in society”.

“The venue provides 80 per cent of the charity’s income,” Chandler explains, adding: “It’s very much a social enterprise model. Without that venue, that wiped out the majority of all that charitable income.”

They are hoping to raise £60,000 to keep themselves afloat and have reached just over £15,000 so far. But Chandler says: “I would like to be hopeful and optimistic that this might be the tail end of the worst of the pandemic”, before adding, “but who knows”. Fingers crossed.

Their GoFundMe can be found here.

Lockdown sparks Troubles memory

Sir Kenneth Branagh (Getty Images)
Sir Kenneth Branagh (Getty Images)

SIR Kenneth Branagh has revealed lockdown inspired his film Belfast as, when the shutters went down in March 2020, he was reminded of being a boy living through the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He had a memory of “another lockdown — a lockdown that involved pulling up pavements and building barricades at either end of the street”, he recalled to a BFI audience. Sir Ken says he had to resist temptation to put himself at the centre of the film: “I cast myself, I cut myself.” His own toughest critic.

Tilda holds no sway with co-star

Tilda Swinton (Kate Green/Getty Images)
Tilda Swinton (Kate Green/Getty Images)

TILDA SWINTON says her on-screen pet partner Dash, who she worked with on new Pedro Almodóvar film The Human Voice, was “wonderful” and “highly professional” but she’s had better colleagues. Although Dash is “a huge superstar and has been in lots of ads and is very famous”, there was one issue. “He wasn’t interested in me at all,” Swinton, left, explains to Total Film magazine. He “kept looking behind me at the man with the sausage in his pocket”. “I realised: Work with your own dog,” she concludes.

SW1A

TORY MP Anne Marie Morris has had the Conservative whip removed after voting for Labour’s motion proposing a VAT cut on energy bills. Morris, who will now sit as an independent, said this morning: “I won’t apologise for supporting measures that would help my hard-working constituents.”

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Caroline Nokes (AFP via Getty Images)
Caroline Nokes (AFP via Getty Images)

CAROLINE NOKES tells us Parliament has changed hugely for women in the past 12 years. “There are more of us, we are determined to have an impact, to bring about change and are very pragmatic when it comes to putting party differences aside to make things better.” The good side of politics.

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