Q&A: The Mermaid London’s Pledge to Make Meetings Matter on Global Meetings Industry Day and Beyond

The Mermaid London has partnered up with Streets of London to help tackle homelessness in the city, announcing a year-long campaign titled ‘Make Meetings Matter.’ On Global Meetings Industry Day, we explore how the City of London venue plans to harness the true power of events to champion the wider community.

Streets of London funds specialist support for people who are homeless in London, as well as raising awareness and changing perceptions about homelessness. Since 2010, the charity has provided more than £750,000 to fund specialist services that support those experiencing homelessness and this year has committed a record £150,000 to ten projects across London that offer life-changing assistance to people living on the streets.

We sat down with Alicia Duncan, Venue Director, The Mermaid London, to learn more about the central London venue’s chosen charity and how the team plan to turn meetings into money to help Streets of London fulfil their fundraising goals.

What inspired you to partner with Streets of London this year?

This year more than ever, we wanted to demonstrate the true power of events from the outset, which is why we continued supporting Streets of London following a £5,000 donation last year. The events industry exists to foster human connection, not just among event professionals, but in the wider community too. As a central London venue, we feel it is our responsibility to represent a wider group of people from all walks of life and leverage our own business opportunities to tackle a much deeper, and poignant, social issue.

 

We wanted to become a beacon within the sector for all those suffering from homelessness, to raise awareness of, and to demonstrate to the wider industry that our values encompass more than meetings and events. We want to demonstrate that we’re all valuable members of society, and that there is hope for those who are struggling on the streets.

 

What makes The Mermaid London unique to be able to offer this support?

Located within the City of London, The Mermaid London is the ideal place to host any upcoming fundraising events for Streets of London, which is something we’re currently looking into. Raising awareness is one of our main priorities, and we’re determined to get the message out there to as many pockets of society as we can, as we cater to many different groups, from corporations to associations, from agencies to private bookings.

Our versatile venue also allows us to establish lasting relationships and deliver events to a wealth of sectors and types of meetings, from exhibitions and conferences to summits, both in the private and public sector, and we’re ensuring the Streets of London messaging is included in as many of our communications as possible.

How are you planning to support the charity this year?

We have ventured on a year-long fundraising mission which entails a donation of £1 for every delegate who attends the venue on a Day Delegate Rate (DDR), increasing to £5 for every festive party guest from December 2023 until March 2024.

 

Streets of London is the core priority across many of our marketing and PR campaigns this year. We’re striving to become charity champions by using our platforms to broadcast the message, raise awareness on social media and via email campaigns, and update media publications on our fundraising efforts. The Streets of London logo is displayed proudly on our website, directing web visitors to the charity’s website where they can find out more about the cause and how they can help as individuals.

What vision do you have for The Mermaid London and Streets of London partnership?

We’d love to help educate our team on homelessness so we can all become Streets of London champions, and for our efforts to help change perceptions about those who suffer on the streets. In our discussions with the charity, it’s come to light that the most common misconception about homelessness is that people become homeless through choice, when this can be due to a number of things ranging from redundancy, relationship breakdown, addiction, poor mental health, a tenancy coming to an end, domestic abuse, complex trauma, and struggling to cope with grief, among other reasons. Once someone becomes homeless, it can be hard to escape from their situation without sustained support.

 

Long-term visions for our partnership include hosting organised events at The Mermaid London, to see our spaces used for more worthy causes, and for our team to take part as individuals in fundraising efforts and organised charity events such as the Streets of London Sleep-Out in October.

 

We have set a fundraising goal of £20,000 for the end of the year, which is why every event booked at The Mermaid London really will help Make Meetings Matter and help create a more humane, understanding, and inclusive London.

 

How does Streets of London founder and director, Ian Steuart Fothringham, feel about The Mermaid’s Support?

There are now more than three times the number of people sleeping rough in London than there were in 2006, when I started working in the sector. The cost-of-living crisis – set against a backdrop of unaffordable housing – is also having a huge impact, leading in recent months to a steep increase in the number of people becoming homeless for the first time. The homeless sector in London is bracing for more and more such people needing their services in the year ahead.

 

Homelessness robs people of their basic dignity, but the bottom line is that someone experiencing homelessness deserves our respect just as much as anyone else. We’re very grateful to have The Mermaid London’s ongoing support for our work, following their generous donation of £5,000 last year. The money they donate in support of Streets of London will make a real difference to what we’re able to achieve in the coming year, and it’s very helpful to have corporate supporters such as The Mermaid London using their platform to champion our work and helping to provide visibility for this important issue.

 

We are also looking forward to working with The Mermaid London’s team who will be participating in the sixth annual Streets of London Sleep-Out later this year. We’re hoping to exceed last year’s fundraising total of £60,000, and we encourage other conference venues or businesses within London to consider this annual event as a team-building activity for the workplace. People experiencing homelessness need all the help they can get – and The Mermaid London’s support as a venue and as a workforce will help towards changing the lives of people on the streets.