Enigma Lunches — What it is…

“As well as the 456,976 possible starting positions for any set of four wheels, this Enigma machine offers further variations in settings which means that there are 4,134 million possible ways in which it could be set up.” Alan Turing Institute, The British Library

Throughout 2018, in honour of Hammersmith United Charities’ 400th anniversary, we are celebrating the rich diversity of the local area through a curated monthly lunch series called “The Enigma Lunches.”

Inspired by a cross-communal lunch we hosted last year as part of our PhD student, Carolyn Defrin’s research, and Alan Turing’s WWII Enigma Code-cracking (that transpired as a result of a casual chance encounter with a secretary);  we are excited to see what might emerge when different people come together around food, art and casual conversation.

Each month’s lunch will be hosted by different cultural community centres throughout the borough, and showcase associated food and arts activities. Additionally, each lunch will coincide with the republication of a memoir originally published during the 80s and 90s from the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Communities Oral History Project.

Enigma Lunch 1 – “Igniting sparks”


The place: LIDO foundation, W11 4TE

The food: Local Somali

The people: guests from local Hammersmith communities including older people housed by Hammersmith United Charities, members affiliated with LIDO Foundation, Anti-Tribalism Movement, and Good Effort for Health and Well-being

The artistic provocation: Music and poetry

The featured oral history: “Somali Sailors”



– Quick reflections –

By Carolyn Defrin

It took some cajoling to encourage those who didn’t know one another to sit at the same table. Of course it is more comforting to drift towards those we know. I had to consciously remind myself not to linger in the ease of familiar smiles.

But slowly, slowly a young Somali man made his way to sit with some older people housed by Hammersmith United Charities.  I joined a table with Adam Matan, the Director of the Somali organization, Anti-Tribalism Movement, Julian Hilman, a trustee at HUC, Sara, a young mother, and Ulick Tarabanov, the founder of London Sports Trust.

The conversations jumped between music and poetry. Adam told me about the incredible young Somali poet, Farah Gabdon


I cleared my plate and got a slice of delicious, homemade spiced cake. When I returned, the dialogue had drifted into some deeper issues of Sara’s struggle to understand the needs of her 16 year-old daughter.

“She likes to fight with people. She loves sports. She wears trainers and sport clothes”

“We’ve just funded a boxing program that will be set up for young girls and boys at the local Phoenix school,” says Julian.

Sara’s eyes light up.

Adam takes her details and will put her in touch.

Sara then turns to me and asks what I do.

“I’ve been working with the charity to understand the role of the arts for local communities.”

“Do I need training to work with communities?” she asks. ”I want to do something with children.”

Liban, our host, gives a brief talk about where we are: in the new digs of his organization, The Lido Foundation. He tells of the early days, finding home in one location and then the next, volunteering time to speak with and help as many children and families from the local Somali migrant community as possible. And the weaving winding way he discovered other amazing Somali organisations in the area and how funders, like Hammersmith United Charities have helped them grow and grow.

Link to Liban’s talk:

Melanie, my co-curator, grants manager, and the Head of Community Partnerships at Hammersmith United Charities, shares the re-publication of the “Somali sailors” –one of many oral histories from the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Minorities Oral History project that is being digitally republished this year as part of the charity’s 400th anniversary.

Link to Melanie speech:

I see Sara again as she is heading out and introduce her to Melanie. Melanie says: “Get my contact details from Sagal, (her friend who invited her, who also runs the wonderful “Good Effort for Health and Well-Being” organization that supports sexual health for women and children.) “This way,” says Melanie, “we can have a chat and speak more about your desires to work in communities.”

So many little sparks are ignited…Let’s see where they lead

Stay tuned for the next Enigma lunch in February to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Hammersmith Reflections

A blog written by our Trustees - Julian Hillman

February can be a sad month, fortitude tested by continuing winter, with summer still a long way off.  Sad for me personally, because I have to stand down as a trustee of Hammersmith Unite Charities (HUC) after 12+ years and also because Oxfam (more…)

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Aunt Esther’s Story – Enigma Event

Last Saturday we had our second Enigma Event in partnership with “Women Make Change” who put together a great event for International Women’s Day. Women Make Change is a charity that promotes and protects the health and safety of women and girls affected by domestic violence.

Melanie Nock took the chance to introduce Aunt Esther’s Story. Esther Bruce’s autobiography written by Stephen Bourne tells the story of a black London Seamstress from 1912–1994 and provides a first-hand account of the life of a black Londoner in the pre-Empire Windrush years. When Esther Bruce was born in Fulham in 1912 only small black communities exited in Britain.

Another big announcement was the launch of the “Agents for Change” Women’s Leadership Programme that we founded in partnership with the H&F Council, the Imperial College and the Lyric Hammersmith.

Applycations are open now, find more information here: http://www.agentsforchange.wixsite.com/agentsforchange 





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JOY is a new strand to the Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Fest celebrating local disabled (more…)

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Women Make Change – International Womens Day Event

Where: White City Community Centre
When: Saturday, 10.03.2018 starting at 3.30 (more…)

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