It’s truly excellent news that Dalston Roof Park is back open for the summer with a new look for 2017. There’s now a retractable roof to go with the two decently stocked bars, the delectable cuisine from Far Out Food and the curated line-up of top events and film screenings.
Seasoned city explorers will have probably graced this rooftop before (and perhaps groaned at the £3 cover charge). But while the bar itself pretty is well-known, the cause behind it isn’t. The Roof Park is owned by the Bootstrap Company – a registered charity established back in the 70s to encourage entrepreneurship in the local area and support residents to improve their employability skills. The charity now provides affordable workspace, runs enterprise bootcamps for local young people and even has its own Bootstrap Fund to support high impact businesses. All proceeds from the bar – including the £3 entry fee – go towards supporting the work of the charity. So well worth the cost when you think about it.
— Bootstrap Company (@bootstrapco) March 14, 2017
The Roof Park itself is also run according to the same social principles – check out the events calendar and you’ll find all kinds of community and fundraising events benefitting the local community. And the rooftop venue is just one of three community spaces managed by the charity: there’s also a World War Two Bunker and a Bee Garden.
These are three beautiful example of how disused urban spaces in deprived areas can be transformed for the benefit of the whole community (rather than, say, being sold to developers and turned into luxury flats). The Bee Garden, for example, started life as an abandoned car park. In its place, the Bootstrap has fashioned a growing community garden with workshops for small businesses – currently occupied by emerging designers from the local area – and a home to some special bees.
The Roof Park had similarly humble beginnings – as a collection of allotments looked after by local volunteer gardeners, with a pop-up bar and a small programme of events. It has since seen a huge rise in popularity off the back of Dalston’s new-found reputation as one of the city’s prime nightlife spots, but it has achieved this in an inclusive way. All profits are recycled to give a foot-up to those who struggled through the areas less successful past… social enterprise at its brilliant best.
— mero retro (@meroretro) 20 June 2017
If you want to do that little bit extra to support the cause (and get yourself free and discounted access to the Roof Park in the process), it’s only £12 to become a friend of the charity for the year.