In the autumn of 2011, in response to the riots and social unrest of the preceding summer, a small group of Unitarians committed to social outreach met together in London and started talking about what a consolidated UK-wide effort could look like. Having an under-used church building in East London with no active congregation potentially available, we discussed creating a centre for training that would include a "living lab" of on-the-ground programming to enrich the lives of local residents and give UK Unitarians a place to meet, volunteer and be inspired by. What came out of this was SimpleGifts: Unitarian Centre for Social Action.
With support from the LDPA (London District and Provincial Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches) and the Chalice Foundation (the board of trustees responsible for the Mansford Street building), we formed a small committee, chaired by Rev David Usher and run by Rev Rob Gregson and Ann Howell. We opened our doors in May 2012 and haven't looked back!