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London's first environmentally and socially conscious members’ club

London’s first environmentally and socially conscious members’ club

Members clubs are often something we associate with luxury and, to many of us, unattainability.

A new genre of clubs are opening across London, offering a modern working environment alongside sophisticated leisure facilities, with an additional emphasis on promoting social change. Soho House often springs to mind with it’s instagrammable buildings, stylish interior and pricey membership.

But, what about a members’ club with a social purpose, that has less emphasis on status?

The latest in London is an environmentally and socially aware members’ club, with a bit more substance. The first of it’s kind, The Conduit, officially opened its doors in Mayfair in August. The club aims to create a community that is, according to their website, “curious, authentic, generous and action-orientated and believes in the power of collaboration to create a better future.” The decor of the building itself is made from tonnes (literally) of recycled materials, to reflect the values the owners hold.

The two founding members, Rowan Finnegan and Paul van Zyl are passionate about making their vision a reality. Finnegan the founder of sustainable investment firm, Regenerative Investment, and van Zyl served on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating apartheid-era human rights abuses, before setting up a sustainably minded clothing brand.

To gain membership, you aren’t judged by the industry you work in or your standing in society, but  a strong social conscience. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you want to do good in the world and make a positive impact on society. Anyone wanting to join will have to put forward their reasons and submit “proof of their commitment to social change”.

There is a personal and ambitious aim behind this. Co-founder, Van Zyl  sensed a need for stability and connection among a growing jet-setting group interested in social causes.  The founders are hoping to recreate the atmosphere of global forums. “I had been to the Skoll World Forum, Davos, TED Africa. It comes to an end and you go back to your day jobs. I think we were all grappling with how you build a permanent community for these people’” says Van Zyl.

Although the club houses a Michelin-starred chef and features multiple stylish bars, The Conduit really stresses the importance of its programme of talks open to members. Subjects range from climate change and sustainability, to women’s empowerment.

The vision is that The Conduit will not just be the home of NGO leaders and philanthropic communities, but that it will provide a connection between them and those with the finances to support them.

At Sussex, we believe more knowledge, means more change. Ranked first in the world for Development Studies (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018), our Sustainable Development MSc is at the forefront of academic study.

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