Helgi's - a blast from the past
This bar is a true labour of love. We took over in August 2018, with the view to create a space that didn't exist anywhere else in the UK and that reflects our tastes - 60s/70s heavy rock, psychedelia, and the occult & horror, with our heart and soul completely ingrained in the building.
We decorated it ourselves from the ground up, most of the music you hear us play is from our own collections, and we curate and book our own events completely according to our taste - we'd never book a band or dj that we didn't believe in. Over the last two years an awesome community of artists, musicians and music lovers has opened up their hearts to our bar and makes up our core audience. To be told time and time again that this is their home and that London was crying out for a bar like this is very humbling - without these people we'd be nothing.
We're 100% independent, we're not connected to any brewery or have any investors and we survive purely on our fantastically loyal customers and supporters, word of mouth, and putting on unmissable events in Hackney - the best djs and bands the psych/punk/heavy metal/rock n roll underground has to offer, along with a cinema, regular talks, art events, a monthly market, and our soon to be opened kitchen. We've worked so hard to get to the position we're in, but due to the coronavirus outbreak currently crippling our industry and our country, it's now become a very uphill battle - we're closed, which means no money coming in, our staff without a job, bills being unpaid, the venue falling into disrepair.. it's a very unfortunate situation for us and our workers.
How covid-19 hit us hard
We voluntarily closed our doors on the 17th of March due to the covid-19 pandemic and directions from the government on the 13th of March to "avoid bars, clubs and restaurants", with no enforced closure. As you can imagine, these directions greatly affected our business - not only were they unclear (pubs can stay open, but don't go to them?), but with no mandated closure they also threw our industry under a bus. With the saftey of our staff and customers our priority, government directions being insufficient, and after a weekend where a good portion of our regulars decided to stay in and start isolating, we had no choice but to close. We wanted to stay open and explored every possible avenue in which we could, but with everyone in mind that works in and enjoys our building and in solidarity with other venues across town that have chosen to shut doors for the same reasons, we thought it best to close until it is safe to open again. But this left us in a very uncertain position financially.
We want to provide an income for our staff for the shifts they should be working right now, our team is so important to us and it would be devastating to lose them and see them go through any hardship. Debts are also mounting up while we remain closed - with the bar lying dormant, there are many current and coming utility bills and invoices that are hard to square up. There are also many essential and unfinished repairs and improvements that need to be made that cannot be completed without money coming in.
Just after posting this campaign, the government announced the forced closure of bars and restaurants from the 21st of March, and that government-backed financial help would be available for businesses to apply for through their bank. While we've kept our eye on this and filled in relevant documents, we're still as yet unsure if we meet the criteria, if the terms are acceptable, and when things would be likely to kick in. With virtually every business affected applying, this has resulted in lengthy wait times for a response, which we are currently experiencing. As of mid April, we've still been unable to access any of the government grants and loans that have been made available.
And no one even knows when this lockdown is likely to end! We've kept a keen eye on how other nations are dealing with this situation, and in Italy there is talk that once the lockdown is lifted, bars and live venues will be the last on the agenda to commence trading. We can expect similar measures here. This could be months and months until this ends. With all of this uncertainty, this is where you could help!
A call to arms - help us support our staff!
If you've ever drank, listened, danced, djed, played, or just appreciated anything in our bar, or if you're a far away supporter and circumstances have taken you elsewhere or we're on your list of places to visit, or if you've never been here and you just like the sound of the place, we'd greatly appreciate your support. Any money donated will go towards giving our staff a wage thus saving their jobs, plus paying off any bills we receive, and keeping up the general health and improvement of the venue. We want to reopen our space with it being safer and better than ever, and assure that everyone that works in our building - from staff, to djs, to performers and artists - has a space to come back to when this lockdown ends.
By donating, you are helping us to continue this strange and quirky place in Hackney! All donators will also be invited to a private "supporters only" party planned for one weekend after the lockdown ends. You'll receive the ticket for this party via email. So not only will we have the official reopening party, there will also be this private party where the entire venue will be just for you guys to say thank you for supporting us during this difficult time x
And aside from donations, you can also buy yourself a few things that we'll have waiting for you when we are back open:
pre-buy yourself a pint or several, claim any of our cocktails, get a pass to any one upcoming gig or talk of your choice, or a ticket that gets you in to all of our gigs for 6 months, hire the black room with a drinks discount.. all redeemable when we reopen.
Thanks for your time, your support means the absolute world to us. We hope to see you very soon x