Jen & Friends

Jennie Matthias

Matchless Gifts (Ham & High), June 2013


From left) Peter O'Grady, director of charity Food for All, Pete Doherty, and Jennie Matthias, manager of Matchless Gifts charity shop

Article by Kitty Knowles in the Ham & High, 22nd June 2013:

A newly opened charity shop in King’s Cross that helps to feed the homeless has won support from rock star Pete Doherty.

Matchless Gifts supports Food For All, a London charity that, with the help of Hare Krishna monks, provides more than 1,000 meals a day to the local homeless community in Camden and Islington.

The charity venture has won the backing of celebrity patron Doherty, who found fame with the Libertines and later formed Babyshambles.

The singer, who once dated supermodel Kate Moss, was guest of honour when the store opened last month and he will raise further funds for Food For All at Brixton Academy gigs this September.

Peter O’Grady, 49, director of Food For All, said: “Pete’s manager is a good friend of ours – there were a lot of people happily going by our shop trying to get a photograph of him at the opening.

“Our aim is to assist those in need to improve their quality of life. It is about rehabilitation and redemption, subjects an artist like Pete is both artistically and personally versed in.”

Mr O’Grady said that homelessness has risen by 25 per cent in the past year, with many unable to find employment or claim basic welfare benefits.

He appealed for donations of sellable goods for the new shop.

“Lots of people have stuff they don’t really need or they don’t really use, so rather than ask people for money, we are asking for goods that are not needed, to recycle and put back into the community, with the proceeds given back to the community,” he said.

“It’s a win-win. You are diverting stuff from going into landfills and getting wasted, and at the same time you’re putting it to a really good cause.

“People can see just around the corner, in York Way, that because of their donation, the needy can come here for meals.”

Matchless Gifts, in Caledonian Road, is managed by Jennie Matthias, former singer of Eighties all-girl band the Belle Stars, who is starting a Share and Wear project providing suits for job interviews.

A number of other musicians have visited the shop, including former members of punk rock bands the Slits and the Clash.

The charity shop was originally a day centre for homeless people, but it was forced to close when council funding was lost.

Food for All’s van distributes meals to the homeless from Monday to Saturday, in Kentish Town at noon, in Camden Town at 1pm and in King’s Cross at 2.15pm.

Matchless Gifts, Camden Journal, June 2013

Pete Doherty cuts a ribbon as shop manager Jennie Matthias and Peter O’Grady, far right, look on

Pete Doherty backs re-launch of Food For All charity shop that feeds area's needy.

Published in the Camden Journal: 6 June, 2013

ROCK star Pete Doherty helped celebrate the re-launch of the Food For All charity shop in King’s Cross this week.

The Caledonian Road shop helps raise funds for the long-standing charity, which provides 1,000 hot meals every day for people in need across Camden, Islington and Westminster.

The shop, Matchless Gifts, relies on donations to help provide food, cooked by Hare Krishna monks. The project also collects food from super­markets, preventing tonnes of waste being sent to landfill every 12 months.

Doherty is donating profits from a Brixton Academy gig in September to the shop.

“There has been a 25 per cent increase in homelessness in Camden this year,” he said. “This will surely rise with so many people struggling to stay afloat.”

Charity director Peter O’Grady said it had been helped by so many people, including Body Shop, in Camden Town, which donated shop fittings when its branch closed. The charity is still looking for donations.

Classic Pop, June 2013

Photo and feature on The Belle Stars, with an interview from Jennie Matthias.

Jen & Friends CD Review


There are unexpected delights that you rarely find but secretly hope you have been told to listen to since it is not always possible to find every amazing band or album. Such is the case of this mostly hidden treasure of the Limited Edition self titled EP from Jen & Friends.

After listening many times over to the five tracks provided you get a very clear picture that you have indeed run across one of those elusive unique treasures that falls in to the category of astounding music.

Jen provides some of the best vocals to be heard lately on almost any CD with her “friends” providing excellent backing and instrumentation that perfectly complements her vocal diversity and range. With a decidedly Ska sound and many elements of Reggae, it stills falls within a distinctive category that defies genre designation. These qualities of vocals and diversity can be heard on every track. Each tune has a different feel and makes a statement that is worth listening closely to for remarkable articulate lyrics that tell a story.

Such is the case especially with “Hope” and “Untouchable” which shows life at different places and yet really is at the same place. Sultry and velvety vocals flow through both songs but break out to an edgier and more upbeat sound to match the catchy music of the latter especially well.

The standout track of this enchanting EP is “Peeping Tom” where spoken word samples are cleverly used to emphasize the lyrics and compliment the yet lower range velvety vocals and the especially sultry music that all the while is making a very strong statement.

This EP is marketed to be a taste of what is to come on the full length CD and these songs appear to not be included in future releases. This makes this EP a must have for any music lover that appreciates quality, unique and articulate music performed exceptionally well. Jen & Friends refer to this as “Intelligent Ska” and you will find this CD to be a perfect example of that and so much more!

Macavity is a contributor to MUEN MAGAZINE.

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