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Newsletter 11                                                                                             June 2016

Photo by Charles Adeyemi

Soul in the City

Soul in the City is St Mary’s annual community festival, comprising a variety of free events, workshops and activities for the residents of Islington. As a new member of Youth Club staff, and a relatively recent resident of London, this was a first experience for me. This year’s festival took place 31 May to 6 June, with a variety of workshops available in the week for young people, including digital film, nail art and urban art.

I volunteered at the Family Fun Day on Saturday 4 June, which was a great opportunity to meet more members of the local community. The sun didn’t quite have its hat on but the weather was warm and the atmosphere was lively, with many community members turning out to enjoy live music, dancing, a street café and more! Several prominent members of the community were in attendance including the Mayor of Islington. I spent most of my time between the bouncy castle, giveaway book stand and the craft table (which was particularly popular!).

During the week, Youth Club member Malcom ran the digital film workshop, with attendees supporting him at the Fun Day to film the event and take photos. Editing of a celebratory video is underway with the support of St Mary’s curate Gloria – watch this space! Feedback from children, young people and families was great, with many expressing disappointment when festivities came to a close at 5pm. Thanks to everyone at St Mary’s for such a fantastic event – and see you next year!

Sally Cochrane
Project Delivery Manager

Meet the Team:
Yvonne

If you pick up the phone to hire a space from Mary’s or if you pop in to check what time a session is on, it’ll be Yvonne’s friendly voice that you hear. Yvonne is Mary’s Bookings Administrator and Receptionist and has worked with the team since December 2014, dealing with the many groups who use Mary’s Rooms both over the phone and face-to-face. Surprisingly for someone who is often appreciated for her warm welcome, Yvonne admits she didn’t always find it easy.  “I’m quite a shy person naturally,” she says, “But in a job like this there’s an element of playing a role, so I guess I’ve got used to talking to people.  I like to help people make sure they’ve got a booking that suits them and I try to invite them to come and see the spaces before they commit.  Then when they’re here it’s always a pleasure to put a face to a voice.”  By offering what she calls a ‘try before you buy’ service, Yvonne does her best to ensure real customer satisfaction – something she knows a great deal about after years working for Motability and Boots.  She puts a great emphasis on listening properly on the phone and is proud of her ability to convince people that she understands what they need.  She describes herself as “a smile on the phone” and if you’ve dealt with her you’ll recognise that charming, warm and listening tone straight away.

Working for Mary’s means Yvonne can participate in bringing people together – a deep motivation for her.  As a London girl herself, she loves to make the most of the city.  In fact her enjoyment of eating out means she’ll probably give you a recommendation for an interesting place to eat as well!  She also loves to travel, visited St Lucia and Jamaica last year and Croatia more recently.  And these are only a drop in what she calls her ‘bucket list’!

Yvonne isn’t just great at her job – she’s a friendly, Mary’s sort of person who’ll you’ll be glad to get to know.

Book a Room

Community Feature:
Weight Watchers

Weightwatchers runs a series of four sessions on Tuesdays in the Crypt, catering to around 90 people every week, providing encouragement and support for their lifestyle changes.  Vikki Humphreys leads the sessions, which largely run as a ‘pop-in’ for people to get the help they need to be where they want to be.  “If someone wants to talk,” says Vikki, “I’ll be there to talk.  Someone was there for me on my journey and if I can do the same then I will.”  Vikki’s own story is of a real change in her lifestyle and habits, losing several stone in weight and becoming so confident that she now wants to help others too.  “It’s a diverse group of people who come,” she says.  “In January a lot of people join who’ve made resolutions, others want to lose weight for a holiday, but some people have been coming along for five years.”  Weightwatchers’ appeal to a range of people across the community mirrors Mary’s intention to be a Force for Good here in Islington.

With such a large number of people coming along and a regular talk given at the evening session, Weightwatchers need a venue that provides space, accessibility, good transport links and a warm welcome.  At Mary’s we’re happy to be that roof over their heads.

Weightwatchers holds sessions on Tuesdays
9.30am, 11.30am, 4.00pm, 6.00pm

Vikki’s proud ‘Before and After’ shot

Find out more!

Youth Club Grant for Mary’s Gym Redevelopment 

In late 2015 a group of young people at Mary’s Youth Club got together to bid for funds to redevelop the gym at the community centre.  Whether or not they were successful, the group were committed to learning by doing, improving their employability by experiencing the processes, running their own meetings, working with professionals and pitching their bid.  The measure of their success isn’t just that the bid was successful but that the group have managed to kick-start a project that will have real benefits for the whole Mary’s family for years to come.
Sport England Inspired Facilities fund have pledged £49522 to the project which should see 95% of the current gym equipment replaced, bright new decoration, new lighting, ventilation and double glazing.  The team plan to install at least 10 new pieces of equipment including treadmills and exercise bikes, all of which should help the gym become a future avenue to employability as young people have the opportunity to train and qualify as paid fitness instructors.  But the space won’t be bare or spartan – volunteer support from Dalziel and Pow design and Graham Wright architecture have helped the team to create a vision for the space that should integrate it with the community centre as well as providing a vibrant, inviting space for young people in the community and even possible new room bookings.
The process of applying for the grant was a valuable experience for the whole Youth Club, including a great deal of project planning, a community consultation and series of design meetings.  The new gym, which should be ready by the end of 2016, will testify to the hard work of the young people, the very valuable support of our community partners and the improving offer that Mary’s can make to Islington.
The Mary’s Gym Development Refurbishment Project Team are: Joseph, 20; Louis, 16; Aissato, 17; Rhianna, 21; Daisy, 17; Ana, 17.

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