[This piece was originally posted on Here To Islington’s blog which can be viewed here]
Islington Council’s Community Chest Celebration was filled with entertainment on Wednesday, with countless stalls and entertainment including music and line dancing at the North London borough’s Assemly Hall.
Here to Islington’s volunteering table, which was run by community development co-ordinator, Joanna Bevan, were producing feel-good cards to hand out to people in the festival.
Kristina Glenn, the Director of the Cripplegate Foundation who work closely alongside Islington Council, said: “There’s a real grassroots movement in our borough. Other local areas are cutting back on funding whereas in the Islington borough it continues to invest in the community.”
Jugjit Samra, voluntary and community sector development officer, writes the committee report with Cripplegate Foundation and told Here to Islington: “The council funds Cripplegate to fund the Community Chest Programme. Most groups wouldn’t get funding otherwise [but] the maximum a group can get is five grand.”
The community spirit was lifted in Islington Assemly Hall by the Baluji Music Foundation who graced the stage with the enchanting harmonies of the Inner Vision Trio. The band, whose primary aim is “to bring together blind musicians and make music from around the world”, consisted of singer, Fereshteh Khousroujerdy who hails from Iran, singer and oud player, Ziad Sinno from Lebanon and South Indian drummer, Ghow Ratnarajah from Sri Lanka. The crowd joined in with claps aplenty when the band played the popular Arabic song, دقي يا ربابه, of which the catchy chorus is ‘Diggy Diggy Ya Rababa’.
The Islington Community Chest is a great way of funding the vital support that groups like Here to Islington provide. The main areas of improvement and investment that Cripplegate Foundation’s Finance and Programme’s Officer, Ruth Lorimer, laid out to the audience are:
>Advice and Support
>Improving mental and physical health
Ruth Hayes, 55, Islington Law Center Director emphasised the importance of the Community Chest Programme and Islington Giving Week when she said: “I think it’s [Islington] a borough that’s becoming increasingly unequal. Financially, the impact of welfare reform and income inequality have created a split of class in the borough.”
Phil Burns, 49, Islington Citizen Advice BureauManager, reinforced Ruth’s point: “Nobody realises it but Islington actually has the second biggest child poverty in London. There is an ever-growing number of people out of work or in debt.”
The Packington Line Dancers, who have been keeping Islington locals fit for almost 18 years, entertained the hardworking volunteers and reignited the feeling of true community spirit.
Islington youth group, Amberliegh, performed traditional African dance in colourful dress and to enthusiastic spectators. The cultural drumming, drama and dance music group for children of all abilities and disabilities followed the earlier acts, reflecting the diversity of Islington and its community.
Other community groups included the Handmade Alliance which helps to rehabilitate prisoners through textile production and the Federation of Iraqi Refugees.
Hament Patel, Director of Organisational Change Practitioners, summed up the day when he said: “It’s about sharing knowledge, information and awareness raising.”