Bringing people together
If you speak to people in Islington and ask them what the best thing about the borough is, most will say diversity. Islington is home to people from all over the world, and there is lots going on to celebrate our different cultures and bring people together.
The Great Get Together weekend last year was the biggest community celebration of 2017. Islington Council awarded grants of up to £500 for 19 events, including one by Islington Faiths Forum at Muslim Welfare House, that brought residents together to share what they have in common. More events are being planned again for this year and details will be released nearer the time.
But it’s not only the work of the council and its partners that brings people together. Local people themselves are setting up their own projects to support Islington’s communities.
Like Speak Street, a pop-up language cafe that offers free English classes to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as well as foreign language classes and events.
Its founder Joanna says: “Living in Islington where 145 different languages are spoken, I wanted to do a positive response to the negativity to immigrants. This was a positive step that I can help people improve their language skills, but also meet their neighbours and not feel so isolated. Even people who can speak English well can still feel isolated.
For its volunteers and students, they get to improve their language skills but it’s more than that. “It’s meeting people from the local community,” says Joanna. “It’s been described to me as a big family. Everyone gets a warm welcome and can practice speaking another language in a comfortable and friendly environment.”