Party spirit at community centre

Friday, 2nd August 2019 — By Calum Fraser and Helen Chapman

Street party people at an event hosted by Arc Centre

Street party people at an event hosted by Arc Centre

Damien Brown woke up in despair as it was “pouring with rain” on the day he had organised a street party to encourage residents to join a community centre.

The 36-year-old who lives near Old Street said that there was also a “stream of cancellations” last Saturday morning on the day the weather broke.

He shook this off and with an army of volunteers he set up an outdoor coffee bar, a stage and a party area in time to host the Arc Centre street party in the Angel.

Damien, who has been running the community centre for about two years, said: “We want to reinvent the traditional community centre, follow in the steps of places like St Luke’s. So many community spaces are closed or are closing, but we think we can do something special here. The aim of the party was to get the word out and we want the whole cross- section of Islington life to feel welcome here.”

The party ran from 1pm to 8pm and more than 180 free cups of coffee were given out, while about 30 children were treated to a magic show and face painting. There were also block-printing and clay- making workshops and an open mic in the evening.

Damien is planning to open a café permanently in the community centre. He said he is open to suggestions from nearby residents about what direction they should take the centre in and what kind of activities they would like. The Arc Centre is at 98b St Paul Street, N1 7DF. For more information call 020 7683 1281 or go to

Building trust in stop and search

Sheri Lawal (left)

The borough’s stop and search watchdog is calling on residents to join them in a bid to hold the police to account.

Sheri Lawal, who took over from Katrina Ffrench as the chairwoman of the Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group (SSCMG) last October, says it is vital that anyone who has any complaints about the police should join her at monthly meetings.

SSCMG has access to police data and reports on stop and searches as well as seeing “dip-samples” of body-worn camera during incidents.

Sheri, who grew up in Archway, said: “We can get about 20 people to the meetings. Usually form people who have been stopped and searched and not had good experiences. There are children who have been stopped and don’t really know why. Or there are those who are stopped repeatedly.”

Sheri believes one of the biggest issues the Met faces when it comes to stop and search is trust. There is very little trust between he community and the police, she says. This is something she believes she can change. She added: “I like to feel people find they can approach me and they will be dealt with confidentially, I think I do have the trust of community.”

Sheri worked in housing for about 20 years before she started her own social enterprise called Choices London which helps people who are struggling with housing, benefits, jobs, social care and so on.

Stop and Search meetings are held on the first Monday of every month at Islington Town Hall. Upcoming meetings at to be held on August 9 and September 7.

An afternoon down on the farm

Members of Islington Stroke Club enjoying afternoon tea at Freightliners Farm’s café

The South Islington Stroke Club, including stroke survivors, carers and volunteers, braved the heatwave to visit Freightliners Farm last Thursday. Evelyn Thomas, chair of the club, said: “It is a very special event for people who can’t get out of their houses. Some of the group had never been there before. They found it a comfortable and peaceful setting.”

The group of 15 enjoyed homemade sandwiches and brownies from the farm café before having a look at the goats, pigs and geese in the pond.

During school term time, the Stroke Club meets at St Mary’s Community Centre, Upper Street on Thursdays. The group are not meeting in August. More information at

For more information about Freightliners Farm in Sheringham Road, Holloway, go to

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