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Cue Christmas – in the carol queue

Who’s been making the news round your way this week?

05 January, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Rose and Mimi enjoying the carols

TEACHER Rose and her girlfriend Mimi started queuing from 4pm to get into the annual Union Chapel candlelight concert – three hours before the designated start time.

Both had missed the carols in 2016 after finding the church was packed to the rafters and they couldn’t get in.

“The queue was quite small this year because of the rain,” said Rose. “We found the carols exciting, festive and nostalgic. It was lovely to feel part of something so encompassing the local community. The lighting of the candles was the most moving part – watching the flames spread around the dark space and it passing between strangers.”

Rose said she particularly enjoyed the performance from the venue’s artist in residence, Boe Huntress. “She gave the concert a modern twist,” she said.

The event raised a whopping £3,500 for the Jo Cox Foundation, a charity that brings together communities in memory of the slain MP, and CARIS Islington, a homelessness and bereavement charity.

• To find out more about future events go to: www.unionchapel.org.uk

Now we’re talking: Speak Street party

The mayor, far left, joins partygoers celebrating Speak Street’s third birthday

A SOCIAL enterprise that seeks to counter the negative feelings towards immigration celebrated its third birthday with a big party in December. Speak Street offers free language classes across the capital to those struggling to integrate because of a language barrier.

“It’s a way to celebrate a diverse community,” said founder Joanna Bevan from Archway. “I think Islington alone has around a 145 languages spoken and we have a lot of benefits from that. It’s a way to do something positive.”

Having lived in a handful of different countries, Joanna says she knows the importance of learning a language. “Although it is different from being an immigrant I’ve been a foreigner several different times and I draw on these experiences,” she said.

Of the celebrations, which featured a special cake, drumming and a visit from the Mayor of Islington Cllr Una O’Halloran, Joanna said: “It was fantastic, it’s been growing every year and we get more and more volunteers.

“I felt it was important to mark the occasion because you can get caught up, it was heartwarming to sit back and celebrate.”

• To find out more go to: www.speak-street.com

Music and Santa add to club’s festivities

Community Police Officer Lee Campbell and Hannah Gordon

THE over-60s lunch club at the Whittington Park Community Association enjoyed a festive meal as more than 60 people gathered at the community centre in the park for a Christmas feast lovingly prepared and served by 24 volunteers.

Santa led the entertainment and the guests belted out of carols at the piano.

Linda Doherty and Santa

“It went very well, this year we got someone to bring live music,” said Alex Schmidt, who has been running the lunch club for a year and a half.

“There was a singalong, a bit of bands playing, some people had a dance, there was a good spirit and a good turn out. Can’t complain – it was very jolly,” he said.

The next big social event the community association will be running is a ceilidh on February 3 – a traditional Gaelic gathering.

Guests tuck into lunch

“We’re delighted to have volunteers and sponsorship from Drivers & Norris, and funding from the Waitrose’s ‘Community Matters’ green token scheme to help fund this annual highlight for our older residents,” added Loan Tran, project development worker at the association.

• More information on future events at the community club can be found at www.whittingtonpca.org.uk

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