Museum marks 50 years of Islington people’s champ charity
Exhibition features work by lifeline organisation ‘fighting injustice’
08 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Islington People’s Rights workers at the Islington Museum exhibition. From left: Gloria Hill, Derek Jackson, Gerard Omasta-Milsom and Jagruti Depala
A CHARITY fighting “injustice” is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an exhibition at the Islington Museum.
It chronicles the history of Islington People’s Rights (IPR) which started by giving advice from a stall in Chapel Market back in the 1960s.
Their offices are now in Manor Gardens, off Holloway Road, where they help 2,500 people each year by providing support to those in debt or unable to access the welfare benefits they are entitled to claim.
Gloria Hill, who has been a case worker for Islington People’s Rights since 2007, said she enjoyed working for the charity because “I love fighting injustice”.
She added: “It’s rewarding to see someone move on after we’ve helped them take control of their life.
“You can see their relief. We’re talking about giving people a fresh start.”
Ms Hill started the job “by accident” after working at the Department for Work and Pension’s Job Centre.
“I thought I’d like to work for the other side,” she said. “Benefits would be stopped because someone didn’t provide information but now I can see why they didn’t provide information. It’s so positive that Islington People’s Rights have been here for 50 years.”
IPR was born in the 1960s as an off-shoot of the Child Poverty Action Group which had called on the government to increase family allowances to stop children falling into poverty.
The exhibition focuses on how IPR has helped residents during different decades as welfare entitlements changed when different politicians came into power.
IPR chief executive Gerard Omasta-Milsom said: “We’re obviously keen for people to come to the exhibition but also very keen to make the point that, whilst we’ve been around for 50 years, there is a very great need for us to go on because of the years of austerity and Universal Credit.”
Mr Omasta-Milsom, who has been at the helm of the organisation for 10 years, warned of the “grave impact” of the introduction of the Personal Independent Payment to people with disabilities and how deprivation in the borough is on the rise.
Derek Jackson, an IPR case worker, estimated that he had supported thousands of residents fighting their benefits decision made by the DWP.
He added: “Most of them get overturned, around 90 per cent.
“It shows our role is important to make sure people are advocated.
“The chance of winning during an appeal is very good. We don’t want people to give up once their benefits are rejected – they should come to us.”
The exhibition at the Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, runs until January 21.