To mark International Women’s Day 2017, we brought together 100 inspirational Islington women to celebrate their contributions to the borough and beyond, and to showcase the impact that can be made when communities work together to create their own solutions.
We would like to thank our remarkable speakers – Abi Billinghurst, Val Henney, Lesley Seary, Amy Veitch and Maggie Elliott, who embody this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BeBoldforChange.
We would also like to thank to team at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Islington for hosting and sponsoring today’s event. The hotel’s contribution of time and space is an example of how large and small businesses can give back to the borough.
Islington and Islington Giving
Lesley Seary, Chief Executive of Islington Council, spoke today about the need for more opportunities for children and young people growing up in Islington. She emphasised the importance of celebrating success at all levels and giving time to talk up the achievements and potential of women throughout society. Islington Council supports the growth of Islington Giving and enables our work to reach more Islington residents.
The event began with Maggie Elliot, Vice Chair of Islington Giving and Chair of Cloudesley Charity, giving an overview of the pressures facing Islington residents today, and the achievements that have been made possible by the many people involved in Islington Giving.
The needs of Islington’s residents are greater than ever, with 40,000 living in poverty – including over one-third of Islington’s children – and the fifth highest level of older people suffering deprivation in England. The impact of poverty reaches every aspect of life, including health. If you are poor in Islington, you are more likely to suffer from serious physical and mental health problems. Life expectancy for men in the borough is one of the lowest in the country, and we have England’s highest rate of serious mental ill-health.
However, at the same time, Islington benefits from one of the most vibrant voluntary and community sectors in the country, which means we have the expertise and opportunities to help create positive change for Islington residents. Islington Giving brings together ‘unusual suspects’ – residents, businesses, funders and voluntary organisations to tackle poverty and inequality in their backyard. Through this sharing of knowledge and resources, we have so far been able to raise £5million since starting in 2010, to fund over 60 carefully selected groups in the borough – including Abianda and Help on Your Doorstep – Connect (HOYD).
Good Neighbours Scheme – Val Henney and Help on Your Doorstep – Connect
Val Henney, a co-ordinator for HOYD’s Good Neighbours Scheme, discussed how her work started on the New River Green Estate in 2011. The Scheme’s success has led to it being launched in three more Islington Estates – Priory Green, Andover, and Bemerton. The scheme aims to engage local residents and bring them together as a community to create positive change, through providing targeted activities and services that tackle isolation and improve health and wellbeing. The impact of this community work is exemplified by Nicky Ludgate, a local resident, who started volunteering on one the scheme, and is now a member of staff at HOYD, running the New River Green Estate programme. The involvement of residents like Val and Nicky demonstrates the empowerment that can come when the people who live in an area are encouraged to talk openly about their needs, and can contribute to designing their own solutions.
Abi Billinghurst and Abianda
Abi Billinghurst, founder of Abianda, works to support and empower young women who have been affected by gangs. Abianda aims to change the way services are delivered, so they are more effectively able to respond, by shifting the central question asked of women affected by gang-involvement from ‘what is she doing wrong’, to ‘how has she managed to survive?’
From Abi: “By flipping the coin in that very simple way, we open up a whole tapestry of resources, skills, and strategies that she’s been deploying to navigate the adversity and risks in her life. What we then find with a focus on competence, rather than on problem – where it feels like change can never really happen quickly – is that young women are actually taking control of change, and being real change-makers in their lives and in their communities.”
With the support of Islington Giving, Abianda runs the STAR project for 16-24-year-olds in the borough. Lorraine, who helps to deliver this programme, is co-located with the Islington Integrated Gangs Team, meaning that it’s a very multidisciplinary response; whilst the Abianda team bring in a very specific gendered understanding of the issues around the young women that they are working with.
Amy Veitch and Macquarie
As Board Member of Islington Giving, and Head of Prudential, Capital and Markets, EMEA and Americas at Macquarie, Amy Veitch discussed her close personal and professional connection with Islington. From its offices on Ropemaker Street, Macquarie and the Macquarie Group Foundation contribute to Islington Giving’s work with businesses, to inspire volunteers to lend their expertise to offer new opportunities for Islington’s young people. The boost in confidence that can come from being invited into parts of the city that were previously closed off can have a lifelong impact.
Islington Giving is built on the principle that everyone can give. We believe that by taking a collaborative approach, to finding effective solutions for local needs, everyone involved can help each other to achieve more. You can be part of Islington Giving by giving your time, energy, expertise or money. Click here, or contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org, or 020 7288 6941.