Sporting chance

24 May 2018

Finding ways to help Hopefuls get active can have a huge impact on their long-term wellbeing (both mental and physical), and is one of the most practical ways we can help them. A variety of things can get in the way of young people getting active, including lack of access to all but a very limited selection of sports, cost of clubs, or the fact that parents or carers aren’t necessarily in a position to support them in getting to practices. As a result, more than a third of children in Islington are overweight or obese by the time they leave Primary School, with children from the most deprived areas twice as likely to be obese as those from the least deprived areas.

Last year, we received a grant to cover the cost of a programme of sports taster activities led by specialist coaches, and over the past 10 months we have run classes in dance, badminton, Zumba, tennis, and Mixed Martial Arts or MMA which uses techniques from boxing, kick boxing and Muay Thai, wrestling, Ju-jutsu and judo. The MMA sessions have been a particular favourite with Hopefuls and the benefits go far beyond the physical: the sessions bring together Hopefuls from different age groups and we have seen some fantastic cohesion between young people who otherwise wouldn’t have come into contact with each other. We’ve seen young people’s concentration skills improve as they listen carefully to instructions and take advice from adults and we’ve seen their confidence and resilience grown as they try something they thought they would never be able to do, or that they have failed at in the past.

We’re looking forward to running many more of these kinds of activities in the future.

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Girls Giving Back - Part 2

18 November 2017

Back in the spring, we wrote a blog post about a Nearly New sale that Urban Hope Girls Club hosted to raise money for causes they wanted to support in the local community. The sale raised nearly £700, which the girls decided they wanted to use to contribute to the work of Solace Women's Aid, a charity supporting women and children affected by domestic violence. Solace specified that they most needed children's duvet covers and board games. They also asked for toiletries, which the girls wrapped up in welcome parcels to be given out to women arriving at the refuge.

We are really proud of all the thought, effort and time that the girls have put into making a positive difference in their community this year.

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Summer at Urban Hope

20 July 2017

On Monday we're launching our 2017 Summer Programme of activities to keep young people busy and active over the summer. From 24th July, our weekly timetable looks like this:

Monday 6pm-8pm – Tennis at Rosemary Gardens

Tuesday afternoon – Trip

Wednesday 6.30-8pm – Junior Club (8-12s)

Thursday 3-5pm - Sports taster sessions (11-18s)

. . . read more


Girls Giving Back

17 March 2017

The thing we most want for Urban Hopefuls is that they grow up to fulfilled adults who have good relationships, and are able to play a positive role in their own community. So we are especially proud of our Girls' Club who are organising a Nearly New Sale at Urban Hope to raise money for some community events they'd like to make happen in the coming year.

This is their poster for the sale - we'd love it if lots of people came along to support them. And if you're not able to come on the day but have some clothes you would like to donate, please email

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The same but different

26 June 2016

The Urban Hope team hasn’t been blogging much of late. Partly, that's because it has just been business as usual but really there is nothing usual about the business of youth work. Since our last blog post we have seen young people dealing with exam stress, falling out with friends, falling in love, struggling with bullying, finding themselves homeless, finding a sport they love, having severe health problems, following their dream and achieving success, being excluded from school, getting into trouble with the police, getting into trouble with parents, moving to new schools, learning new skills, making new friends. It’s all familiar and unfamiliar at the same time because every young person is different.

And here are a few of the things we’ve done with Urban Hopefuls in that time:

  • Cooked dozens of meals and sat together around a table to eat them
  • Entered a competition
  • Gone on two residentials
  • Designed t-shirts
  • Attended meetings with schools and social services
  • Hosted a party for residents of a local sheltered housing facility
  • Played hours and hours of table tennis, pool, table football, dobble, uno…
  • Formed a (small!) running club
  • Washed up a lot of pots and pans
  • Held a six-week sketching project
  • Talked about elections, relationships, social media, food, friendships
  • Had a dance-off
  • Held a casting session
  • Run a boxercise session
  • Made badges, keyrings, magnets, papier maché letters, cakes and brownies.
  • Been to the theatre

And the summer has only just begun, so watch this space…

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We will be taking a break from 19th December to 3rd January.

It's been a great year: thank you all for the part you've played in it, whether you've come to sessions, volunteered, donated money or equipment, or just cared about what we are doing.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

Look forward to catching up with you in January.

. . . read more


On Saturday, Urban Hope hosted Community Day at the Almorah Road Community Centre. It’s a free annual fun day that we run for families living in the local area. The weather was gloomy, the ground was a bit soggy and it was unusually cold for the start of September. But, more than 150 people turned up to play games, jump about on the bouncy castle, eat burgers and sausages, play bingo, get their nails or face painted, make things or just have a cup of tea and a chat with neighbours. The youngest was just a few days old, and the oldest over 90, but everyone who came contributed in some way: some brought sausages or a home-made cake, some served tea or helped to clear up, others played with small children, and some simply turned up, smiling, and made an effort to talk to everyone there.

It’s at events like this that connections are made. We love having a chance to meet the families of the young people we work with, and also giving local people of all ages an opportunity to have fun with those who they might not otherwise encounter in their daily lives. Each new conversation or interaction forms a valuable little link in our community.

Our thanks go out to everyone who played a part in what was a great celebration of our local area and the people who live there, and a fine way to mark the end of summer.

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The youth work that we do tends to look a bit different in summer. From next week, all the young people we work with will have a lot of free time at their disposal (those who were sitting exams this year will have finished a while ago). And once the novelty of all that free time has worn off, there’s a high risk that they will start to get bored. If and when that happens, we want to help them channel their energy into positive activities; things that will develop their skills, introduce them to different people, get them outside and running around, give them new perspectives on life, and be fun.

There is a huge amount to do in London but, for many young people, there are barriers to accessing much of it. Part of our job is to help them make the most of all that their city has to offer them by taking them to museums, for walks along the South Bank, and to see street performers in Covent Garden.

Alongside that, we organise our own programme of activities. Funding from Islington Council and from FreeSport has enabled us to put some great summer sports activities again this year. We try to make sure these activities include sports that the young people we work with wouldn’t usually have the chance to try. So this year we’ll be offering free tennis coaching, croquet and rounders among other things.

It’s a great opportunity for them, and a great opportunity for us because the warm weather gets everyone out in the parks and means we can meet young people we might not see at other times of year. We have a window of opportunity over the coming weeks to start forming relationships with a whole new bunch of Urban Hopefuls. And we’re really excited about it.

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Happy endings

31 May 2015

We received a rather special postcard today from a girl we’ve been working with for a long time. She’s been mentored here, come to clubs, cooked with us, eaten with us and joined us on residential trips. She’s had a really difficult time in the past couple of years following a move into foster care: she became involved with a gang and was engaging in a variety of high-risk activities.

Having known her for a long period of time (during which her school life, home life and social services support had changed extensively), we were able to provide a consistent backdrop. It’s that long-term consistent approach that we think enables us to provide something that young people often aren’t able to access elsewhere.

Things took a positive turn a couple of months ago. She’s now been moved out of the area and is living with a new foster family where she has settled well. “I miss you loads,” read the postcard. “I’m having a good time here, it’s different to London”.The message was happy, upbeat, funny – and receiving it was a really uplifting moment in our week. It’s up on the noticeboard now.

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Last night was Ben and Gemma's Urban Hope send-off, and the halls were full of people who’d turned up to celebrate all that he and Gemma have done over the years to make Urban Hope the community it is today. Adults (some now in their 30s) talked about how their lives had been changed by the support that Ben had offered; there were tears as one young man told us how Urban Hope had given him a place to belong to, a family… and there was a lot of laughter and eating.

Here's an extract from Ben's speech. It sums up rather nicely what Urban Hope is all about:

“We started small, and as we grew we called it Urban Hope. We sometimes call ourselves a project or a charity but Urban Hope is not this great fancy organisation, really we’re little more than a movement, a community of relationships. And the special thing is that these relationships help bring kids up in this area. They help people find jobs, find hope, go on trips to the countryside and roll around in mud, learn to sing and play football, enjoy each other’s company, and get help with homework.

Urban Hope is about the 1,400 young people who’ve been part of it over the years, who’ve put their names on a piece of paper and said ‘include me’. It is about the 18 members of staff that we’ve had so far, and the hundreds of volunteers and the community of support we have around us. My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for sharing the journey over the past 20 years as we’ve tried to figure out how to do life together.”

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We’re very proud of the achievements of all the young people who come to Urban Hope and of the dedication of volunteers who help us to run sessions each week, offer mentoring support to young people and lend a hand at events. But it’s especially gratifying when those efforts get wider recognition, which is what happened this week when Gemma Bell and Keeley Tims were given awards at the Mayor’s Civic Awards Ceremony, an event celebrating the unsung heroes of the borough. Here’s why they were singled out:

Gemma Bell – It’s no exaggeration to say that Urban Hope has been very reliant on Gemma’s support over the past 15 years. During that time, she has volunteered at countless evening drop-ins, mentored numerous young people, helped to organise dozens of events and raised £17,000 to support our work.

Keeley Timms – At only 16, Keeley has already shown a real commitment to her local community. She was nominated her for the Ben Kinsella award by her headteacher, who was struck by her consistently positive influence on younger students and her support of the more vulnerable among them. On top of regular volunteering at Urban Hope, Keeley was keen to volunteer at a local primary school – and when they initially turned her down due to lack of experience, she bombarded them with emails until they said yes. We’re looking forward to seeing where that fierce determination takes her in the months and years to come.

A big, fat Urban Hope thank you to both these wonderful women for all that they do.

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We will be taking a break between 22nd December and 4th January.

We hope you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, and we look forward to seeing you in 2015.

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Giving back

28 October 2014

One of the things we enjoy most at Urban Hope is watching young people we’ve worked with throughout childhood make really positive contributions to the community as adults. Maddie (pictured above, left) is a terrific example, we first met her when she came here with her friend Louisa (above right) over a decade ago, at the age of 10.

Today, Maddie is a Philosophy student at Kings and runs workshops at the Barbican teaching young people how to do film programming and events management. And just recently she’s found a way to simultaneously reduce food waste and help Urban Hope by encouraging her ex-employer Waitrose to donate unused food to us each week.

Here’s Maddie’s story:

“Louisa and I went along to girls’ club after we got a flyer at school in Year 6. It was just over the road from where we lived. Otherwise I wasn’t doing anything; we just used to play out on the street with people we knew. At Urban Hope we got to meet new people and because it was girls club we didn’t have to worry about yukky boys! We did baking, outdoor stuff, arts and crafts – and sometimes we just used to put music on and dance around.

I’ve been through quite a lot and Urban Hope was the one place I could turn to for help or advice. Or sometimes just a space that I can go, my house can be quite hectic but there I can be separate from all the chaos, no-one minds listening me to moan. I still pop in all the time.

. . . read more


You might have noticed that we haven't posted much in the way of news on here lately. It’s been a crazy few months. Summer was a whirlwind of tennis lessons, tie-dying, trips away and whole load of cooking and eating. Sadly we had to say goodbye to two fantastic student youth workers, Spencer and Byron, who completed their placements with us at the end of the summer and are graduating today.

The Autumn term is now in full swing; Monday night drop-ins (for years 9 to 11) are proving especially popular with dozens of young people turning up each week. We've recently finished our series of sessions on knife crime, funded by Let's Get Talking, with a workshop looking at grief and bereavement. As part of the course, we took a group of young people to visit the Ben Kinsella Exhibition, an interactive experience looking at the consequences of knife crime. Given the worrying surge in youth violence in our community over the past year, we’ve really appreciated the opportunity to help the young people who come to Urban Hope explore these issues.

And now, we need your help please. What Urban Hope does couldn’t be done without volunteers – and we need more of you. Volunteering with us doesn’t necessarily have to involve forming meaningful long-term relationships with young people – though we love it when you do that too. But we also need people to collect food donations once a week, to help out in the kitchen or lend a hand at one-off events. You can find out more about what it means to be an Urban Hope volunteer here and if you think you might be able to spare some time to get involved please drop us a line at

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Growing up with Urban Hope

15 October 2014

Joel writes…

That’s me aged about five or six on the green at the Almorah Road Community Centre where Ben first started bringing together children and young people to play football and hang out together. So I've been coming to Urban Hope since before it was called Urban Hope, and now I'm doing a placement here as a student youth worker.

As a child, it gave me an opportunity to get out of the house, meet other young kids from the area, develop my love of football, and spend time with people I’d never have known otherwise. It was totally different – and a lot more fun than what was on offer at home. My standout memory is a residential I went on when I was 16. I crawled through cold, wet mud, did zip lining, tight rope walking and much more. It was a completely new experience and got me enjoying the outdoors.

Being part of Urban Hope enabled me to find a voice that was often disregarded and oppressed, especially at home. It gave me a family in a place that felt like a home away from home – somewhere I could just be.

. . . read more


Joy writes ...

This term Urban Hope Friday evenings have been full of challenges, as our girl’s club works towards earning a weekend in the countryside. Over the last few weeks they have tried brand new foods, eaten bugs and made teddies all in the name of the ‘residential’.

Last weeks challenge was to turn Urban Hope into a restaurant. The girls did themselves proud, putting together a three course Mexican themed meal, decorated the halls, served the food and did (most) of the cleaning up! Their families and friends came and supported them (taking photographic evidence of the girls washing up!) and everyone ate together.

All term the group have been rising to every challenge put in front of them, sometimes with fear, sometimes with resignation but always with determination to succeed, and each success has been celebrated, not only by each other but by their communities. And each successfully completed challenge is confirmation of the fact that with help, they can do things that they never thought they could.

Which is one successfully completed challenge for me!

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Being positioned around the corner from Essex Road’s busiest chicken shop presents a challenge to us here at Urban Hope.

Not only do we have our wastepaper bins overflowing with fried chicken boxes which housed the post school snack of ‘wings and chips’ but our computer keyboards and furniture is often covered in a film of grease from the multitasking hands of the children and young people who come along to the daily activities here at Urban Hope. These are obviously minor inconveniences and don’t match the concerns we have about young people’s diets which read like the menu of ‘Mississippi Fried Chicken’. Research tells us that the appeal of the 305 fast food outlets in Islington is the price, taste and convenience along with the social dynamic of sharing food with friends.

Whilst Islington council said in 2012 that they will look to “ban the setting up of new fast-food outlets within 200 metres of a primary or secondary school’, there are no similar plans related to youth projects. Here at Urban Hope we have a long tradition of teaching young people to cook nutritious and tasty meals within a tight budget. Some of them have gone on to find careers in the restaurant industry but most are now simply able to tell us about meals they have cooked at home for parents and siblings using skills learned at our cooking sessions. Not only do we cook together but there is an emphasis on sitting down and sharing meals together. It’s often in the context of a shared meal that we are able to provide emotional and other practical support to children and young people. We have found that with the support of local donors we are able to provide young people with meals that rival the appeal of fast food whilst providing a family mealtime feel.

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Space+place at Urban Hope

30 January 2014

At Urban Hope we're committed to exploring the most relevant ways to connect with and support young people.

On Thursday February 20th we're hosting a seminar led by Bob Mayo, Sam Adofo and Ben Bell, asking how in an increasingly virtual world we connect with young people relevantly.

Click here for more information

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As part of this years Children in Need appeal BBC 1Xtra chose Urban Hope as one of the projects they wanted to profile. On Wednesday Joy and a group of young people met 1xtra breakfast presenters Yasmin and Twin B to tell them about the work Children in Need fund at Urban Hope with young women and the interview was played on air this morning.

The money that Children in Need and other funders provide is essential to our work and we're are appreciative of every penny

Thanks for your support

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Community Day

12 August 2013

Everyone welcome, lots of fun, brilliant community event, it's Free!

Put it in your diary people.

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Summer time

11 August 2013

Joy writes...

People often assume that the holidays are an amazing time for all young people, that the absence of school and seemingly endless free time can only be a good thing. However for some young people summer time is hard. They don’t get to go away, or spend extra time with their families. For some it can be a lonely and boring time.

Which is why at Urban Hope the summer means we head into the local parks and hang out with young people, offering them lots of fun things to do from trips to tennis coaching, culminating with a community fun day at a local community centre.

We’re there to offer friendship and a sense of belonging. Some young people will see us almost every day of the summer.

. . . read more


Stigma, Social isolation and Shame... these are issues faced by many Urban Hopefuls because they have a parent in prison. Please join us insigning the e-petition to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining contact via regular prison visits and phone calls.

Not my Crime, Still my Sentence

Nearly 1 million children in Europe have a parent in prison.

25% of these kids are at high risk for mental health illness, a statistic recently discovered during the COPING Project.

The sentence of their parent becomes a sentence they also serve as a result of their vulnerability to stigma, social isolation and shame.

Research has proven that maintaining regular quality contact with the imprisoned parent improves the self-esteem and well-being of this group of children – but throughout Europe there are few support systems in place to promote this contact for the benefit of the child.

. . . read more



4 June 2013

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Ben writes...

I’m off to St Paul’s Cathedral this evening to talk about the work of Urban Hope. As part of the launch service for ‘Capital Vision 2020’ (a strategy for churches in the Diocese of London) I will be interviewed on the theme of ‘compassion for our communities’. I’ve often found it relatively easy to engage with themes such as compassion when in awe inspiring environments such as St Paul’s Cathedral however when in the grit of daily youth work I need to engage with a less lofty concept and a more practical sense of what compassion is all about. Which leads me to the quote above.

It’s this quote by Nouwen that in many ways sums up the threads of compassion we seek to weave into the fabric of Urban Hope. A beautiful description such as this is often enough to serve as grounded and enfleshed inspiration and hope when confronted with some of the crap we encounter in our community.

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30 April 2013

Chrissy writes...

Over the past few weeks we have been introducing some of our 13 and 14 year old girls to the process and practice of mentoring on a short peer-mentoring course. Our aim is to be able to offer younger girls some peer mentoring support as they transition from Junior to secondary school.

So far the mentoring course has included role-playing examples of good and bad mentoring, thinking hard about safeguarding, practising global listening and thinking about being purposeful.

Mentoring features heavily in Urban Hope’s work, it’s a chance to get to know young people more, to develop safe and trusting spaces and relationships and to give young people the opportunity to explore things with an adult perspective. The idea comes from the Greek myth “The Odyssey” where an old man called Mentor or rather the goddess Athene disguised as Mentor accompanies the son of Odysseus on a coming of age journey and along the way encourages, advises, challenges and supports him in order to help him grow in self-confidence and esteem. In the same way we aim to walk alongside and occasionally direct orwarn – keeping a weather eye out for danger –, but mostly we listen and are there as a support and encouragement in the midst of life in all its topsy turvyness. And because it’s not forced, it can mean that they don’t ask for help and we don’t get the chance to discuss things with them but have instead to watch at the edge of the road as they navigate the bumps and potholes. But we don’t leave, we don’t walk off – instead we stay there by them just off at the edges so that they know they can always have that support if they wish.

We are encouraged to see that these young women in year 9 are thoughtful, kind and considerate and are looking forward to supporting some of our junior club girls transition into year 7. Our Hope is that in September, we will be seeing some happy and confident year 7 girls settle in well and make good friends in their new schools knowing they have many safe and positive older relationships both inside and outside of school supporting and rooting for them.

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Ben writes...

‘Mash from scratch’ is the name of the project we’re working on with some of the Urban Hopeful’s. The idea is to build a planter out of an old wooden palate, grow some potatoes then cook and eat them. This is the first time that we’ve dipped our urban toes into the horticultural waters so we’ll let you know how we get on.

During a recent team meeting, we were talking about some of the conceptual frameworks that underpin our work here at Urban Hope and Byron offered a really helpful metaphor that helped us explore the work we do. He suggested that Urban Hope is like a flowerpot – holding nutrients, providing a warm sheltered environment and providing good conditions for healthy growth. I think Byron’s on to something here and our ‘mash from scratch’ project has reminded us that the positioning of pots it’s key – different plants need to be place in different locations and receive varying amounts of water, sun and nutrients. This reflects the attention we give to the individual needs of the young people who are part of our community.

For further reflection we also know that sometimes plants need to be transferred to larger or alternative pot in order to continue to grow and sometime pots need to be broken in order to release the plant. We have learned this along the way too, and it’s not always easy.

We’re looking forward to publishing our Annual Review of 2012 in the next couple of weeks and hope you will join us in celebrating the stories of growth told by young people who are growing up here at Urban Hope.

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Martin writes...
What are we cooking tonight? Is the question that starts off Thursday night drop in. Although cooking on a Thursday night has been happening for a while now at Urban Hope we are currently trying something new.

Instead of carrying on with what we normally do and letting people eat and rush back to what they were doing before. Every other week now we call everyone together to sit down and eat together around one large table.

As we gathered everyone to eat some people were sitting and eagerly waiting for their food to be served while others were standing looking confused and asking what we were doing it for. As the food was served up and more people were sitting, eating and chatting together, those who first looked confused and nervous relaxed and soon everyone was focussed on eating with the group. Without any prompting someone says “So how was your day?” and the conversations flow from there.

There is something about sitting and eating together that can be more special than just standing, eating and moving on. What we are trying to do is to foster time to be together in an intentional way rather than just sharing the same space but not necessarily connecting with each other. We are creating an opportunity to share together in a way that can be easier to do while eating together. It can make it easier for people to let their guards down a bit and be willing to share and interact with others compared with if they were just playing Fifa 13.

Throughout Urban Hope there is a sense of family, which is added to by the action of sitting and eating around a table together. For some young people it might not be something that is done with their family and so we are creating a place where they can be safe to share with others in the context of a family meal.

. . . read more


How can you use a pool table to talk about sexual health, coffee cup rings to explore journey, or use conversation to help young people gain a new perspective?

These were some of the questions we explored last week as part of a training day we ran for youth workers. We often find that session plans don’t work out or we get stuck when it comes to helping a young person move on.In order to learn how to think on our feet, and work creatively with young people we invited our friend Jonny Baker to lead a day for the Urban Hope team and 34 other youth workers from as far as Manchester and Hastings.

The day was wonderfully interactive with exercises in newspaper editing and improvisational drama (We never knew that Byron was hiding his acting talents from us).

The youth work world is full of essential inside the box training such as safeguarding and best practice. We are seeking to add value by offering training and ‘think space’ events on themes that aren’t usually covered

… a little bit of innovative, outside the box thinking to equip, excite and invigorate youth work … that’s what we’re trying to do.

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Together we're better

26 February 2013

Martin Writes... The Izzi cup was a popular conversation topic for the boys I met on my arrival at Urban Hope.

It is a tournament for Islington Youth Clubs, which takes place in our local park. Now it’s my turn to gather the boys for the forthcoming cup.

Preparation for the tournament enables us to work within an activity that the boys are passionate about and has shaped our terms theme of team work. There have been opportunities to explore the dynamics of being team players and building collaborative relationships. Developmental work such as this is part of our work towards the greater aim of equipping these boys for adulthood.

Activities such as decorating t-shirts with name and number and communication exercises have helped the boys to understand that success in football is about more than being able to shoot on target.

The boys did really well and won third place medals in the Izzi cup last week – a great achievement. They tell the story of how they weren’t doing so well at the beginning of the tournament but once they started working as a team they got better.

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Seeing Double at Urban Hope

19 February 2013

Joy writes...

Last term was very exciting for the Junior Club team as the clubs membership doubled between September and December. 60 young people are now Junior Club members and over 40 come along each week.

We have a lot of fun with the group playing games, doing arts and craft activities and drinking hot chocolate (with whipped cream and marshmallows if they're really good!)

Junior Club, which is for 8-11 year olds, is so important to us because for many young people it is the very beginning of a relationship with Urban Hope that will last through to adulthood.

. . . read more


Music at Urban Hope

29 January 2013

Byron writes…

The musically gifted young people took the stage at Urban Hope’s music showcase in December. They performed in front of their pears, family members and the wider Urban Hope community. Each singer sang their song and lyricists shared their stories, riding a hard-hitting 808 beat, or were accompanied by young guitarists that tantalised our ears, the audience cheered on each strum, beat, note, and performance.

It was a success but within the time span of one hour and thirty minutes all of their hard work was over. Nobody would truly know the amount of time and effort that these young people had put into this show.

Throughout the weeks leading up to the show it seemed as if there were new obstacles trying to dishearten and prevent our young people from being apart of it. There were disputes about song choices, and young people dropping out of the show all together. There were several different points of the rehearsal process where it appeared as if there wasn’t going to be a show. But, we were privileged enough to have a group of dedicated young people who gave up their free time after school and were at every rehearsal, perfecting their craft and being advised and encouraged by our music tutors.

. . . read more


Happy New Year 2013

9 January 2013

Martin writes...

We find ourselves with another year gone and thinking about what happened last year and what is coming this year. Now that Christmas is over, the traces of celebrating the coming of the New Year are gone now we have to get used to normal life again.

This time of year is always filled with talk of new years resolutions, good and bad, those we might keep and those that we don’t. Everywhere we look someone seems to be talking about them, in the newspapers, online and now on the Urban Hope blog post.

Why do we go through the motions of talking about new years resolutions? It seems that not many of us do them or are successful at maintaining them for long. On Facebook at the moment there is a trend going around of doing a new years pay it forward. You put on your status that for the first five people to comment on it you will send them something special. There is probably divided opinion on this but there are plenty of people who think it is a great idea and are doing it. This is a good way to do something different and a little bit special for those we know. But how often do we do something special for those we might not know so well? Are there ways that we can do something different this year that requires more from us than a sort term commitment?

. . . read more


Happy Christmas

18 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Urban Hope sessions will be closed from 17th December and starting again from the 5th January.

The office is now closed till 2nd January.

From everyone in the Urban Hope team we hope you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, we look forward to whats in store for Urban Hope in 2013!!

. . . read more


Things to do

21 October 2012

For young people in Islington ....

click here for a downloadable document with information about:

  • adventure playgrounds
  • after school clubs
  • breakfast clubs
  • fun and youth activities
  • holiday schemes
  • homework help
  • services for disabled children and young people
  • help with costs

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We love this video by Plan UK : International Day of the Girl

They are a brilliant charity supporting children born into a world of poverty, giving them the possibility of a better future through;

  • Clean water and a healthy start.
  • Securing education for both boys and girls.
  • Help countries survive disasters and prepare for them.
  • Inspire them to take a lead in decisions that affect their lives. 
  • Help their families to earn a living and plan for their children's future.

Take a look at their website to find out more...

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Growing Pains

1 October 2012

Chrissy writes...

Sometimes we seek growth - in all sorts of ways, for example, by enrolling in further education. Other times we go through growth never quite understanding what is going on: as a small child my parents made me eat vegetables to ‘make me grow strong’ and I remember this being particularly painful!

But why? Why is it that growth is sometimes uncomfortable or painful? I wonder if it’s because without it we wouldn’t be able to rejoice as much in the result. 

Over the past 10 years it has filled me with excitement to consider that each day, each conversation or new insight means our lives are now different because we have lived a moment that we hadn’t before. Sometimes these moments do cause discomfort as what we had been before learns to adjust, whether we want to or not, and then we find that we have grown in many different directions. Speaking horticulturally, we are able to put down roots, pushing through the ground past rocks , around obstacles searching for nutrients and stability: and we can reach ever higher, stretching ourselves, searching for light, warmth and a chance to bloom. We can expand outwards, negotiating space, increasing our capacity and becoming ever more fruitful.

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'on a residential'

16 September 2012

Ben writes ....

I’ve just slept for 13 hours!

This almost never happens apart from when I’ve been 'on a residential' weekend with young people…. It’s exhausting! Partly because of my introvert tendencies and partly because anyone would be shattered after aweekend of late nights, early mornings and non-stop activity.

There’s an intensity to weekends away which comes not just from the activity but from the investment we are all required to put into relationships in order for all to go well.

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Community Day

3 September 2012

Chrissy writes....

We had such a great day on Saturday when we held a fun day for our community at the Almorah Road Community Centre. As well as a BBQ and bouncy castle it was packed with stalls such as a coconut shy made out of cut-up and painted poster tubes, a nurf gun firing range with plastic skittles and beakers as targets, a beautifully painted splat-the-rat and many creative tables. We relished the chance to have fun with and get to know better young people’s parents. What we enjoyed the most turned out not to be the crazy stalls or bouncy castle but seeing so many members of our community coming together to make the day work. The day felt like a real celebration and a beautifully collaborative event. Thank you to all those who came and helped out and also everyone who turned up and joined in.           


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Inspiring a generation

7 August 2012

“When’s Tom Daley on?
          Did you hear about thebadminton?
                     I was watching theswimming all day.
Did you see the Judo – amazing right?
             We’ve just got a medal in…
                            That footballcrowd was the largest ever…”

This week has been dominated by sport and talk of the Olympics: engaging in excited chatter about the opening ceremony, Rowan  Atkinson and the “James Bond bit with the Queen”; going over the various nuances of different sporting disciplines that we’d previously never given a second thought to, with young people who admit they don’t generally care about sportbut are a little taken-aback that they’re watching it now; being in awe alongside our year 8 girls at the skill and daring of Tom Daley and the rest ofthe teams in the Olympic diving; organising trips to the men’s table tennis medal matches and the beach volleyball thanks to a last minute surprise gift oftickets; having great fun down at Rosemary gardens messing about with basketballs, footballs and creative interpretations of tennis. There was a buzz about the tennis courts last night and the young people had what felt like extra energy to devote to playing sport. Spending time with young people this week I’ve noticed a unified interest and appreciation from our young people for the skill of athletes and most of them seem to have caught a pride that all these athletes and spectators from all these different nations are here in London, their city, their home. There has been much talk of the legacy of these games for London being in the infrastructure and finances – but I think the real legacy for our young people will be in the pride and inspiration that they are experiencing – an interest and discovery of the joys of sport, encouragement from hearing the courageous stories of the athletes, a fresh sense of belonging to their city and their nation and being able to say to their children and grandchildren that they were here. 

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Chrissy writes... 

I took 3 very excited young women to the Men’s Table Tennismedal matches on Thursday. None of us knew very much about table tennis but wewere all thrilled that we’d been given the opportunity to attend the Olympics.The entire trip was full of new experiences for the girls, using paper tickets,walking through Liverpool Street – “Oh wow, this was where they did the phoneadvert!”, going through airport-style security and watching the bestdemonstration of table tennis in the world. They were mostly entertained bysome other spectators who were equally baffled by the hype around table tennisbut they wouldn’t have missed it for the world. They recognised the effort andthe achievement of the players and got right behind the German supporters ofthe first European to gain a medal in table tennis for 12 years. There werealso a few disappointments – at the crippling cost of anything within the arena(a realisation that was truly painful to see arrive on their faces) and at thesedate nature of the crowd. They strove womanfully for a good hour to get areally good Mexican wave going and they weren’t to be defeated lightly but inthe end, the time ran out. I was proud to be sitting next to these 3 sparkyyoung women, who chatted confidently to their neighbours about where they livedand Urban Hope, who were mature enough to garner some interest in the game infront of them, were as enthusiastic as some of the Chinese devotees even thoughit was the first proper game of table tennis they’d ever watched and who wereclearly relishing the opportunity to be there. What a privilege.

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Urban Hope and Street Space have teamed up to create a new post working to promote people's personal, social and spiritual development in line with the core youth work principles of empowerment, education, participation and equality of opportunity.
We are so excited about this opportunity and we can't wait to meet people interested in this new role.
Interested? know anyone who might be?  read the job description and please contact Ben Bell.

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Joy blogs about her experience of working with a group of girls to create a safe space for sharing, reflection and support: a process which becomes sacred... 

Each week we seek to create a sacredspace for 10 minutes at the end of girls club. We sit in a circle around asingle candle and invite each person to share something that matters to them,without judgement.

We introduce this time by remindingthe girls that what’s said in the space, stays in the space and that every onewill be heard; Phones are put away, silence falls and a question is asked: 

What is the most beautifulthing you’ve seen this week?

What do you do when you’reangry or sad?

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Thrift Sale Thank you

21 May 2012

Drum roll please....... 

We're delighted to tell you all that we have raised over £6,000 which will be spent on the young people in our community, giving them opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have, we can now pack in loads of activities, giving them a fun filled summer. It was a really great day, so many people came through the doors, there was a great buzz and sense of a community coming together. 

Thank you to all who came and supported us and donated loads of great stuff and especially thank you to the 30+ people who volunteered their time to make this happen... 

We feel privileged to belong to a community like this.

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Islington's Family Information Service has published details of activities taking place over the school holidays .... link here

Here at Urban Hope, we will continue to run all our regular activities + we will be doing lots of extra stuff for children and young people who find themselves with nothing to do

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Weekend Away

27 March 2012

At Urban Hope we try to give young people the opportunity to experience new things. One of the ways we do this is by organising activity weekends in the country. Last weekend we took 8 young women and one amazing young leader to Hindleap Warren in East Grinsted, to celebrate and end the Beautiful course

Over the last weekend we saw young women overcome challenges, face fears, persevere until they achieved and have loads of fun. Again and again I am amazed at the growth of confidence and self-belief that can occur in such a short amount of time. As well as the change of perspective spending time in another setting can offer. At the end of every residential we do, I need to sleep for hours before I can function at a reasonable level again but it has never been not totally worth it- and every young person we take away says the same.

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To Celebrate Valentines day, some of our Urban Hopefuls volunteered to cook a delicious meal at our sister project - the Manna. The Manna is a project which seeks to serve and support homeless and marginalised people. 

They served over 90 people with a three course meal which they had spent the afternoon cooking using skills they had learned at our 'food-skills workshops' - it went down well!

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For over 7 years now Urban Hopefuls have been creating short films about them, and their reactions to the world around them. Some which have been part of the 'London Children's Film Festival'. We have now created an UrbanHopefuls channel on YouTube, which is a great platform to celebrate the young peoples voice's and talent's. it will be a channel for their past cinematic achievements and hopefully many more to come in the future.

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Beautiful Course

17 January 2012

A couple of weeks ago we held the first session of the Beautfiul@urbanhope course this year. We have 10 stunning young women and the amazing Hannah Jean as our resident image consultant.

Hannah, who founded ‘Find myStyle’ image consultancy, also leads ‘Diva-licious’ an image empowerment project.  ‘Diva-licious’ goes to schools and pupil referral units to work with girls around the issues of self-esteem and self-image, using her skills in fashion and styling.

We’re so excited to be working with Hannah, because it is always great to work with people who share your vision.

The aim for Beautiful@urbanhope is to enable young women to recognise that they are beautiful, valuable and have a contribution to make in the world.

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Happy New Year

5 January 2012

Happy New Year

We're back from our Christmas break and are loving reconnecting with all the Urban Hopefuls. 

I wanted to share an email that we were sent by a 17 year old over the Christmas period which will stay with me throughout 2012 and will serve as a reminder of what we're about.

Dear UH,
Thank you for your presence.
Thank you for your presence, in absence of food,
Thank you for your presence, in absence of shelter.
Thank you for your support, in absence of a hand to hold,
Thank you for your brains, when I felt brain dead.
Thank you for being my megaphone, in absence of a voice,
Thank you for being my specs, when life seemed a little blurry.
Thank you for being my family, In absence of a mother, father.
Thank you. Its been a great year.

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It's Christmas!!

16 December 2011

Happy Christmas Everybody.

We are closing sessions for Christmas from 16th December.

Don't worry though, because we are going to back from the 3rd January.

It will be a chance for everyone to have a good Christmassy rest. We hope you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, we are looking forward to coming back in 2012.

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Head Girl meets a Prince

7 December 2011

We are so proud of Louisa Robbin, who is not only the first head girl of 'City of London Academy Islington' but also is an outstanding individual, who inspires us at Urban Hope with her determination and her gentleness.

Here she is photographed with Prince Edward at the official opening of the Academy.

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The word on the street

If churches wish to help young people escape the gang culture, they need commitment and co-ordinated approach, says Julia McGuinness

TELEVISION images of rioters on the streets of English cities this summer were quickly succeeded by David Cameron’s declaration of a “social fightback” in the form of an “all-out war on gangs and gang culture”.

The emerging picture of the unrest challenged initial assumptions that the rioters were essentially black teenagers in organised gangs. Never the less, August’s disturbing events again raised the issue of urban deprivation, and put gang culture, in particular, firmly back on the agenda 2008,Churches Together in England (CTE) published the report Who is my Neighbour? A Church response to social disorder linked to gangs, drugs, guns and knives. One thousand copies were released, and its findings were presented at key cities around the country.

The report highlighted the concern felt by churches about issues of violence and social disorder, and their desire to form partnerships with others to help to address them, but, also, awareness of their own lack of training and expertise.

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Friends, Family & Fireworks

9 November 2011

On Monday we held our Annual Urban Hope Bonfire Night at the Almorah Road Community Centre, and it was a great evening.

Around 80 people of all ages from the local community came together to eat hot dogs and cake around the fire, watch a small fireworks display and light sparklers.

Evenings like this are so special to the life of Urban Hope because it’s at times like this when our best cross-cultural, inter-generational work is done.

Whole families from across the community meet together and share their stories and experiences, serve each other and celebrate being together. They can come and meet in a way which is far more natural and much less clunky or forced, then the way it can be in fabricated sessions of young people mixing with older.

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Last Thursday Urban Hope had the opportunity to celebrate the young people who have been coming to our music session for the last 18 months to work on their vocal techniques, write songs, create beats and record music.

The confidence and talent shown by the young people who participated blew us away!  Around 150 people came out to St Stephen’s Church (which looked stunning!) to watch young people perform tracks that they love, supported by performances from Shelley Nelson, and our vocal tutors.

But the young people performing weren’t the only stars of the show, with young people from all our sessions working alongside our amazing adult volunteers helping to host, compare and steward the evening, as well as baking cakes, decorating the Church and clearing everything away afterwards.

Throughout whole evening there was a real sense of family coming together to celebrate Urban Hope and the young people who make it what it is, and it was that, much more than the music, which made the evening such a huge success.

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Congratulations Abbie!

25 October 2011

We are so proud of Abbie who is one of the young mums who comes to 'the Crib'. Abbie has been accepted and has started work as an apprentice chef at Jamie Olivers Fifteen Foundation

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25 October 2011

Over the past year we have created and run a course called 'beautiful'.

The course is designed to work with a group of between 6- 10 young women at a time, looking at being beautiful inside and out.

We do workshops around positive relationships, confidence and self esteem, healthy eating, looking at the effect of the media.

We also get an amazing make up artist to come and teach the girls how to use make up from taking care of their skin to putting on false eyelashes!

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