Fun for All - Saturday 31 May

We have all the ingredients for our Fun for All day on Saturday 31 May in the church gardens and on the forecourt. The ribbon will be cut by the Mayor of Islington, with our local ward councillor, Gary Poole, at 1.15pm. From then until 5.30pm, there'll be a whole programme of fun, including the fabulous London Swing Dance Society teaching us some moves, a forecourt cafe providing fresh fruit, tea and homemade cake, our popular second hand book and DVD stall.

For younger members of the community, there'll be a puppet-making workshop from our wonderful neighbours, Little Angel Puppet Theatre, face painting, craft activities and not one, but TWO bouncy castles!

Fresh from their victory, Arsenal football club are supplying a penalty shootout competition and our own Islington Fire Brigade will be joining us too.

Everything is free. We look forward to welcoming you. See the full Soul in the City programme.

Beating the bounds of old Islington

On Bank Holiday Monday (26 May) Soul in the City sets off at a strolling pace. We'll be walking around Islington's boundary - what was once the parish boundary of St Mary Islington. Their are two ancient boundary stones to find - so we'll beat the bounds in short and fun ceremonies that have their origins in Anglo-Saxon times.

The whole walk is 11.7 miles but you are welcome to join or leave at any stage. We will aim to stick as closely as possible to the times given below. (Distances given are cumulative.)

9.30am St Mary Islington Morning Prayer
10.15am Depart St Mary’s
10.30am Depart Narrow Boat pub at the end of St Peter’s Street, towards Kings Cross station on corner of York Way (3.5 miles)
12 noon Depart Kings Cross station to the cafe at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park (6.4 miles)
1.00pm. Lunch stop! Bring a packed lunch or buy at the cafe
2.00pm Depart Waterlow Park towards Finsbury Park Station Place (8.7 miles)
3.00pm Depart Finsbury Park towards The Baring pub on Baring Road (11.7 miles)
4.00pm Arrive at The Baring and enjoy well deserved drink

All are welcome to join at any stage - even just for a pint at the end. If you are walking, please wear good footwear and a bottle of water. Directions and information will be provided but we aim to walk together as a group.

It would be helpful to let Ian Mylam know you are coming please, by emailing, but do feel free to turn up on the day.

Soul in the City: free half term activities

Wondering how to occupy your children during half term? During Soul in the City, we're running youth and children's workshops on Wednesday 28 May to Friday 30 May for local residents. Best of all, they're completely free!

The workshops are as follows:
Kid's Club - Wed 28 May and Thur 29 May (10am-12.30pm) for ages 7-10
Street Dance - Wed 28 May (12-4pm) for ages 11-18
Craft - Fri 30 May (11am-3pm) for all ages - no need to book
Play in a Day - Fri 30 May (10am-5pm) for ages 5-8, 9-12, 13-14.

Places are free, but registration is essential. The easiest way to register is to sign up below. Alternatively you can call 020 7226 3400 or email

Workshops are being run in partnership with St Mary Islington Community Partnership and the Almeida Theatre, with support from Islington Council.

Upper Street's Got Talent 2014

Do you write your own songs or play in a band? Have a secret gift for playing the ukulele or talent for breakdancing? Upper Street's Got Talent is back on the steps of St Mary's on Friday 30 May.
This year's prizes are even more generous thanks to our brilliant sponsors and we've even added two new categories: for the most original act and our young person award.

So whether you're eight or eighty, sing, dance or juggle, please do take part. Register online here, email or call Rebecca Mills on 07816 073016. Auditions will be on the Wednesday and Thursday before the show.

Upper Street's Got Talent is part of Soul in the City, our free annual neighbourhood festival.

Soul in the City 2012 video

A huge thank you to all the people of Islington, to our church members who gave their time and energy so freely, to our wonderfully generous sponsors and to God for giving us a hope and a belief that the city is where a new kind of kingdom can be built.

Soul in the City winners

Soul in the City was a celebration of what's good in Islington.

On Friday 9 June, we were delighted to announce winners of three competitions, which show us the best of Islington.

Shanon Camara was a late entry to the Upper Street's Got Talent show when friends suggested she should audition. Judges praised her vocal ability and her classy performance.

Shanon Camara won Upper Street's Got Talent

Noah Taylor won the younger age category in the photography competition, which invited entrants to submit a picture that depicted "the best thing in my neighbourhood".
Noah Taylor's entry "Freefall" in the Year 6 and under category for the photography competition

Joshua Ballance found a quiet sidestreet for his winning entry in the older category.
Joshua Ballance's entry "Islington Twilight" in the Year 7 to 12 category for the photography competition


Soul in the City 2012 slide show

Thank you everyone who made this year's Soul in the City so memorable. A note from a visitor yesterday read, "I just once again wanted to say thank you for the hospitality received today. To you it may have been just coffee and cake but to me it was so much more."

Rain doesn't stop Soul in the City

The weather's been a bit unkind to us at this year's Soul in the City Festival. But the good news is that we have planned for the drizzle and the downpours.

All events are going ahead, with some re-located into the church itself.

The latest weather forecast shows things improving for our Family Fun Day on Saturday. Even if it pours, we can move most of the stalls and activities into the warm and dry.

See the full Soul in the City Programme.

Rory Malone

We're thrilled that Rory Malone, singer/songwriter from New Zealand, is playing at Soul in the City on 7 June, from 7.15pm.

Rory says his first taste of music was performing as the lead singer and song writer of A Kiss Goodbye. Over a 5 year period Rory had many memorable highlights. When he turned 16, A Kiss Goodbye opened for Panic at the Disco at the Vector Arena in Auckland.

His song writing is influenced by artists including Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, John Mayer, The Beatles, and Nevershoutnever. The new acoustic set promises to appeal to a wide age range.  His plan is to perform 100 gigs from John O’ Groats to Lands End.

All events at Soul in the City are completely free of charge.

Find out more at the full Soul in the City 2012 programme

Jubilee Street Party

We're launching Soul in the City on the Jubilee Bank Holiday and as the nation celebrates the sixty years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, we're delighted to throw a street party of our own, right in the heart of Islington.

Come along from 4.00pm to 7.00pm to enjoy music from the Crouch End All Stars jazz band, tea, cakes and refreshments. We've heaps of bunting and flags to make Upper Street look even more festive and everything is free.

Find out more at the full Soul in the City 2012 programme.

Bishop "breathless" at Soul in the City

The Right Reverend Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, has offered his support to the forthcoming Soul in the City celebrations.

Bishop Adrian said, "Reading through the programme for this year’s Soul in the City at St Mary’s left me breathless!  What a fabulous week of activities, filled with creativity and energy. ‘Soul’ is a good word to describe what this will create in the life of the local community, and I do wish you well as you offer this great gift to the Islington at a time of national celebration."

The Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, has also sent her support. She said, "This is absolutely incredible – This says so much about the Church being there for everyone  - not just in terms of being open but also in terms of the range of things you are offering. This excites me because it is community ministry at its best: Equally life-giving for those providing the events and those who will participate and enjoy."

Soul in the City begins on Tuesday 5 June and runs for the rest of the holiday week. All events are free.

St Mary's identified as a deprived parish

Divided Islington
Picture credit: Islington Giving
Our parish is poorer than many people assume.

According to new figures released by Church Urban Fund this week, our parish “is among the most deprived nationally”. Of the nation’s 12706 parishes, St Mary’s ranks 11362 and scores particularly badly on indices of child poverty (38%) and pensioner poverty (31%).

Our parish is centered on one of London’s destination streets for entertainment and shopping. It’s teeming with people. We love it!

Between Angel and Highbury Corner, Upper Street’s boutiques bid for the custom of those who can afford high style. Restaurants offer every conceivable cuisine. Pubs, theatres, cafes and artisan shops abound. But look carefully and there’s a wider range of people and a much greater diversity than you might think. The gradual gentrification that took place in the last thirty years is far from uniform. Those on the lowest incomes frequently live next to those on the highest. It is still possible to shop economically and between Liverpool Road and Essex Road, businesses cater for different tastes and budgets.

There are signs that things might be changing. Soaring property prices mean that it’s impossible to move into the area without very high incomes, subsidised rents, or a willingness to share overcrowded space with friends or parents. A two-bed flat above a shop may cost well over £600 a week to rent.

Many older residents have been living here for a long time. With rents showing no sign of falling, moves to limit benefits are beginning to squeeze those on low incomes out of areas like ours, so we may now be entering a period of worrying change. Two weeks ago, letters were sent to some of our parishioners warning of a big reduction in benefits. The Church Urban Fund is doing great work to equip churches to tackle poverty as a key element of their activity. Local charity Islington Giving is revealing more facts of life for Islington residents.

Our vision is firmly that we should serve all the people of our neighbourhood. We’re seeking as far as we can to ensure that our living for God is meaningful and positive for all in our parish. We believe that a neighbourhood is better when it’s mixed and that zoning affluence and poverty is catastrophic for the social health of a district.

In a few days, our Soul in the City Neighbourhood Festival will create opportunities for encounter and discovery between people. We want neighbours to meet neighbours, across boundaries that often keep people’s lives in close but separate channels. Soul in the City is much more than a series of entertaining events. It's not a distraction from the reality of life. It's a celebration of community. We’ve aimed for the highest quality in everything and ensured that everything is completely free.

In many ways, our parish is gloriously integrated. Despite having one of the highest crime rates in one of the highest crime boroughs in the country (drill down on the Met Police's crime maps for the startlingly high figures), there’s a vitality and peace to the place. But people from diverse backgrounds living in close proximity doesn’t necessarily mean that connections are made. Our resolve, through Soul in the City and through the way we live as a church, is to be intentional about creating community.

If you share our vision, do come and support the festival. But don’t just enjoy yourself. Enjoy other people.

Soul in the City 2012 Festival Programme

Wow, what a line up! This year's Soul in the City at St Mary's is the biggest yet. Unless stated, all events take place at St Mary's Church, Upper Street, Islington N1 2TX and are for all ages.

Every day, Tuesday 5 June to Saturday 9 June 2012

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Thursday 7 June 2012

Friday 8 June 2012

  • 10:30am Almeida Theatre Play in a Day Workshops for youth (8-10 years and 11-15 years)
  • 11:00am to 5:00pm Free Forecourt Cafe  
  • 1:00pm and 2:00pm 15 minute church
  • 4:00pm Almeida Theatre Play in a Day performance on the Almeida Theatre Stage, Almeida Street
  • 6:30pm Godfrey's Sausage Sizzle
  • 7:00 to 9:00pm Upper Street's Got Talent Show, with judges from Sky TV, The Almeida Theatre, Singer/songwriters Shelley Nelson and Rory Malone
  • 9:00pm Talent Show awards
  • 9:00pm Photography Competition awards

Saturday 9 June 2012

  • 11:00am to 5:00pm Free Forecourt Cafe  
  • 12:30pm Opening Ceremony for St Mary's Family Fun Day
  • 12:30pm Amberleigh Drum and Dance
  • 1:00pm Classical Concert
  • 1:00pm to 4pm - Stalls and fun including Arts and Crafts, Arsenal Penalty Shoot-out, Sumo Wrestling / Bouncy Castle / Slide, Dr Bike free bike servicing and small repairs, free massages from Neal's Yard, Table tennis, Face painting, Girl Guiding and Scouting Activities, Garden Jenga, Nail bar, Little Angel Theatre puppet making, Celebrity magician Josh Brett, Free DVD and Book stall.
  • 2:00pm to 2:30pm Swing Dancing Lessons
  • 3:00pm to 3:30pm Swing Dancing Lessons
  • 3:15pm 15 minute church

Sunday 10 June 2012

  • 11:00am Service of Celebration

Forecourt Cafe

Remember good-old fashioned home-baked cakes? 

Zesty lemon drizzle, super chocolate fudge brownies, hearty fruit cakes, light-as-air Victorian sponges, exotic date and walnut, beautiful banana loaf - we've got them all. Our forecourt cafe will be serving delicious free cakes and biscuits all week long between 11am and 5pm during Soul in the City, washed down with more tea than any vicar could slurp in a lifetime.

Take a break from strolling on Upper Street, put up your feet and have a chat with friends.

Pop-up Opera - L'elisir d'amore

At this year's Soul in the City neighbourhood festival, we're looking forward to a first-time appearance by the Pop-up Opera Company. The Company has chosen Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (The elixir of love), which will delight seasoned opera fans and opera newbies alike. The performance is free of charge - no ticket required, just come early for the best seats - and is on Wednesday 6 June, at 8pm. Plot introduction and cast here.

Find out more at the full Soul in the City 2012 programme

She Who Dares

We're thrilled that on the opening night of Soul in the City, Amy Harris will be performing her acclaimed one-woman show, She Who Dares.

The show is free and will suit adults and teenagers alike. Join us for the ribbon-cutting launch of the festival at around 6pm on Tuesday 5 June. Amy's performance begins at 7pm.

“I enjoyed the show very much. Never seen anything like it before. Very inspiring, well put together.”
Sarah – Bristol

“I knew the show would be good but was blown away by just how good. Loved her fresh perspectives on some well-known (and some not so well-known) stories.”
Julie Wilkinson – Bradford

“Awesome! As a bloke I loved it!”
Owen – Exeter

There is a gift and a strength in everyone just waiting to be let loose. Take a deep breath…I dare you!

Snap the best thing in your neighbourhood

As part of our exciting Soul in the City Neighbourhood Festival, we're running a Photography Competition for children and young people.
  • Can you take a photo to show us "What is the best thing in your neighbourhood?"
  • You can use any camera you like, even a camera phone.
  • There are two categories, up to Year 6 and Years 7 to12.
  • Send your picture to with your name and school year.
  • Deadline for submitting pictures is Friday 25 May 2012.
  • All photos will be exhibited at Soul in The City (5-12 June) at St Mary’s Church, Upper Street.
The two winners will receive a free print of their image on canvas and a free professional photo-shoot for their whole family, courtesy of Jessops, Islington. Jessops will also print off all entries for exhibiting. 

Judges decision final. At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Upper Street's Got Talent

Talent show
One of the highlights of this year's Soul in the City Neighbourhood Festival will be the talent show on Friday 8 June. Are you a talented non-professional performer? Could you sing, dance or entertain a crowd of hundreds of people in one of London's most well-known destination streets?

For more information and to register your entry, please call Gerry on 0793 203 5977. Full-size poster as a PDF document.