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Exploring ‘good life’ stories in Islington

Starting at the end of April I began a short-term project to capture stories from people with a learning disability in Islington who are contributing to their local community in a variety of ways.

To do this, we partnered up with Groundworks to employ Julian, a visually impaired photographer and all-round people person, who was looking for work experience in a new area. Working with Julian was a fantastic experience, and Julian commented that while at first he was nervous about doing the interviews, he enjoyed meeting everyone and it helped “get my brain in gear!”.

We started work by putting feelers out for anyone in Islington with a learning disability or autism who might be interested in being interviewed, and ended up meeting five incredible people, each with a unique skill set. We then recorded the interviews, and Julian took some lovely photos. Aside from getting these stories out there and promoting some fantastic local projects, running the placement with Julian provided a unique opportunity to develop best practice for working co-productively with people with lived experience of a disability, and will pave the way for exciting and inclusive work in future. Hopefully these videos will be a useful resource for anyone interested in examples of the amazing things going on in Islington…and how people feel about them in their own words.

Tina and Jonetta

First in our series we have a double bill of artists from Daylight Studio: a charity whom Community Catalysts has been supporting since the start of our Islington project. Daylight Studio runs one-to-one music sessions with adults with learning disabilities, facilitating them as they write, record and produce their own original music.

Tina and Jonetta both started their music journey with Jack when they were regularly spending time at the Daylight Resource Centre. In our chat with Tina, she chose to talk about her “attitude problem”, and how making music has helped her understand her emotions in the wake of her mother passing away. It’s amazing to hear from Tina in her own words about the improvements she has felt in her life as a result of being brave and finding creative expression.

In Jonetta’s interview, we hear about how she uses music to talk about her hopes for the future, the feeling of performing live…and she even treated us to a sneak peak of her upcoming single ‘Summertime’.

To find out more about Daylight Studio and how you can get involved, head to their website or to their listing on Small Good Stuff.


Our next interviewee is Alan, who works as a chef at St Luke’s Community Centre: an incredible local resource that hosts lots of amazing things including Key Changes whose project features on our taster programme. Alan was supported into the role by ISet (Islington Supported Employment Team) about 3 years ago and has been thriving and developing his skills ever since. In the video, Alan tells us all his favourite things about work, how he got the job, and what is most important to him.

To find out more about St Luke’s Community Centre or ISet head to their websites listed below:


For this interview we spoke to Sherrie: a mixed martial artist and instructor. Sherrie started her MMA journey through Mixed Martial Arts for Reform and Progression (MMARAP): a fantastic organisation that runs inclusive martial arts sessions every week in Islington to improve people’s strength, confidence and ability to defend themselves. Over a few years of hard work and dedication, Sherrie has gone from student to teacher. In our conversation Sherrie explains how she got started, where she is on her journey, and what MMARAP has meant to her.

To find out more about MMARAP and their Islington residence, Ring Cross Community Centre, follow the links below:


Our final interview of the series is with Carly: a brilliant yogi and volunteer at the Roberta Sumar Mahadevi Yoga Centre. Carly has been practicing yoga for several years now and recently started volunteering in the centre’s new café: a calm and tranquil community environment to relax with friends before and after yoga sessions. Carly explains how practicing yoga has positively affected her, what skills she has learnt as a volunteer, and what makes her happy.

Check out The Mahadevi Yoga Centre’s website to find out more.

As this video project reaches the end, I want to say thank you to everyone who has come together to make it possible to share these stories. In particular, I want to thank Julian for going out of his comfort zone and leading the interviews and taking some great pictures. I really hope that the main takeaway from this series is that once given the opportunity to take a risk and try something new, people can go on to achieve incredible things, for themselves and everyone around them.

By Rebecca Hindmarsh – Community Catalyst (Islington)