December 2009 to December 2014
We purchased 25 Wolsey Mews in December 2009 to be our new larger centre. The building was very run-down and needed extensive refurbishment, fundraising and consultations with users, volunteers, neighbours and friends of the Centre. We set up a development working group.
Our website was set up to be a contact point for supporters, donors and members of the public. However, our work had began 35 years ago in a squat in Euston...
The state of 25 Wolsey Mews, our future larger women’s centre when we completed purchase in December 2009. The building, a former woodworking workshop in the 1800s a doll’s factory, was very run down! We set up a development working group to organise the refurbishment.
Throughout the summer and autumn we widely publicised our plans, inviting comments and involvement from local communities through mailings, leafleting, local press coverage, and fundraising events at the premises (before renovation) which were attended by 300 local individuals and families.
Local users and small businesses told us that there is no comparable service in the community. A number of people offered their time and skills to fundraising and leaflets.
July 2011 :
Magic & Burlesque Cabaret. Talented artists and performers entertained with comedy, dance, juggling and magic. They raised £923 and had us roaring with laughter. By the end of the year, our appeal for funds and grant-making efforts to refurbish, equip and run our new Centre had raised £212,000.
On- and off-site consultations with volunteers, user groups, neighbours and friends of the Centre helped us make a range of decisions from the kind of flooring to positioning of storage. There was particular discussion around the lift, as the standard models on offer needed adaptations to suit more users with disabilities.
Inspecting the building works with Brian Power Building Services. Some items such as painting and decoration were not in the contract to keep costs down, and because so many people were coming forward to offer their time and skills, keen to make their mark on the final building!
14 February 2011:
Valentine raffle fundraiser for the new Centre Building Fund and to keep the community informed of developments.
October 2012 :
Black History Month was marked with an evening event – From Carnegie Hall & the Edinburgh Fringe to Crossroads. Award-winning writer, actor and baritone Tayo Aluko performed ‘From Black Africa to the White House’. Via songs, Jewish stories, a lemon and a great comic touch, Naomi Paul presented a distinctive take on our times in ‘Reshape While Damp’.
The All African Women’s group of asylum seeking women finally have the space to meet comfortably. The group has grown to include women from Eastern Europe, Iran, Latin America and other countries. Up to 90 women participate in self-help meetings, training workshops (below) and volunteer sessions to discuss their cases, offer mutual support and advice, learn how to help others with their cases, prepare for appeals, etc.
April 2012 :
Party to launch the new Centre, to thank and welcome friends, funders, volunteers and other supporters to our new premises. A delicious spread was provided by local specialist deli, Harry’s Food Hall. Wonderful performers entertained us with songs, mime and dance music. Deaf comedian Caro Sparks (photo) had us all in stitches.
March 2012 :
The 'painting team' of volunteers put the finishing touches on the new Centre. Renovation was completed in March 2012. Extensive adaptations made the Centre accessible to people with disabilities. Solar panels and other energy efficient measures helped make it environmentally sustainable. A sheltered cobble-stone courtyard, now full of donated flowers, herbs and shrubs in pots provides a calm outdoor space.
11 December 2013:
Soho Santas at the French House Pub, Soho, raised £1,005.70 and had a wonderful time doing so!
9 November 2013:
‘Women Together Speak Up – Making Community, Tackling Problems’ Women have a lot to say and sometimes are not shy about saying it! Over 80 women and some men crowded into the Women’s Centre for our event aimed at “giving a voice to those women whose needs are most likely to be neglected, especially in these hard times”.
Workshop at Parliament Hill School during Black History Month with members of the All African Women’s Group based at the Centre.
Stalls for our questionnaire, on Kentish Town High Road always draw in a crowd.
The Centre provides a base for self-help organisations and meeting space for community groups and activities such as the breastfeeding consultants above.
Our Kids Xmas Party was a hit again with children and their carers. Over 30 local children under 10 and their families crowded in to watch Captain Fantastic’s interactive DJ extravaganza.
Crossroads Children's playgroup runs fortnightly for children under five. Iin half-term children up to 10 join in enabling their mums to participate in asylum seekers' self-help sessions at the Centre.
The story of the Crossroads Women’s Centre – a young people’s film and photography project. This grew out of Made Possible by Squatting, an exhibition shown in September 2013, for which a young woman artist had made a beautiful pop-up book on the history of our different centres. They followed this up by recruiting and training a small group of young people aged 14 to 25 to make a film about the Centre.
January 2015 to February 2018
Performance of Sylvia, a one woman play about the life and art of Sylvia Pankhurst written and performed by Jacqueline Mulhallen. Relatives of Ms Pankhurst also attended.
An article about the Centre’s activities in the Tufnell Park Parents magazine attracted local mothers to volunteer and very regular donations of good quality clothing and small household items which are offered to asylum seekers and single mothers on benefit.
8 March 2015:
Honour Mothers, Honour All Carers exhibition, at the Centre. Women and men spoke about their sisters, mothers, wives, daughters and friends.
We celebrated 40 years of the Centre's history from 1975-2015 with the launch of the film made by a young people's project (see Feb.2014). The launch night was packed full of young and old.
The Centre Collective meeting where staff and volunteers discuss plans and evaluate activities.
November 2016 :
Memorials for our long time supporter, volunteer and playwright who sadly passed away aged 91. A lovely display of photos and documents and speeches from friends young and old commemorated her long and creative life.
We hosted a well attended exhibition and presentation, For Those Who Died Trying, with a spokeswoman from Protection International Thailand.
March 2016 :
A visit for International Women’s Day by 15 grandmothers from the Scottish Kinship Carers provided a great opportunity for sharing experiences and learning about the different family court system in Scotland and England.
January 2016 :
WinVisible, women with visible and invisible disabilities group, hold regular self help sessions for women facing benefit problems, health crises and issues with homeware.
Ms Captain Fantastic entertainer at the kids Christmas party. Local businesses, once again, pitched in with free pizzas, vouchers, presents for children and other help.
Support not Separation. Mothers facing problems with the family courts started to meet monthly at the Centre. Mothers and grandmothers (as well as supportive fathers) who have been unfairly separated from their children/grandchildren exchange experiences, support and encourage to each other.
We hosted representatives from the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand and women human rights defenders from Thailand.
6 March 2017:
Stall for the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone oral history project celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first payment of Family Allowance.
London Ambulance Service ran a second first aid-training workshop for all staff and volunteers at the Centre. All participants received a certificate.
November 2018 :
Black History Month saw the launch of a volume of essays on CLR James’ famous book about cricket, Beyond A Boundary, noted for its importance for anti-racism. It was introduced by his widow, Selma James (speaking above) and typist of the original manuscript!
Caring Consultation brought together a diversity of experiences from the point of view of single mothers, grandmothers, a psychotherapist, a midwife and a physiotherapist, breastfeeding support worker, and more.
Women from the Grenfell community made their banner at the Centre for the first anniversary of the fire.
Drama workshop run by the East London Federation of Suffragettes based around Syliva Pankhurst's play, Liberty or Death.