City YMCA London dedicate land for a new hostel to change the lives of over 10,000 homeless young Londoners over the next 60 years - JULY 2017

Around 40 people including a Lord, a Mayor, a Sheriff and a Dean, gathered today in Errol Street, Islington to perform an act of dedication as the Old Errol Street Hostel is pulled down.  


It was the Queen Mother, who on the 2nd April 1985 inaugurated the new hostel building in memory of Janani Luwum, the Bishop of Uganda martyred on the orders of the then-President Idi Amin. A statue in his memory still stands on the front of Westminster Abbey. The Queen Mother, Lords, Ladies and Ambassadors in attendance on that day paid tribute to his memory with his wife attending the opening.


It was the conviction of a small group of dedicated people that made the opening of the hostel possible back in 1985. Some 32 years later and the same spirit in City YMCA London remains in place today.


Today The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Very Rev Dr David Ison led a group of about 40 people in an act of dedication for the land that would site the new building.


Gillian Bowen, Chief Executive at City YMCA London said:

“We were told ‘it’s impossible’ to build a new hostel for homeless young people in London. We said that we must make it possible. We will talk with people to help make this happen. We were told ‘it’s risky’. There is always risk in developing a new building but what is the risk to the 10,000 young people we anticipate will pass through our door if we do not seek to support them and give them a second chance at life? And we were told ‘it’s pointless’ – that we would be better off selling the site and sending the young people elsewhere. And we replied - But where would they go? Then we looked at this with our heart and said that we must ‘give it a try’ and offer young homeless Londoners what they deserve – an opportunity to excel. Our belief that this building will garner new life for young lives commences now. And so we look forward to the next stage of the journey, when the new building starts to take shape.”


Thirty years of wear and tear by over 10,000 homeless young Londoners meant that the old Errol Street hostel was unfit for purpose. With demolition of the old building now well progressed, City YMCA London now has the opportunity to build a new home fit for tomorrow’s homeless young people.


James Murray, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing said:

“I know that those facing homelessness and facing the threat of having to sleep rough, their lives can be particularly difficult in trying to get back on track. Which is why the kind of work that the YMCA is doing is so important and so fantastic that I am pleased to be here with you today.”


Peter Estlin, Sherriff and Alderman of the City of London said:

“I have been inspired by your leadership over the last few years. Having the courage to take this building down and start again, I really truly believe that this building will be a fantastic beacon to the whole community“.


The Mayor of Islington, Una O’Halloran said:

“It’s a pleasure for me to be here to represent the London Borough of Islington, one of the great partners of the YMCA. A lot of the young people who come here are our young people in the borough. We know the important work you do and we are looking forward to continuing the strong relationship that we have with the YMCA.“


6,000 people attend the eighth street party - JULY 2017


The unique, annual, Whitecross Street Party was heralded as a huge success on Saturday 15th July as an estimated 6,000 people took to the street to enjoy a line-up of performances from artists and the local community in Islington.


The Mayor of Islington Una O’Halloran, MP Emily Thornberry and all three Bunhill Ward councilors were in attendance on an afternoon that lifted the lid on the talent that Islington has to offer.


Local Councilor Troy Gallagher said:

This year's Whitecross Street Party was the best ever with a huge array of performances to suit every age and taste. Local residents and visitors loved every minute of it and the carnival atmosphere was electric! We the local councilors were delighted to support this local treasure. Huge thanks to Gillian, the YMCA and Teddy Baden for all their work organising such a brilliant event.“


City YMCA Chief Executive Gillian Bowen says:

"It was a pleasure to host the infamous Whitecross Street Party on Saturday and for City YMCA London to bring a huge dose of community cheer to the local area. Seeing thousands of people of all races, ages, cultures and creeds out on the street together is what London is all about. In these challenging times City YMCA London was delighted to offer some fun and frivolity whilst raising awareness of a topical issue, the crime of homelessness." 


All -girl rock band The Hulas from Prior Weston School were one of the local groups that stole the show. Presented by local partner Key Changes the five-girl line up was featured on the events Main Stage that also welcomed live music performances from Coffee Pot Drive, Dat Brass, Hotdog Grrrrl and the Sesame Buns. Youth media partner Dragonhall presented an eclectic line up of live music on the Youth Takeover Stage and Islington Oxjam provided the perfect chill out showcase on an Acoustic Stage.

Prangsta costumiers and members of the community addressed the theme ‘the Crime of Homelessness’ in a bespoke catwalk show ‘From Rags to Riches’.

Unruly WX Street Party Performers took to the streets to surprise with a bit of silliness. The party welcomed The Roosting Big BirdsThe Mobile Phone, the Suitcase Puppet Shows and The Fear of Fluff

The WX Dance Floor welcomed Counterpoint Dance Company, The Big House, HSS Punk Choir the over 55's Nimble Western Line Dancers and The Strictly Stylish Sequence Dancers.

The Purple Ladies pitched up in Fortune Street Park with circus skills and cabaret, and were joined by Tower Bridge activities, Yoyo the face painter and the bouncy castle. The Take-Part-Art area at Banner Street, alongside artists Aida, Lori, Wreckage International and puppeteers from Little Angel Theatre.


Outdoor Exhibition – The Rise of the Nonconformists

The party heralds the opening of The Rise of the Nonconformists exhibition that breaks most social norms. This street art exhibition is mounted on Whitecross Street buildings for eight weeks from Monday 17th July, using the art created by 40 artists at the WXSP itself. On Saturday a team of 40 local artists took to the street at live painting sites. The work of artists such as Aveaskeg, The Hidden Printer, Ant Carver, Mr Switch, Ben Rider, Cityzen Kane, Solo One, Krom, Carl Cashman, Ronzo, Pakal and Coby Walsh will now become the centre of the exhibition curated by artist Teddy Baden which opens TODAY through to the 15th September 2017.  


The Whitecross Street Party and The Rise of the Nonconformist is hosted by local charity City YMCA, London working with the London Borough of Islington and with local support. The event is produced by Anila Ladwa.

A Registered Charity No 1053864

A Registered Company No 3169665

Housing Agency No H4099



After four years of planning, and with the help of a strong network of friends and partners, City YMCA London are delighted to announce that the re-development of the Errol Street site is to proceed. Costing some £19m, the worn-out old building will be handed over to contractors in August for demolition. A brand new flagship hostel is due to open in June 2018 giving a home and a future to 10,000 young homeless Londoners over the next 60 years.

Gillian Bowen, Chief Executive of City YMCA London said:

“Today marks a significant step forward for London’s homeless young people. The new hostel will shape the external environment standard of hostel and move-on accommodation for homeless young people in London and beyond.“ 

Existing residents are in the process of being re-homed in other hostel provision across London including City YMCA London’s own decant accommodation, Monarch Court in Hackney. Refurbished at a cost of £1.8m, this former old peoples care home now offers shelter to 87 young people.

Appeal Patron, the Rt Rev & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London said:

“This has been an opportunity to leave a legacy for London’s young people. Together London is making that possible.”

City YMCA London retains the challenge to raise a further £3.5m over the next two years to ensure that the new home is built to the specification required, giving the best chances for young people well into the future.

Appeal Chairman, Colin Passmore, Senior Partner at Simmons & Simmons, said:

“Securing the funding for this vision hasn’t been without it’s challenges. We’re delighted to have the support of the London Mayor with a multi-million point grant alongside the support of a number of leading Foundations, Companies and individuals. Our thanks goes to them all for placing their faith in the vision of the City YMCA London team.” 

City YMCA London would like to thank the following funding partners:

  • 29th May 1961 Charity
  • Albert Hunt Trust
  • All Churches Trust
  • Allen & Overy
  • Argus Media
  • BNY Mellon
  • Chenevix Trench Family
  • City Bridge Trust
  • City YMCA Friends
  • Colin Williams
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Jack Petchey Foundation
  • Laing Family Trusts
  • LandAid
  • Linklaters
  • Mark Henshaw at Grant Thornton


City YMCA London are now appealing for people to get behind the fundraising appeal to make the fitting out of the building possible. CLICK FOR DETAILS ON HOW TO ENGAGE

Matterhorn Capital

Michael Hufton

Oak Foundation


Simmons & Simmons

Slaughter & May

Smith & Williamson

South Hackney Parochial Foundation

St Pauls Cathedral

Stephenson Harwood

Travers Smith

Trowers & Hamlins

Trustees of City YMCA London

Worshipful Company of Clothworkers

Other friends that wish to remain anonymous



City YMCA London calls on Mayoral candidates to put young people first in Manifesto for May’s election.

Young people from City YMCA London are calling on the next Mayor of London to combat low wages, rising levels of rough sleepers and a lack of housing caused by wasted brownfield land in the first ever YMCA in London Manifesto.

Major recommendations from the YMCA in THE LONDON MANIFESTO include:

  • Utilise previously occupied business spaces and redevelop them into suitable low-cost accommodation

Invest in the development of alternative models of accommodation and provide opportunities for land to be used to deploy such models

Pay the London Living Wage to all young people aged under 25-years-old who work within GLA services or on GLA-funded contracts

Invest in alternative models of supporting young people who are homeless, such as supported lodgings and Housing First

Provide mental health training to Met Police Officers in order to help them to identify and treat people in an appropriate way, who they suspect to have mental health conditions.


A redundant Care Home has been given a new lease of life as Hackney's first hostel for homeless young people. Monarch Court is possibly the first new hostel to open in London for years. With the numbers of young people being made homeless in London doubling over the last two years, the 87 beds will help nearly 2,000 young homeless people get their lives back on track over the next 15 years.

City YMCA London would like to thank the Greater London Authority, City Bridge Trust and the South Hackney Parochial Foundation for their partnership in this success.


City YMCA London's Chief Executive, Gillian Bowen comments on the direction that the new government appear to be taking in respect to the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bills. MORE