As we near the end of our building project I am reflecting on the tenacity and hard work of so many people to get to this exciting stage. This project has been a part of my life since I moved to Hoxton over 20 years ago. For my children, now 24 and 20, this is all they have ever know their mother do! At times it has felt like an impossible task, but for nearly all those 20 years, it has felt like a path I just had to travel. No matter what obstacles and hurdles were put in our way, it has always felt inevitable that we will succeed in the end, because we just had to, for the families of Hoxton. They deserve a lovely place to bring their children where they can find love, support, friendship, advice and care. Ivy Street is unique in its loving care of the whole family. We care about the whole family and continue to care about families long after their children have gone to school. It’s a very special place.

So it was just not acceptable to fail in rebuilding the wholly inadequate old pub that we had occupied for nearly 40 years.

11 things to know about the Ivy Street building:

  1. It was built in 1902
  2. It was originally a pub called the Queen Adelaide
  3. It still has the original pub sign bracket on the front wall
  4. It was sold to a local youth charity in 1965 for £1
  5. It was given to Allie Harper in 1981 to start the Ivy Street Family Centre
  6. The stairs to the basement were built by a local vicar
  7. It used to host the ONLY café in Hoxton on Saturdays
  8. It was the only pre-school play group in the area for years
  9. It only had heating on one side of the main room.
  10. It had squatters, briefly, after we moved out. They ate the beans and drank the wine that we had stored in the basement.
  11. The new design preserves the history but gives the building new life for the next 100 years

There have been so many people involved in pushing this project forward over the last 20 years, sadly some no longer with us, and we are grateful to each and every person who joined with us to push this massive boulder up and down the mountains. We have weathered all kinds of storms, including the Financial Crash in 2008, perfectly timed to coincide with our first major fundraising effort!

There have also been some wonderful highlights, we were able to launch our fundraising campaign in a room at the House of Lords and were overwhelmed with the support we were shown for the project. We had a fundraising caterpillar up on the wall at Ivy Street and the families raised money with cake sales and jumble sales, a sponsored toddle around Shoreditch Park with me leading the way dressed as a Teletubby is a particularly fond memory!

Sometimes I thought my head was going to explode with the frustration of it, but we just kept putting one foot in front of the other and tried never to lose faith in making it to the end.

The faith of all the people involved has been inspirational, we could not be where we are now without the faithful prayers and hard work of all that have gone before us. I think of Philip who battled with Hackney for years to purchase the pavement around the building, enabling us to build a much bigger facility. I think of Nettie who worked on a Business Plan for months so that we could raise the necessary funds. I think of Andrew who diligently filled in funding application after funding application. I think of Robert who spent hours negotiating the final development agreement so that we have the building we need. There are so many more who faithfully gave hours and hours of their time to make this happen. It is a humbling thought.

I hope that many of those people will join with us when we eventually have our Grand Opening and can rejoice with us in the completion of our Ivy Street dreams.