The Margins Project

A guest at our Drop In. Photo by Daniela Sbrisny.

Margins has developed a range of services designed to support people facing homelessness, risk of homelessness, crisis and isolation. We have a range of services that aim to help people with their long term recovery. Our approach is to recognise people by their potential, not by their misfortune and we are committed to social inclusion.

Who we aremargins high res

We are a secular project based in Union Chapel at the heart of Islington. We have come a long way since people started knocking on the door with nowhere else to go, hungry and in need of help. Today, our varying services are based on relationships, recognising that if we do not know our clients and build trust and a rapport, we cannot help them. We work in partnership with the Pilion Trust and a range of other agencies, who can provide intensive specialist support such as rehoming.

It all started in 1992 when, faced by a clear need Union Chapel Church and its members opened a space on Sunday afternoons that provided hot meals and an empathetic ear.  Word spread, numbers grew and with its open door policy, Union Chapel became known as somewhere to go. In the mid-2000s the project began to develop as a semi-autonomous charity with its own identity. Since then we have been growing our service provision and morphing into the hub of activity we are now. Today we work with many of London’s most disenfranchised and poorest people.

In 2013, we became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), giving us semi-autonomous status and our very own Charity Number: 1153070

Contact Margins

Our Team

We are a small dedicated team who manage day to day operations. Our great team of volunteers are central to our work and we rely heavily on their tireless support and commitment. These include ex-clients and many local Islington residents who help us in a multitude of ways from helping at the night shelter (from January to March each year), cooking, cleaning showers and washing up. People can play to their strengths and sometimes learn new skills.

We always love to hear from folk interested in getting involved and there are many ways to do it!


What we do

Our clients have a spectrum of needs and our support services are designed to help each person at their stage of recovery. Homelessness is a complex issue, not least of all navigating the complexity of ever-changing services. This is why our partnerships are so important and why we need to build trust and relationships as an essential part of recovery.

We have a range of services that include: –

  • Winter Shelter: for street homeless people, The Chapel operates on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning as part of the CARIS Islington circuit.
  • Drop-in: We run a drop-in for anyone who needs help with housing, benefits and seeks support around health and mental issues. The drop-in runs from 2 to 4 pm. every Wednesday but will run from 9.30 to 12 noon from Wednesday 7th September. We will also be starting a women’s drop-in from 9.30 to 12 noon every Monday starting from Monday 12th September.
  • Supported Employment Programme:  At any one time we offer 6 candidates, who were formerly homeless or have experienced crisis or isolation, paid employment on our programme. The kitchen trainees, with the help of our Resident Chef (a former trainee himself), learn how to prepare good nutritious food for the numerous gigs that take place throughout the year in the Chapel. They learn how a kitchen is run and will earn a Level 2 Certificate in Food Hygiene. We have also recently expanded the programme to include an office trainee who gains essential administrative skills. The trainees stay with us for up to 6 months and are supported into moving into paid employment or further training.
  • Art focused groups: We run an art and framing group. Being creative can unlock many talents and opportunities for people as well as learning new skills or honing existing ones.
  • Employability Programme: Our trainees learn essential skills such as successful interview techniques, how to do a good CV,  how to navigate job websites and will learn about their employee rights. This programme will also be open to our drop-in clients from September.
  • Daylight Café: Most Saturdays between 12-2pm, Arctic Circle run the brilliant Daylight concerts. We have a team of Margins staff, including some of the trainees, and volunteers who run the Daylight Café raising funds for our services.

Winter Night Shelter

Café Training ProgrammeArt & Framing WorkshopsMargins Daylight Café


Two participants in our weekly art group stand by their work. Photo Daniela Sbrisny.

Art Group

Key Highlights from 2014-15:

  • Our drop-in was accessed by an average 140 people each week and we provided 7,540 hot meals and 350 showers.
  • Our night shelter provided 195 bed spaces, 65 showers and 442 meals to approximately 80 homeless people.
  • 50% of trainees found temporary employment following their involvement in our Café Training programme.

Margins Café Training Programme serve food at most gigs & events – Join us for dinner next time you come to a concert!


What you can do

Our work is only possible because of the generous support of a range of funders.

Our Supporters

There are many ways you can get involved and help support The Margins Project: