Mayor’s Charity 2023-2024

Working for a fairer Islington by supporting community and voluntary action

Message from the
Mayor of Islington
Councillor Gary Heather

I am delighted to have chosen Voluntary Action Islington (VAI) as the Mayor’s Charity of the Year 2023-2024. VAI is the umbrella body for the local Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector (VCFSE) and runs the borough’s accredited Volunteer Centre.  VAI strives to expand volunteering to enable more people living locally to support others across the borough. I have seen their fantastic work first-hand, for example providing much-needed support mobilising volunteers during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis as well as equipping local organisations with essential community training, including Mental Health First-Aid and Making Every Conversation Count, to name but a few. VAI has enabled  thousands of volunteers to assist others in their community, and I have great admiration for their staff is so committed to improving the lives of others in our community

In all of my work – as Mayor, as a councillor, and throughout my career – combatting inequality has been my driving force. In this way, I think myself and VAI are particularly well-matched, as I have seen how they are working to bridge the inequality divide in Islington. We also both see the double benefit to voluntary work – the benefit for volunteers, who can gain skills and a sense of community, and the benefit for the communities being supported.


When we are more equal, everyone does better, was the message in Kate Picket and Richard Wilkinson’s book The Spirit Level.  VAI and I were part of Islington Council’s Inequality Task Force, helping to shape the vision and ways of how we challenge inequality in the borough.

VAI’s advice and support to local organisations enables them to manage and strengthen their volunteer base. This work makes such a positive difference and is increasingly important given the economic challenges local people are facing and the key role Voluntary, Community and Faith organisations play in providing support to Islington’s diverse communities.

The Mayor of Islington (2023-24), Councillor Gary Heather


Islington Mayor Visits Voluntary Action Islington

Islington Mayor Cllr Gary Heather visits VAI

Islington Mayor Cllr Gary Heather visited the Voluntary Action Islington (VAI) hub on August 15th to learn more about the work that VAI does to support the local voluntary and community sector. VAI is the Mayor’s chosen charity of the year, and he will be helping to raise funds for VAI throughout his tenure.

During his visit, the Mayor met with representatives from VAI and from some of the partner organisations hosted at VAI’s hub, including Action for Race Equality, Health Prom, Migrant Voice, City Year UK, Headliners, Hear Network, Islington Refugee Forum and Say it Loud Club. The Mayor heard about the important work that these organisations do to support Islington’s diverse local communities.

Click here for more pictures from the day.


Voluntary Action Islington in their annual Volunteer of the Years Awards celebrates the huge contribution made by volunteers and Adrian won the Islington Trustee of the Year Award in 2021.

Adrian’s Story

Adrian has been a Trustee since 2016 and supporter of the Elfrida Society for over 20 years. During this time, he has played different crucial roles as a volunteer and a paid group member of the Power & Control Group, representing the voice and needs of the Learning Disabilities community and fighting for their rights. Throughout his life Adrian has been a passionate and dedicated champion for the Learning Disabilities community and he is their representative at different forums including the Islington Learning Disabilities Partnership Board and Sub-groups.

Adrian not only has personal experience as a person with a learning disability, physical disabilities, and long-term conditions, but also as a partner of someone with learning disabilities and long-term health conditions and as parent and carer of someone with autism. Despite adversity and the difficult times faced during the pandemic, Adrian hasn’t let it stop him from fighting for equal rights and justice, and Adrian’s passion, tenacity and determination is admirable (Elfrida Society).

If you are interested in volunteering in Islington

You can register as a volunteer or look for volunteer roles in the borough online or by calling 0207 832 5826  or emailing, and VAI will provide face-to-face support to start your volunteering journey.

Whatever your time availability, access needs, and personal interests, VAI can find the right voluntary role to fit you and support you through the application and recruitment process.