Talented homeless musicians head to Rosemary Branch Theatre for recording session with hostel worker’s group

PUBLISHED: 14:49 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:07 05 December 2017

The recording session at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Picture: Rhiannon Long

The recording session at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Picture: Rhiannon Long


An Islington music group is handing the mic to talented young homeless people.

The recording session at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Picture: Rhiannon LongThe recording session at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Mark Pollock, 26, set up Agitate to combine his love of music with his work in youth hostels.

After working in a theatre in Leeds, he came to Islington to manage a youth hostel in Barnsbury.

“I used to bring my guitar to the hostel,” he said.

“The talent there was insane.

“But when you’re in these hostels, there’s either no time or no encouragement to pursue it.”

Agitate’s first venture into the music world came in the form of an intimate recording on Friday evening at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Baring Street, Canonbury.

A planned four-hour session - which ended up being squeezed into just an hour and a half – saw Mark, along with singers Sarah and Louisa, write, perform and film their own song.

Mark met Sarah, 19, when she was living in the hostel he managed, and Louisa, 20, through a contact at homeless charity Centrepoint.

“I’m confident – Mark’s found me gigs and I’ve got a really positive perspective,” Sarah said.

“I’ve realised you can make your own happiness.

"Good music is about struggle, and that’s relatable whoever you are."

Musician Louisa

“But all this has stemmed from Mark – he’s an inspirational person.”

The trio were joined by hip-hop star A$AP Rocky’s protege Joe Fox, who helped them with writing music.

“I reached out to Joe over Twitter,” Mark said.

“I knew he’d experienced homelessness himself, and now he’s this world-touring musician.”

Louisa was born in south-east London, but moved around constantly growing up. She now lives at Centrepoint in Balham.

“Music’s got to be natural and relatable,” she said.

“We get told what to care about through music and TV, and it’s the stuff society tells us to care about which makes us unhappy.

“People where we come from aren’t happy – they’re not happy with being controlled.

“The song we wrote today was about music making the world go round, which is true, but it shouldn’t be – it should be love, respect and honesty.

“Good music is about struggle, and that’s relatable whoever you are.”

Mark is hoping to hold similar sessions with young people every two months, and will be asking big names in the music industry to help fund the project.

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Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

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