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 Long The 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.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories


Jeremy Corbyn has criticised “disgusting” treatment of the Windrush generation – including a number of his Islington North constituents.


We held a local elections hustings last night. Sadly, barely anyone turned up. There was still good debate, though. James Morris reports from St Mary’s Church in Upper Street.


Police are trying to track down a prolific shoplifter who assaulted a man and has twice pulled weapons when confronted about stealing booze from Tesco in Stroud Green Road.

Yesterday, 16:28

Police are appealing for information on Islington teenager Marcus Simmonds, who has been missing from his St Paul’s Road home since Saturday.

Yesterday, 15:50

A man has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon as murder police continue to investigate the stabbing of 20-year-old Kwasi Anim-Boadu on the Andover Estate.

Yesterday, 15:43

In a weekly feature, we profile and champion a fascinating shop or company doing business here in Islington. This week, we visited Newington Green’s Acoustic: Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite restaurant.

Yesterday, 11:37

A parent has called for greater police presence in troubled Rosemary Gardens after a huge brawl yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, 11:05

Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith offered himself as a “swap” for hostages on a hijacked Kuwaiti airliner.


“I try and do my best to enhance the young person’s capabilities. I’m very focused on their education, their wellbeing and their cultural needs.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now