New Mayor of Islington on Ben Kinsella Trust: ‘I want to do more than fundraising’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 May 2016
Cllr Kat Fletcher, former manager of the Tufnell Park Tavern, tells James Morris she has knife crime in her sights as mayor.
At 36, “Kat from the pub” is a fresh-faced new Mayor of Islington.
And over the next year, Cllr Fletcher will use her relative youth to tackle one of the critical issues among our young people.
Her chosen charity is the Ben Kinsella Trust, which raises awareness about knife crime. Ben, 16, was brutally stabbed to death in Holloway in 2008.
And in her first mayoral interview with the Gazette, Cllr Fletcher made it clear her role will not just be ceremonial.
“I want it to be more than just a money-making exercise. I hope we can do this in a different way, although I am still thinking about that.
“Ben went to Holloway School in my ward [St George’s]. Knife crime has gone through stages since then but with the rather tragic rise across the borough recently, it felt right. The council identified that itself with the budget [dedicating £500,000 for mentors with a “strong track record” of turning vulnerable young lives around] so it goes hand in hand with that.
“The deaths last year were hugely shocking. You talk to people and they are frightened, not just for themselves and their kids, but also as an issue that may spiral out of control. We have to tackle that.”
Cllr Fletcher works in the Parliamentary office of Islington North MP and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. She was a key part of his leadership campaign, though political ties are strictly off limits when she dons the robe and chains.
Originally from Sheffield, she was elected on to the council in 2013 having moved to the borough in 2004 as president of the National Union of Students (NUS), then based in Holloway Road.
And her time running the Tufnell Park Tavern is crucial to her “brand” of politics.
“I would be there all day, so I got to know a lot of people: mums with their pastries in the morning, the dining crowd at lunch and in the evening, and the blokes stood with their pints at the bar.
“When I stood [for the council] in 2013, I had strong connections having been very active for Labour in the 2010 general election campaign. But what struck me during my campaign was that it was very helpful being ‘Kat from the pub’. It meant I didn’t come across as a typical politician.
“I’m still the person that organises the Christmas lights switch-on in Tufnell Park. I’m still very accessible like that.”
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