Who’s who: This Tufnell Park vicar is also a housing activist

Alexandra Lilley speaking at a Community Plan for Holloway event. Picture: Lucas Cumsikey

Alexandra Lilley speaking at a Community Plan for Holloway event. Picture: Lucas Cumsikey - Credit: Archant

A Tufnell Park priest wants to open her church up to the community – and she’s fighting for more social housing in Islington.

Alexandra Lilley, 38, is the vicar at St George’s and All Saints Church, in Tufnell Park, where she’s led the parish for just under two years.

“What I love about St George’s is that it’s a diverse church,” she said. “So we have everything from newborn babies up to our oldest member who is 103.

“In our society we’re so often categorised according to our age or gender and other forms of identity.

“And I just love that at St George’s we have a wonderful mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds.”

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She listed some of the activities on offer in her church, from a free playgroup every Thursday called Tufnell Tots; to a bi-monthly Messy Church class where people of all ages can have a laugh in a “very un-churchy church experience”; and a traditional weekly congregation, which attracts some 45 worshippers on a Sunday.

Alexandra’s also been active in the campaign to reclaim the former HMP Holloway site for the good of the community.

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The vicar said: “Having encountered so many people who are in desperate need of housing, both those who are homeless and rough sleeping and those in inadequate accommodation or on the housing waiting list, it’s one of the key issues for Islington.

“It’s nine acres of land which could either be luxury flats or it could be affordable housing, a women’s building and a green space for the community.”

But she added:“I think a vicar must show sensitivity and be non-partisan. I want to be the priest for the whole parish.”

Alexandra explained that at her previous gig, when she worked at a church in Shadwell, there was a majority Muslim population in her parish.

“So engaging with the local mosque to build relationships was a key priority,” she said. “That’s obviously very important in Islington as well but it’s not as pressing as the housing issue.”

And Alexandra, who was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2011, said St George’s is building relationships with its two local primary schools – Yerbury and Tufnell Park.

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