Called to the Streets

Published on June 22, 2012

Mary Harris-Mayes, loves her day job – driving XLP’s bright purple double decker bus around North London. She takes her mobile youth venue to the same housing estates on the same day each week and with an XLP team, meets up with young people in the area.

When she is not working for XLP, she forms a part of the Eden team in Bow, East London.  Working with another charity has meant that when she spends time with young people on her own estate, she is mindful of what else is going on around London for young people their age.

As she sat with some kids recently, looking at the videos they’d made with footage of a friend’s funeral in tribute to him, she could see how important music was to them and started thinking about whether XLP could work together with Eden to help them out.

“They would often sit on a street corner, listening to music on their phones and spitting lyrics,” said Mary. “They used what they had and they pulled something together, however basic, and I wanted to see if I could help get them some equipment to develop those skills.

“So I arranged for XLP’s recording van to visit the estate, to give the young people a chance to have a go at laying down some tracks with decent equipment and there was a great response. It was easy for me to arrange because of my links with XLP and Eden volunteers were there to provide the manpower.

“Before Eden I was already living in an ‘Eden way’, but I had times when I felt really alone in it because I didn’t have support. Of course I had the support of my church but I felt like I was doing it alone. Now I am on an estate with Eden and I know there are others living here in an ‘Eden-minded way’, as there are in XLP. There is such a togetherness and we have come from different places to intentionally live together and build this community together, like family and modelling family to the young people.

“It’s still early days here, making friends with the kids. They don’t really know how to take us yet, they don’t have a category for us, but they are developing a new one in their mind – these people who follow through and do what they said they’d do and turn up each week when they say they will.”

To find out more about Eden Bow, you can look at the team page or email team leader Alex Hall direct on, bow@eden-network.org.