Islington, London: Tricia Zipfel, housing activist

Colour photograph of Tricia Zipfel


1970s onwards


Islington, London

Tricia Zipfel worked with Professor Anne Power and others to build community organisations which improved play facilities and tackled housing problems in densely populated Islington.  

Many local mums became play leaders, some playgroups expanded into full time nurseries, community playgrounds flourished, and to this day many of these projects still offer crucial support to local families across the borough.

In 1968, appalling housing conditions in the private sector, large scale ‘slum clearance’ and a lack of Council accommodation affected both established and recently arrived minority families. Tricia and Anne worked with tenants who faced eviction and successfully campaigned to get many of these families re-housed. But minority families often ended up scattered across London, losing community links and their local support networks. A better solution was needed.

So, in 1972, Holloway Tenants Cooperative (HTC) was formed and, as the first community run management co-op in the UK, HTC began to acquire, renovate and manage local houses. Later, North Islington Housing Rights Project helped establish more co-ops and persuaded Islington Council to stop large scale demolition and to renovate instead. 

After working with the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee, USA, for two years, Tricia returned to Islington to run HTC. 

13 year old Yolanda King and 11 year old Martin Luther King III watch a group of pre-school children playing with clay.
Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda King and son Martin Luther King III watch children playing at Lough Road Playgroup. Credit: Islington Gazette.

Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda King and son Martin Luther King III visited Lough Road Playgroup, Islington on 17 March 1969. They were in the UK as their mother Coretta Scott King was speaking that evening at Westminster Central Hall at a public meeting entitled Coretta King Speaks.

I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.

Coretta Scott King

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