This month we passed a phenomenal landmark at South London Cares. On what might have seemed like an unassuming October morning, over 30 neighbours gathered in West Norwood and danced their way to South London Cares' 1000th Social Club!
It’s hard to believe that a little over 4 years ago we headed to Stockwell for our first ever get together, with just 3 volunteers, a handful of older neighbours and buckets of enthusiasm, setting off on our journey to keep south London compassionate, caring and connected.
Over the last 4 years, our network of older neighbours and young professionals has not only grown in size but also ambition. From bricklaying, to bee-keeping and Bollywood dancing, as well as hundreds of business visits behind the scenes of our capital’s most prestigious companies, social clubs wouldn’t be possible without you, our volunteers, community partners and local businesses offering your unique skills, local spaces and valuable time.
Your support means our social clubs break down the barriers which so often isolate older neighbours from a rapidly changing world. By welcoming us into your offices, you offer insight into jobs and technologies that didn't even exist 4 years ago, let alone half a decade ago when many older neighbours would have been preparing for retirement. By opening the doors to your work, Jean, Ros and Anton can feel better connected to the glimmering glass buildings rocketing up across the city, and clued up at a Social Club when someone introduces themselves as a "SEO Manager" or "Cloud Computing Specialist".
Your time spent at social clubs getting to know Tony and Pat, not only means that older neighbours feel deeply valued by their community and welcomed into conversations they might otherwise be excluded from, but you too come away feeling enormously valued. Social Clubs provide safe spaces for mutually beneficial friendship and fun - who doesn't like sharing a belly laugh with someone who was a stranger just a mere hour ago?
In turn, your skills and enthusiasm keep Social Clubs exciting and diverse. We've mixed cocktails, learnt street, salsa and Sri Lankan dancing and even stepped inside a boxing ring. Your creativity and wonderful offers of support help to smash the stereotypes of what you might typically expect older neighbours to enjoy doing.
Thank you for making the last 1000 Social Clubs an absolute blast and please keep those wonderful offers coming - Arif and Bola are already looking forward to belly dancing, beatboxing and having a nosy around a business with you.
To celebrate our 1000th Social Club, we caught up with some of our neighbours about their favourite moments and memories:
“We did an Egyptology workshop which was fascinating. I love the crafts too. Even if you’re not very good at it, it’s such a laugh. Oh and the bees! That was really different.” – Valerie, 79
“My favourites are the dances. Everyone joins in and has a go and we almost get there in the end. They’re lovely.” – Pat, 70
“One of the Creative Writing clubs was very, very funny. We were developing characters and we all had to be pretend to be strangers meeting on a cruise ship. Everyone got so into it, all putting on ridiculous accents and making up fictitious affairs and scandals – all sorts. We couldn’t stop laughing.” – Ruth
“Even just sitting down the Peckham Pelican having a chat – it’s lovely!” – Joan, 79
“The fashion party in September was so much fun. All of the neighbours got into teams and designed their own fashion collections. Everyone really worked together and they genuinely designed outfits you’d see on the catwalk.” – Carine
“I really enjoyed the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Aileen explained the mysteries of moon worship and we tried some traditional mooncakes (I don’t even like cake!)” – Peter, 81
“Every single Desert Island Discs is so enjoyable. Everyone has a story, some have a dance, others just sit back and enjoy the music. There’s some seriously strange moves that makes us all smile. We just love it!” – Anita, 74
“I love asking questions at the business visits, learning about all sorts of jobs. We went to an artist studio recently and they were so generous with their time.” – Anton
“At one of the Desert Island Discs, Pat and Frances just couldn’t stop laughing at this Fleetwood Mac song. They were in hysterics and then we all were. They’ve got a wicked sense of humour.” – Polly
“Dancing with Joe was really special. All of the dances have been wonderful. Oh and anything that involves Pat in a funny hat!” – Robyn
“I like the quiz club, it keeps your brain active.” – Rene
“I’ve loved all of them. To me it gets you out, you meet new friends, you see old ones. Just keep them coming!” – Pat, 80
Posted by Emily Groves on Wednesday 24th October 2018
Alongside Morgan, Emily is the Programme Coordinator for Social Clubs at South London Cares. Emily designs and delivers Social Clubs across Southwark and Lambeth. Previously she worked for a touring young people's theatre company.