Last month Jacksons Lane closed its doors as part of a nationwide effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. We cancelled our upcoming shows – hoping to host the companies as soon as we can – and refunded tickets, though many people opted to donate the cost of their tickets to Jacksons Lane in an incredibly generous display of support.
It's not like us to just sit and wait until things blow over: Jacksons Lane has always been a key part of its local, cultural communities. So – as much as possible within the vital restraints on movement imposed by the government – we've updated, digitised and persevered with our community and cultural activities.
Most of Jacksons Lane's work helps vulnerable people, including marginalised groups or those who just need a bit of support. It's especially important that we continue to help those people now.
1. Feeling Good
Every year we welcome around 100 older and disabled neighbours, who’d otherwise spend the day alone, to Jacksons Lane on Christmas Day for a brilliant and fun celebration. It's one of our longest-standing traditions, and we're very proud of it.
Many of these guests are isolated throughout the year, and will feel especially isolated now, so we’ve launched Feeling Good, a service to re-engage with these guests at this especially isolating period. Our volunteers call the older guests - to check they're OK and have everything they need, but also just for a chat.
As social distancing measures continue to be extended, we want to expand this project, but we need public support to make that happen.
Our Broadway Brunches normally sees us bring the most inspiring and exhilarating performers - singers, dancers, circus artists and more - into the London Borough of Haringey's care homes.
Of course it's especially important that movement restrictions are observed in care homes, so we've temporarily replaced the Brunches with a brand new Befriending scheme, in which volunteer Befrienders - many of them performers and singers - are matched to care home residents. They then set up regular phone calls for a chat, a laugh and a sing.
3. Lockdown Lunches
Social Lunches, previously a monthly hang-out at Jacksons Lane for people over 55, has been moved online, is now weekly, and now has the great new title Lockdown Lunches. One of our best-renowned events, the Thursday lunches are a lifeline of companionship and culture for Haringey’s older residents. We can't provide the actual lunches at the moment, but the conversation is as sparkling and uplifting as ever. First-timers are very welcome!
Lockdown Lunchers meet on Zoom. We've successfully put some participants in touch with Coffee and Computers, a local free tech service, to teach them the basics of Zoom - they've also got a handy article here.
4. JL Circus
Our free Youth Circus groups for ages 8 to 18, normally based in Tottenham and Wood Green, have also moved online. In-person sessions are replaced by live Quarantine Sessions video lessons by circus practitioners, and Zoom chats.
Anyone can watch these video lessons, which so far include balancing store-cupboard items, juggling socks and much more. They are all led by experienced and very entertaining professional circus artists.
5. Online Classes
We normally have one of the busiest programmes of classes and courses in north London. Many of our brilliant class tutors have taken their classes online, either as video lessons or resource packs. We're also providing a platform for many more tutors to put on live classes.
Working with our associate artists, we’ve created a channel of short, creative tutorials teaching circus and movement skills, which can be practised from the comfort of home. Often silly and always educational, they're a great way to stay active and learn new skills, including juggling, handstanding, acrobalancing and more.
7. Artist Surgeries
Our Artistic team is holding free Artist Surgeries to support circus artists. In these surgeries, we give information and guidance about funding applications and other opportunities available to artists in this really challenging time. Where appropriate, we can flag services and organisations that can help each artist.