A drag performer wearing a purple dress and a ginger bob wig is singing to the guests who are all dancing

Loneliness Week: What do we have to offer?

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week, a campaign to raise awareness of loneliness and bring older adults together across the UK.

“Did you know that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all?” – Age UK

At Jacksons Lane, we understand the value of bringing a community together to talk, to read, to dance, the small things we take for granted are always better together. Our Community & Volunteers Manager and Creative Engagement Assistant, Joanna and Maxime are sharing more about what we do at Jacksons Lane, as well as the upcoming programme with Haringey Circle and Public Voice.  

Two women sit at a table with biscuits and tea. One is facing away from the camera talking to an older woman who is laughing enjoying their chat.
Feeling Good. Photo credit: Suzanne Plunkett

Though it is something we all experience, it is important to remember that discussions around loneliness are often stigmatised. Therefore it is very natural that people who struggle with loneliness can find themselves unable to reach out and seek help. This is something that we understand as an organisation. It is our job to make them feel welcome and excited to come along to activities, connect with others and try something they haven’t done before.

Pushing this agenda has become even more crucial in a post-Covid world, where anxieties around health and socialising run higher than ever. We want to remind people of the value there is in being together again. The activities that we programme for over 50s residents in the community have wellbeing, physical movement and creativity in mind alongside the aim of reducing isolation by connecting people.

We currently run weekly hour-long sessions of Caribbean Dance and Seated Yoga, which have been increasingly popular and have had a positive impact on participant wellbeing and confidence. We have seen this especially when we work together on a performance at the end, as with our Poetry for the People project, our Feeling Connected group in which elderly participants came together weekly to make an iPad film, and with the fabulous routine we are currently working on in Caribbean Dance with Sheba Monserrat. The people who come regularly have said they hadn’t thought themselves capable of such confident creativity, but over the weeks, as anxiety and loneliness is chipped away at through joyful togetherness and skill-building, it is made possible.

We also run monthly social events: our Social Lunch here at Jacksons Lane, as well as Broadway Brunch, a cabaret-style event that runs in supported living schemes across the borough in collaboration with Haringey Housing, featuring drag artists, storytellers and dancers. It’s really important to us that our participants feel they are really part of a wonderful community moment, rather than a charity event.

These events have sparked confidence in attendees with groups and individuals creating their own work to perform! We have seen poems entitled ‘Broadway Brunch’, countless renditions of ‘Sweet Caroline’, and even a band that has formed and perform for us on the guitar and harmonica. Everybody appreciates these events as an opportunity to get together with your community, and while having a laugh, chat, sing and dance.

These events are of course special occasions, so on quieter days our team makes sure to call our regulars, to check in and hear what news they might have. Many of them now meet up regularly outside of events, which is always delightful to hear. In partnership with national charity The Reader, and with individual referrals from support service Reach & Connect, we now also have a flourishing Reading Group. Through the medium of short stories and poetry, the group has experienced many an emotion together, in a space that feels safe, open and empathetic. Our group is featured in the programme of events for Loneliness Awareness Week with Haringey Circle and Public Voice, in association with Haringey Reach & Connect. 

A black woman wears a santa hat laughing at her phone at the christmas day event
Christmas Day at Jacksons Lane (2022) Photo credit: Alex Brenner

If you know someone who might need a word of encouragement to get involved, please feel free to contact [email protected] to see what event or activity might be a fit for them!

These fantastic, even life-changing events rely on the generosity of people like you. As a supporter, your £10 a month supports accessible transport for an older adult to attend our social events. Find out more here.

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