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All Change #KeepingConnected

All Change is a local partner that brings artists and communities together to develop arts projects which transform lives and make a difference in Islington. Suzanne Lee,  Artistic Director at All Change explains how they have been delivering a regular programme of online creative workshops during lockdown.

All Change is proud to have delivered a regular programme of online creative workshops, keeping connected with all our community groups throughout lockdown.

We discovered our participants – older people, young families, young people –  were keen to connect with others and to contribute to the wellbeing of their community. Their desire to do something to help – and not just to benefit from support, was very strong. We started by assessing each individual’s digital access, and addressed any gaps in equipment and connectivity, getting people set up with software, knowledge and skills to join in with activities from home. We sent packages of arts and writing materials to everyone we work with – to ensure they had what they needed to participate in online and to get on with their own creative projects too.

 

“Being with people I have a rapport with (on a landline for me), is a lifesaver in this time of need. Coming together with fun and jokes, seriousness, movement and creativity is almost as good as the real thing.”

Tony, aged 73 (Well Versed group)

 

“All Change online has helped me feel like I am still attending sessions, like nothing has changed.  Zoom was amazing and my son really enjoyed it, thank you for working during this time and checking in with us so regularly.”

Ana aged 22 (Inspire! young parent)

 

Lockdown provided an opportunity for our groups to create and share new work, including poetry, stories, visual arts and photography – reflecting on and articulating their experiences, responding thoughtfully to the pandemic and to significant events and campaigns that have taken place this year, including Windrush Day 2020 and Black Lives Matter.

As part of a collaboration with House of Illustration, a selection of poetry was illustrated, published on Instagram and made into a series of greetings cards.  Working with St. Luke’s Community Centre, Hilldrop Community Association, Alsen and New Park Day Centres, The Mildmays Care Home, The Arc and Manor Gardens – over 1000 cards were sent to isolated older people and families at home and in care homes, with lunch and food deliveries.

 

“How nice to hear those words…lovely to be valued …very moving … it reminds me to stay resilient”

 Various residents at The Mildmays (Care Home)

 

“Thanks, All Change, they’re just lovely (the poems and cards for older people). 

Keren Wiltshire (St. Luke’s Community Centre)

 

We recorded and published Citizens of Empire – a poem by Eula Harrison (age 95) to mark Windrush Day 2020 on 22 June. A Black Lives Mater poem by our Inspire young parents, was illustrated by 3 emerging illustrators from diverse backgrounds involved in Pathways (a programme run by House of Illustration and Pop-Up to increase diversity in children’s publishing), and published on Instagram and the All Change website.

All Change Lockdown Parcel deliveries. Photos by Lauren Matthews

 

Older people in care homes or alone at home have been in our minds throughout – especially as older people are some of those most badly affected by Covid-19.  We worked closely with staff at The Mildmays Care Home, Alsen and New Park Day Centres and St. Luke’s Community Centre to find ways to connect with and support them. Our Well-Versed company of older people created Covid Island Discs – a specially recorded playlist of songs to bring comfort and cheer, introduced with messages about what the song means to the person who chose it. It was sent on CD to the Mildmays care home residents and is available to listen to.

Our B Creative project young women took part in an online summer partnership with Today at Apple – #Speak Out, working with a host of exceptional artists to develop poetry and photography work about issues that matter to them for a showcase in partnership with the Mayor of London which was broadcast live on Instagram on 17 September 2020.

A mixed group of older people, young parents and young women took part in a special online workshop with poet Paul Lyalls and Arsenal in the Community in June to create ‘Football Needs Fans’ a poem reuniting families, fans and football – published in the Arsenal v Watford match-day programme on 26 July 2020.

 

Continue reading about inspiring stories of hope and resilience during the pandemic.