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John and June's Story


Spending Saturdays socially with All Change

"Some people would come in here and say ‘look at all this lot doing this silly stuff’. But you’ve just got to let go and enjoy it.”

In the lofty Upper Hall of the famous Islington Chapel, Islington residents John and June are taking a well earned break from an afternoon of creativity. They are here with other older residents, local artists, and the All Change team, for a Saturday Socials session. “Some people would come in here and say ‘look at all this lot doing this silly stuff’”, June says, “but you’ve just got to let go and enjoy it.”

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Though not always taking place in such grand surroundings, Saturday Socials (run alongside All Change, Cubitt Education, and North London Cares) embody what Islington Giving is all about; people coming together from different walks of life, forging friendships, and making memories. Older and younger neighbours across the borough are exploring new possibilities, pushing their boundaries, and creating new things together.

This often means trying new, unexpected things. June didn’t expect to be dancing and singing in front of an audience. “I didn’t really get into it for this. I thought it would just be writing and poetry. But I love it now”, she says.

“I didn’t really get into it for [dancing]. I thought it would just be writing and poetry. But I love it now” (June, Saturday Socials performer)

On this particular Saturday, the group is rehearsing for its upcoming show The Last Dance, a multi-arts, interactive performance celebrating dance, poetry and music. But now, having danced, curated and sung, June is very much part of the troupe. At the rehearsal, you can really see the relationships that have been built within the group, but also with other people who give in the borough. June talks about a visit to Expedia, where she met “a couple of young fellas. One from Majorca and one from Italy, my two favourite places.”

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Finishing their cups of tea, John and June are quickly back in action. John, the “king of improvisation”, breaks into song. He used to perform on stage, even at the Albert Hall once. His experience is clear to hear, and his confidence seems to bring light to the room and a lift to the other performers. Though clearly enjoying himself, John knows that, with the show coming soon, the limelight is not only his. “You don’t want me going over the top now do you?” he quips.

All Change has been working in Islington for over 30 years. Its artists and team don’t put on the Saturday Socials for local people, they design weekend activities with them. This is artistic co-production across the generations. As the performers and artists bring this Saturday rehearsal to a close, there are signs of elation, laughter, and a touch of understandable tiredness. Despite some aches and pains, John is in high spirits. “You’ve got to enjoy it haven’t you. it’s about making it down here.”

This piece was written at a rehearsal for ‘The Last Dance’, which took place in November 2018. You can see some highlights of this on the All Change website, here.

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