East London Cares opened its doors in October 2019. Since then, we've run 219 Social Clubs, ranging from climate change workshops to drag queen make-up tutorials. In March 2020, when the pandemic struck, we paused our face to face activities and brought neighbours together remotely, through Virtual Social Clubs on Zoom. Despite completely reinventing our programmes just 6 months into operation, we’re so proud to have built a strong community through our Social Clubs, with 126 older neighbours and 144 younger neighbours having attended a combined 2,006 times to date!
We're looking for someone to join our team as our new Social Clubs Coordinator. You can read the full job description and apply here, but read on to get a flavour of our community has achieved so far.
East London is brimming with talent, knowledge and skills, through a vast array of cultures, artists, community spaces and small businesses. We love to give older and younger neighbours a flavour of what Hackney and Tower Hamlets have to offer, with one-off experiences and workshops.
Before the pandemic, neighbours enjoyed a tour of Hackney Empire theatre, a sourdough making workshop in Bethnal Green and a Karate Class in Clapton. Our Virtual Social Clubs offered chances to try new things from home, with a series of workshops made in collaboration with St Margaret's House on stand up comedy, dance, illustration and more. After attending our virtual contemporary dance club, Jean (69) said “it was so much fun, and so uplifting!”.
Social Clubs are also an opportunity to meet new people and share conversation, laughter and friendship. Some of our clubs are regular fixtures, like our wellbeing hour, focussing on meditation and mindfulness, and our monthly virtual disco, providing a chance to let loose, dance and have fun in lockdown.
Clubs like this have provided structure and connection at this particularly isolating and anxious time. Many neighbours come to our clubs again and again, with our top three social club attendees having been to 68, 96 and 106 clubs respectively! One of our younger neighbours, Susan, described our clubs as “the absolute highlight of my week”.
And it’s not just Susan. According to an independent evaluation of our model, 86% of older neighbours who regularly participated in our programmes said they feel more able to appreciate the world, and 81% said they feel more connected to their community.
As well as enjoying clubs from exciting facilitators like Hackney Museum and The Old Vic, we love to encourage older and younger neighbours in our community to run clubs about the things they’re passionate about. In February, Laurie (71) shared a film he’d been part of about the history of the east end, and led a discussion full of fascinating memories. And later that month, younger neighbour Anna showed us her brilliantly bizarre lockdown project - banana bruising art!
Social Clubs are all about bringing people together, across generational, cultural and digital divides, to try new things and feel more connected to our amazing neighbourhoods and each other. Gill (70), who has attended over 100 Social Clubs, put it best when she said, “You meet all these different, vibrant, clever new people. It’s that feeling of belonging, of being part of the community.”
We're looking for someone with creativity, leadership and positivity to oversee our Social Clubs programme at an exciting moment of potential. The deadline for applications for the role of Social Clubs Coordinator is Tuesday 27th April 2021, at 9am. Read the full job description and apply here.
Posted by Rob Paterson on Wednesday 21st April 2021
Development Coordinator for East London Cares.