This is my love letter to the Meet Me project at Lewisham homes. I was able to go to three sessions across two independent living schemes in Lewisham before Covid-19 kept us from gathering. Even in that short time I was able to experience the joy and boundless creativity in each session. These vignettes come from both sites, they take me back, and take you there (headphones recommended).
We move from door to door along the corridor, knocking loudly as Roxanna calls out,
“Good morning! How are you doing? Are you coming down today?”
A door opens a crack, a head peers round, hair still wet from the shower,
Sometimes we catch people locking up, notebook in hand as they are heading down already, eager to sit with friends and get going.
We finish calling at all the flats, and enter the common room, no longer empty but slowly filling with residents as they ease into the comfy chairs around the large table, chatting easily to each other, munching biscuits and grapes, getting stuck into the ever important tea.
If you had to document these sessions, what photos would you take?
Each session is a jumble of activity – creative sparks and conversations fly. There is mono print-making and stop motion, ink drops and poetry, writing and filmmaking. Inspirational films and artworks – from artists and each other – are shared. Conversations move from the whole group, to small clusters, to pairs; picking up discussions from previous weeks, updating on life, on journeys; deepening friendships.
The sessions are a dance, choreographed over weeks, dancers skipping in and out. Practitioners step into the space, residents swap partners back and forth, exchanging ideas, stories, laughter and life.
“Oh I love this song…'”
“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright” Bob Marley, 1977
“Very good, very good.”
Sharing memories through song, sharing voices together happens each week. A palpable love and respect for everyone’s life experiences is present.
With thanks to the residents at both independent living schemes who shared their lives with me, to the artists Georgia and Annie, and support workers Christine, Roxanna, Ritchie and Julie for facilitating these beautiful sessions, and to Sarah and Lucy at the Albany for allowing me to tell this story.