Submitted by: Staff Writer
Up Your Street is an award-winning free online service for seniors around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park including the borough of Waltham Forest to share information on events and activities.
By subscribing to a weekly or ten day listing email, Up Your Street highlights free events and activities organised by themselves or others.
Over the last four years subscribers have completed courses and workshops in film-making, predegree art at Birkbeck University, healthy eating, reminiscence projects, printing, theatre studies, digital photography and so much more.
Along the way, many have become volunteers, walkers or stage actors.
In 2014 Up Your Street was recognised as a community group, giving subscribers free entry to major art exhibitions and museums.
Gillian Lawrence, founder of Up Your Street, checks out what’s on in The Mill in Walthamstow, accesses The Centre For Better Health and St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, sees what fashion shows are going on in Leyton Village or what upcycling classes are on at The Rabbit Hole in Maryland.
New projects and pop-ups spring up every week and through encouragement, seniors increasingly surf the internet to find them.
“Through active participation in the community, people find new confidence levels. Subscribers are encouraged to share their knowledge and passion,” Gillian explains.
“Some activities are just delightful treats,” says one subscriber.
Cheeky Handmades of Walthamstow showed a group how to draw with a sewing machine and Leyton Technical welcomed a big party of Up Your Streeters to a delicious hearty Christmas lunch – no wallets or purses required.
Leyton song-writer Neech asked High Street Seniors (a walking group of Up Your Street) to cater for the musicians at her festival MUSEfest.
“There was a great sense of generations working together and all the Caribbean sandwiches were a big hit,” says one participant.
A visit to the Black Culture Museum in Brixton gave Up Your Streeters a great opportunity to link in with Waltham Forest’s Local History Group and Ladders based at the George Mitchell School.
Up Your Street founder Gillian says, “It must never be forgotten that seniors have a lifetime of experience and knowledge in their backgrounds and those advantages are on tap.”
When a group learnt how to recycle plastic by crocheting it into fashionable handbags out came the Seniors say activities are up their street nimble fingers of seventy-year-old women and men.
At Artillery creative writing events in Waltham Forest, Up Your Street had poets nestling under their banner. Those who embroidered chair backs in the 1950s brought their design flairs to tile-making taster workshops in Hackney and exunionised workers told tales at oral history workshops about days in Lipton tea factories and of taking the Woolwich Ferry into Silvertown.
What gets in the way? Aching hips and thighs can slow a senior down but a positive attitude to life sees them through.
Mary Fahey, radio presenter in Waltham Forest inspires seniors with her mantra, “Lifting yourself up to good living”.
That’s what Up Your Street aspires to – by sharing and living to the full.
Lately Gillian, Leyton resident for 38 years, has encouraged participants to review outings in the blog.
“Reflecting helps to internalise our experiences so that we remember them as shared ones and it makes us seniors more visible,” she says.