On a sunny Tuesday in June, in line with government COVID restrictions, we were able to host the first scaled-back in-person Meet Me at the Albany since March last year, and it couldn’t have come sooner.
The group, made up of local older residents, artists and volunteers, used to meet every Tuesday for 50 weeks a year for a day of creativity, connection and community. During the pandemic they have been staying in touch via remote telephone cluster calls, radio, post and doorstep visits to keep connected, and keep the creative juices flowing.
Keeping it to a small group we wondered if the day would feel like old times, like the ‘normal’ Meet Me at the Albany, but we needn’t have worried! Perhaps the last year has meant we are not used to large groups, but everybody who was there filled the room with brightness and inspiration (it helped that the sun was pouring through the windows!).
There was plenty to be getting on with: David from the Albany garden gave us tours and viewings of the frogspawn, with some big frogs coming to say hello as well, and artist Zoe Gilmour run workshops throughout the morning. She summed it up for us:
“We have to work within the current restrictions, which includes no singing indoors and maintaining social distancing, but this hasn’t stopped us from enjoying the sessions. They give us the chance to see each other, make things, share our thoughts and listen to music.
The weather has been nice so we’ve been in the garden a lot, where, as well as gardening, we can burst into song or just hang out in the sunshine.”
Going round the room everyone was feeling the same:
“I feel so good after this morning, it’s given me energy. I could walk mountains!” said Dahlia,
“It has been a year and a half, it has been a long, long time, but when I sit here amongst you it seems like only yesterday, that is the feeling I get being here with you, so all I can say is, Welcome back to the Albany!” from Joan, and
“What it means to me, it’s heaven…it has brightened me up a lot…you are all my family” – from Ted.
We are looking forward to the next few months when we will continue to welcome other members back on a rotating basis to give everyone the chance to come in, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future we can see everybody all at once!