Meet Leah, a member of Age UK Islington

art links islington music

art:links is Create’s national creative arts programme connecting and upskilling vulnerable older people. During September and October 2021, members of Age UK Islington took part in music workshops with our professional musicians Holly Khan and Kate Smith. We spoke to Leah about her experience on the project.

“I’ve been going through a really difficult time. I’ve just moved house and I’m a family carer, so I have some of that responsibility. My life is really quite lonely. It’s been really good to get out and meet people again. Where I was living before, I couldn’t get Zoom and I often couldn’t get phone calls. It makes you feel really isolated. So it’s been lovely to come back out and do something.

“As a group, we created a poem, which we then scored. We created the poem as part of a free-writing exercise: we went into the park, collected natural objects, wrote about them, and then used that as a basis for the song. It was absolutely brilliant, I was so proud when I saw it last week. I’ve also created some stories, and I started to create a poem as well.

Click play to hear the first poem set to music, created by the participants

“It was like missing a limb”

“I’ve enjoyed singing, I’ve enjoyed the writing exercises, I’ve enjoyed seeing our work come together in songs. And it’s made me realise how much I missed the musicianship I’ve been part of before, which I haven’t done for a while.

“I’ve learnt that, with music, you don’t lose it. I think that’s been really important. I’m 56 and the last time I did something particularly musical I was in my late 20s, maybe early 30s, when I was in a community choir. And then I just got busy with work because I was travelling, and I had to drop it. And that was it.

“It was like missing a limb, but I didn’t actually understand that until I came back and started doing something again. I’m not letting it go again. I will have to find ways, but music is going to be a part of my life in an active way, not just listening to the radio or going to concerts, I actually want to be involved in making music.

Click to hear the second poem

“Holly and Kate were so well tuned as to how to get the best out of people. I’ve loved having them as leaders. I think they’re really good, I’ve learnt some new skills. It has been a lovely experience.

“I’ve enjoyed singing, I’ve enjoyed the writing exercises, I’ve enjoyed seeing our work come together in songs.”

Leah

“Although I write and I think of myself as a writer, I didn’t understand that I see the world through stories. I hadn’t realised that it’s almost a building block of how I see the world. I now understand that I’m a writer because it’s a function of vision. People who paint see images, and I see stories and I always have, and I hadn’t actually connected that that’s the way things are. But I do now, so I’ve been much, much happier.

“Yesterday I went and got all my writing practice books because I will be starting again, and one day of the weekend is going to be for my writing. I’ve got a series of books that I’ve been working on, and I’m on the third one and I haven’t done any work on it in about eight months. I’m ready. One day a week is enough even if it’s just a few hours, to get back into the routine. I’m looking forward to that.”

Click to hear the third poem

art:links is funded by The Mercers’ Company and Masonic Charitable Foundation.