Tuesday in the Curve Garden

Fifty-Plus in the Curve Garden

NB (4 November 2020) — we have suspended the 50+ drop-in program at the Curve Garden. This is temporary, until the end of lockdown 2.

We now have a regular weekly meeting every Tuesday in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. This is for all older people — especially those of us who cannot stand the loss of social contact since March this year.

There is an overwhelming need for older people to get out of their homes and share their experiences with others. In the Curve Garden, we can feel safe because we are meticulous about social distancing, and we are the only people there.

That social need is greater than the demand for digital help. However. we are actively working on ways to restore at least some of our previously unbroken support for older people who have problems with their digital gadgets, or questions about using the Internet.

When and where

  • Every Tuesday, from 11 am until 1:30 pm.
  • Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF — opposite the library.
  • Map: goo.gl/maps/kHJhwJBSiVhgYnE86
  • Very close to Dalston Junction overground station. Bus stops in Dalston Lane and Kingsland Road.
Fifty-Plus people glimpsed through the Curve Garden foliage, 1 September 2020.

There is more information on page 50-plus in Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

Music story

Sue (voice, guitar) and Gifty (voice, calabash) improvise a song from Gifty’s repertoire. Also heard: Ken (guitar) and Stephen (guitar).

Then Gifty tells us why she wrote the song.

We are getting closer to the live music project concept, based on our 2012-2013 ‘Music Stories’ workshops — music as a catalyst for personal and shared memories.

Recorded 29 July 2020 in St Mary’s Secret Garden, Hackney.

Wednesday in the Secret Garden

Fifty-Plus in the Secret Garden

NB (14 October 2020) — we are changing the way we do things in the Secret Garden — partly in response to the onset of wet weather, and partly in response to the increasing COVID incidence rate locally. Temporarily, we are not in the Secret Garden on Wednesday afternoons.

The long-running sporadic podcast from St Mary’s Secret Garden has made way for this new social event that can involve far more people.

There is an overwhelming need for older people to get out of their flats, feel safe, and share the experience with others. That need is greater than the demand for digital support, but we do offer basic digital help when possible.

When and where

  • Every Wednesday afternoon, from 2 pm until 3:30 pm.
  • St Mary’s Secret Garden — on the corner of Pearson St and Appleby Rd, E2 8EL
  • Map: goo.gl/maps/dNQRq9zzKRmSH2fSA
  • It’s a short walk from Hoxton station. Nearest bus stops are in Kingsland Rd (Pearson St or St Leonard’s Hospital).
Fifty-Plus people glimpsed through the Secret Garden foliage, 2 September 2020.

There is more information on page 50-plus in St Mary’s Secret Garden

Tablets and wifi for disconnected older people

While the drop-in centres are closed, we have been moving the drop-in tablets (and some laptops) to where you live.

Typically, a DBS-checked volunteer delivers to your doorstep …

  • an Android tablet
  • a portable Wifi with a 3G data SIM card, prepaid for 2 or 3 months.

You look after the tablet until we start our drop-in meetings again.

The 3G connection is not fast, but it is reliable — and definitely adequate for email and normal web use. It is not suitable for watching films, or online meetings with video.

If you have basic Internet skills, but no connection that you can use, please contact us about this (details are on our Contact page).

At last I could be proud

Ruth looks back on her journey from apartheid South Africa.

Recorded 24 June 2020 in St Mary’s Secret Garden, Hackney.


The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota has shocked the world over. Once again a black person is brutalised by the police in America. This racist attitude of police happens in the UK as well – by the people who are meant to be there to protect us as citizens.

The anti-racist protests of young people today reminded me of the Soweto riots in South Africa in 1976, when the young people rioted against the apartheid regime for its brutal inhumane racist policies inflicted on the black population.

Lockdown through COVID-19 has given us the time to reflect. I was born and lived under the apartheid government of South Africa until I was 21. They were white supremacists that governed and segregated the population according to their colour. 50 million black people – the indigenous population – lived in shanty towns. 4 million coloureds were further segregated by ethnicity. My Indian friend at school had to be registered and accounted for annually. Indians were regarded as the merchant class, so their wealth was monitored by the government. The white and non-white population lived on opposite sides of the railway line to segregate us under the Group Areas Act. We travelled at the back of the bus, or on second and third class coaches of the trains.

I am the fifth generation of my family, born out of the slave trading that came from the east through the Dutch East India Company. My ancestry is African, Indonesian, Dutch and German

Apartheid was dehumanising and brutal. My father and grandfather’s generation suffered the most. They went out to work where they were further humiliated on a daily basis. I was lucky to come from a very supportive family.

I hated the country I came from. I was politicised at an early age thankfully by the teachers at my school. I saw that there were better places to live in, outside of South Africa. We had political activists murdered like Steve Biko, or imprisoned like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. We had the Sharpeville and Langa riots. Our next door neighbour was imprisoned on Robben Island for being politically active.

We wanted a better society to live in. I couldn’t see myself living under apartheid for the rest of my life. So the energy and sense of adventure that comes with youth, I planned to work for my flight and pocket money after getting my school education to leave the country for London.

My parents could not have afforded to send me abroad. At that time Barclays Bank started employing young coloured girls to improve their bad reputation on race relations in South Africa. So I worked there for 18 months.

I came to London and found freedom of choice. I fell in love with the city. In the UK, sport organisations were boycotting playing in South Africa.

People in the UK were persuaded to boycott wine and the Outspan oranges from South Africa. There was political and economic upheaval, and over time the racist government couldn’t afford apartheid any more, so they had to engage with the jailed political leaders.

When Nelson Mandela was released in 1990, I was living in London then. I sat at the edge of my bed and wept. I could now be proud of the place of my birth.

“History was never white. White is a metaphor for power” – James Baldwin, from the documentary film I am not your Negro.

Everybody reads a letter

Everybody replies if they can

There is no point offering a service that few people know about, and fewer can use.

We have paused most of the online events until we have made real contact with all our disconnected IT drop-in users.

We are sending out 425 information packs, each with a Stamped Addressed Envelope, for a two-way update about what is happening in all our lives.

Thank you Ashurst, for helping to make this happen.

Update 24 June 2020.

After a long delay caused by Amazon delivery issues, all the letters have been sent out.

Expecting one, but haven’t received it? Probably because we don’t know your postal address.