Throughout lockdown, neighbours in a leafy residential square in Kennington have been staying sane by doing communal aerobics classes. Led by certified lockdown legend Simon Garner, the On Your Step classes have been getting neighbours out on their doorsteps – all, helpfully, two metres apart – to move to routines using homemade ‘equipment’ like umbrellas and sweeping brushes.
Now in a Colonel Tom-esque move, Simon is hoping to put the exercise to good use and raise some money for local charities. On Saturday May 23, the whole square will take part in a 12-hour On the Step-athon to raise £5,000 for three London charities: Vauxhall City Farm, the Trussell Trust and Centrepoint.
From 10am to 10pm all 30 houses will take part in 30-minute routines from their doorsteps with Simon leading the classes for the full 12 hours. ‘I’ll be moving clockwise around the square to each house and whoever lives there will come out and do their respective half hour,’ said Simon. ‘We’ll move around the square like a Mexican wave. We’re all at different fitness levels and ages so we’ll each do our bit.’
Throughout the day there will also be silent discos, and Vauxhall City Farm will bring its alpacas, llamas and Shetland ponies to do loops around the neighbourhood, too. The farm has also donated alpaca wool, which some of the square’s ardent knitters have turned into leg warmers for exercisers to wear.
‘We didn’t all know each other in our square,’ said Simon, ‘but through this we’ve unearthed a great group of caring and creative people. We have the head of percussion from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the square, we’ve got a DJ and an amazing guitarist. All those people will be coming out and doing sets during the day too.’ You can even donate a song for the group to do a step routine to.
‘We’re a tight little community, so I asked everyone what local charities we wanted to support,’ Simon said. ‘We picked Vauxhall City Farm because it’s a community-centric place with a great heritage in the area that’s struggling at the moment. We picked the Trussell Trust and Centrepoint so we can help people who are feeling really vulnerable right now.
‘I believe that in crazy times kindness matters. Through On Your Step I’ve developed a new sense of belonging. Now we want to use it to help other people.’
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