This article is created in partnership with Our City Together.
Those of you chomping at the bit for a tasty slice of London culture probably feel pretty frustrated right now. Your living room doesn’t quite match up to the historic heights St Paul’s Cathedral, after all. But while a return to normality isn’t on the cards just yet, some of London’s biggest and best-loved cultural powerhouses are joining forces to help transport you to a happier place.
Get your London culture fix and share the joy
Our City Together is a brand new project, starting Monday 18 May, which sees institutions across the City of London collaborate to bring you online showcases brimming with music, art, film, history, photography and archive collections. We’re talking Barbican podcasts with Stephen Fry, historical tidbits with the Museum of London, quizzes courtesy of Guildhall Art Gallery and virtual panel discussions on the relationship between culture and mental health.
All events have been carefully selected to inspire, celebrate and support your wellbeing at home, with greats like Bishopsgate Institute, Keats House, London Metropolitan Archives, St Paul’s Cathedral and London Symphony Orchestra also taking part. There’s masses going on (seriously, your empty diary isn’t going to know what’s hit it) so make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and check out the website where the full line-up of events will be revealed as the weeks continue.
Art, heritage and kindness combine
Every week or two a new theme leads the programme. First up? The entire shebang kicks off with Kindness, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. It couldn’t come at a better time. Although a joyful dose of creativity and culture is most certainly on the cards (gosh, fun, remember that?!), Our City Together is about more than just entertainment. It’s about reigniting a sense of community and bringing people together during a challenging time.
And what better way to reaffirm our shared connections than by reaching out to each other with acts of kindness? It's a simple idea with a powerful impact, which is why Mental Health Awareness Week asks us to take time out this week to focus on remembering, celebrating and carrying out acts of compassion.
Reflect on a kindness you've been shown in the past, and be inspired to carry out a kind act of your own. If you have permission, do take a photo or video and share your story online to inspire others — using the hashtags #KindnessMatters, #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and #OurCityTogether.
A small pocket of compassion: Postman's Park
And for a reminder of the power of a kind act, there's no shortage of that embedded in the City of London's history — if you know where to look. Take the ultimate hidden gem, Postman’s Park, for example. A leafy hideout right slap bang in the City, Postman’s Park is home to the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 to commemorate heroic Londoners who lost their lives while attempting to save others.
The memorial is a beautiful piece of art, long rows of glazed Doulton tablets proudly display the details of each selfless act. Yet while you may admire the wall from afar on your lunch break (many do so), it’s the details that stay with you. Young Alice Ayres, the nursemaid who rescued three children from a burning house. Stewardess Mary Rogers, who perished after giving up her lifebelt to save others during the sinking of the SS Stella. Joseph Andrew Ford, the London fireman who saved six lives before succumbing to his injuries during a fire on Gray’s Inn Road.
Culture, continuing to bring Londoners together
While the times we find ourselves in now are unusual, Our City Together provides a welcome window for us to look to the past to help us frame our present. Truly, who else has almost 2,000 years of glorious Londony content to share? As each museum, gallery, landmark and organisation in the City of London reaches deep into its cultural pockets to draw out virtual events that continue to spark curiosity and joy today, we’re invited to remember, reminisce, commemorate and celebrate kindness. Now, for Mental Health Awareness Week, just as we have done throughout the years.
Our City Together launches online from Monday 18 May and continues throughout summer 2020, with themes including Kindness, Resilience, Architecture and Gender, plus more to be announced. Subscribe to the newsletter and visit the Our City Together website to browse all the activities, resources and online events available to you. You can also follow the project online via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #OurCityTogether.