Trustee and supporter, Lawrence Becko, explains why he gives regularly to Bloco Friends & Family, and meets other supporters, parents and ‘family members’ who have all been inspired to join the friends scheme too. You can sign up today by clicking here.

In 2012, I found myself on the Southbank in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, waiting to see a group I had heard so much about but completely unaware of quite how much they were about to blow me away and change my life all at the same time. Enter Kinetika Bloco, performing ‘London Sweet’, a set of songs to celebrate the arrival of the Olympics in our capital that year. I was totally entranced by the amazing energy and costumes, the dedication on everyone’s faces and the epic, joyful waves of sound that engulfed us all.

Almost a decade later, I’m honoured to be serving as a Board Member and to be a regular donor to this amazing operation and surrogate family that has transformed the lives of so many young people in south London over the last 20 years.

Being a friend and volunteer over a longer period of time means that I have been able to get stuck in with fundraising, help out on the leadership programme and, of course, watch amazing performances everywhere from the main space of the Roundhouse to the streets of New Orleans. But of course, the biggest gift of all is seeing so many young musicians and dancers grow and flourish creatively, expressing themselves, overcoming life’s challenges and becoming the people they want to be. The feeling is priceless. All this takes a lot of work, a tonne of organisation and lot of love and commitment from the team at Kinetika Bloco, and none of this would be possible without regular donations to the charity.

We now find ourselves in the grip of a global health crisis, socially isolated from our friends and families, and – once again – Kinetika Bloco have stepped up to extend a (virtual) hand, bringing everyone together online, lifting up those in need and keeping young people’s spirits high at such a difficult time.

Giving regularly through the #BFF Bloco Friends and Family scheme means I can contribute consistently to this amazing enterprise and ensure that young Londoners continue to be engaged in positive activities, and inspired to follow their creative dreams and passions, whatever the conditions. At £25 per month, it’s affordable to me and makes a difference over the longer-term as the monthly donations add up over time. The great news is that I’m not alone.


Meet the family

Helen is another regular supporter and honorary Bloco ‘Auntie’. After being invited to a Bloco rehearsal in 2005, she was taken aback by the talent of the young musicians and dancers and has stayed in touch ever since. “I love music and I think it is really important to make all music relevant to young people, particularly when it is so difficult to access through school these days,” she explains. “I found out about the #BFF scheme whilst I was helping serve drinks and cake at the Bloco Christmas party. I get such joy from the music they play and I had the capacity in my finances to support them…so really, there was no reason not to give!”

Barrie is another regular supporter who found out about Bloco through Bloco Programme Manager and samba superstar, Shayanna. “It is such a worthy cause helping younger people to gain a purpose to go on the right path and do something fun and creative,” he explains. “Bloco make music fun and relevant and accessible,” adds Helen. “They really encourage leadership too, the performers I watch when I first saw them are now the ones teaching and leading the next generation.”


Stepping up in lockdown

In the current conditions, the need to support young people has become even more pressing. During lockdown, Bloco have seen a surge in demand for regular activities and meet-ups online to combat the isolation, boredom and mental health risks young people are facing.  Bloco parent, Mel, signed up to be a regular giver and wants to support Bloco’s response to the crisis: “My son has been a participant since 2012,” she explains. “I always felt the Summer School was good value for money, and have always been happy to contribute in other ways such as buying tickets. But during the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been really impressed with the amount of effort Bloco are putting into sustaining their work with the young people, whether it’s musical tuition or keeping in touch with them to check on their emotional and mental wellbeing. My son currently enjoys five Zoom sessions a week with Bloco, including two music lessons from steel pan experts.  While this is free for him, I know there is a very real cost involved in putting on these sessions and I wanted to do my bit to ensure they could continue as long as possible.” 

Family fortunes

Whether, like Mel, you’ve felt compelled to give because of recent events, or like Helen, you want to make a long-lasting difference to the lives of creative young people, the Bloco Friends & Family scheme provides a way for supporters to help and contribute. What is it like to be part of the family?

“I absolutely love being a Bloco Auntie”, says Helen. “For those of us who aren’t performers – the parents and supporters – there is such community spirit amongst us. We’re always the loudest fans at every gig!” Mel reflects: “I have a sense of belonging and being valued as part of Bloco. My favourite thing is when you are at an event or festival and Bloco start playing. People move towards the music to see what’s going on… they start dancing and clapping.  You can see the enjoyment on their faces. I have been told so many times that the Bloco has been the highlight of people’s day. I am so proud to think my son is part of that.”


Join the family

So, what would our supporters say to someone thinking of giving regularly? “To anyone thinking of giving regularly to Bloco, I would say it’s not just a financial gift, it’s a way of ensuring that generations of young people who wouldn’t normally get access to music and musical careers, get those opportunities, in a way they never would through school,”says Helen. “Plus you will get a whole bunch of friends and a community that enjoys listening to talented young musicians and who know how to party!”

For Mel, whose son has taken part for almost 10 years, it’s a way to contribute to sustaining the charity and its work in the future. “There are lots of calls for us to donate to worthy causes and it can be hard to choose where to spend our money,” suggests Mel. “Bloco offer amazing musical opportunities to young people from our local community, but much more than that, they are developing and shaping young lives in positive ways. I know how hard they work at fundraising, but having a regular, guaranteed stream of income would allow them to plan future projects and events to benefit more and more young people.”

As supporters of Bloco, we are always excited to welcome new friends and family members. Please consider lending your support through a regular donation. It’s really easy to sign up online and start contributing today. A donation of £25 per month enables Bloco to deliver engaging group rehearsals or pays for a young musician to join the leadership programme. As Barrie says: “Check out Bloco’s activities and what a worthwhile cause it is, and you’ll see that it’s well worth your regular backing.”

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