M: What is Something for Everyone?
JA: Something for Everyone is a project which helps several existing community groups and runs others. It provides specialist university spaces at times of low demand by UCLan staff and students, as well as offering networking and performance opportunities and specialist technical support. The ethos is to provide people from within and outside of the university the opportunity to take part in music, dance, and other arts activities regardless of their experience or ability. The ongoing groups currently under the Something for Everyone banner are the Worldwise Samba Drummers, the Preston Samba Dancers, the Preston People’s Choir, Conga Roots, the Rhythm Jammin sessions, and the Preston Scratch Band.
M: How does the ethos of Something for Everyone fit with the university's wider aims?
JA: UCLan has as part of its aims the goal of maximising its positive, social, local impact. Something for Everyone brings into the university people who might otherwise find its buildings an intimidating presence within the city. It provides a chance to play instruments, to dance, to make artwork, and it does this for people who otherwise might not get the opportunity. Participants in the activities have provided testimony to the ways in which the groups have helped their mental health, social lives, and happiness.
M: What do you personally get out of working with all of these people?
JA: I love working with the broad variety of people that the groups attract. Attending the sessions helps my health and happiness as much as anyone else and it has certainly helped my social life - it was through the samba band that I met Anna who is now my wife.
M: You are staging lots of sessions and performances. Do you have a personal highlight so far?
JA: It would be easy to choose the big gigs – the samba groups parading through the streets of Liverpool, or the choir performing to an audience of hundreds at Street Choirs, but the moments that really stand out are smaller than that. Last year the samba band and dancers played on the streets of Chorley and a group of about fifty teenagers gathered. At first we were unsure of how they would react but they eventually joined in with the dancers forming a swirling mass of bodies following Anna as she led them all in the dance moves.
There have also been the quiet moments where individuals have spoken about how much the groups have brought them happiness, have helped them through difficult times, have allowed them to feel at home in a city or even a country that isn’t theirs by birth. More than performing for the crowds, it is for the people who take part that I choose to put my time and energy into the Something for Everyone project.