As Link Age Southwark celebrates 30 years of alleviating loneliness for local older people and those living with a dementia diagnosis, a special photographic exhibition showcasing the breadth of their work will be launched on 15 July at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, as part of the charity’s annual Sunset Soiree fundraising event. Award-winning international photographer Nick Dolding, who took the pictures, lives in Camberwell. He is also a Link Age Southwark volunteer befriender.
“My day job is as an advertising photographer, working on international campaigns with big teams of people who help make things happen. Today, I’m doing stills photographs as part of a massive advertising shoot on Columbia Road; it’s costing tens of thousands of pounds. By contrast, working on Link Age Southwark’s 30th-anniversary project stripped everything back – just me, a camera, and people to photograph.
I’d been thinking about volunteering for a while, and after some research last year Link Age Southwark seemed a good fit. It serves my local area, and the issues surrounding old age and loneliness, and dementia are very pertinent to me because both my parents were diagnosed with dementia. Sadly, my Mum is no longer with us, but that just spurred me on to sign up as a Link Age Southwark befriender.
Once a week, I visit a lovely man in Peckham. He came to England from Trinidad as part of the post-Windrush generation. He has a dementia diagnosis. He’s very well-read – we chat about politics, and he’s also really keen on photography. He’s got loads of old cameras which he’d been talking to me about – one day his daughter got them out and we found some still had film in them. I got really excited, thinking they’d be pictures he’d taken, but it turned out he’d picked the cameras up at flea markets – so we have no idea who the people in the photos are! I have taken his portrait for the exhibition and he’s happy with it: I love seeing him laugh and smile.
Compiling the 30 photographs for this exhibition — of older people Link Age Southwark works with, its volunteers, staff, and supporters — has given me a great insight into their work and the huge benefits that it gives to so many people and the community as a whole. Over the past year, it has supported over 800 local residents, and demand for its services is growing.
I’ve photographed domino and scrabble sessions, seated dance and yoga groups, and Christmas and anniversary parties. I’ve done portraits of founders and befrienders, volunteers, and many happy service users. I even photographed the egg and spoon race for Link Age Southwark’s annual volunteers’ get-together on Peckham Rye.
I hope people will come to the Sunset Soiree to support Link Age Southwark and enjoy the photos.”
Link Age Southwark Sunset Soiree, 15 July, Dulwich Picture Gallery. Photographic exhibition, live music, cocktails, and canapés, with all proceeds supporting Link Age Southwark’s work. Tickets: www.linkagesouthwark.org/Event/sunset-soire-2023