30th September 2016
Since becoming part of the Youth United Network, Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade’s encouragement for youth participation in volunteering and youth-led social action has inspired many young people to become engaged in their communities.
This trend is particularly noticeable in JLGB’s Redbridge Band. Funded by UYSAF, the Band has increased its capacity to now include 30 young people, aged 10 to 17. Alongside dedicated adult volunteers, the Band rehearses year round for a variety of events.
Being one of the four JLGB Music Centres in the country comes with great responsibility. Perhaps the most important event in the Band’s calendar is the annual parade organised by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, of which JLGB has been very supportive. In 2015, the Band performed alongside a professional RAF Band in honour of Jewish war veterans marching along the parade route lined by hundreds. Ricky Kaplan, JLGB Core Activities Manager, said that for many veterans, the Band is the reason they continue to turn out, whatever the weather on the day of the Parade. The entire community loves to see the Band perform at the Horseguards’ parade and along the route towards the Cenotaph.
Likewise, the members of the Band take pride in remembering their ancestors; one member of the band said: “Being able to play in the band in community events such as the AJEX Parade is great because it means I can contribute to ensure that those who sacrificed their lives for our safety are never forgotten and it is a lovely way to unite the Jewish community from all over the country”.
For many, the AJEX parade is the proudest day of their JLGB year. They said “Even when the weather conditions are awful and we are cold and wet we appreciate what conditions must have been like for those who fought for our freedom. We must never complain. Being part of the Band on this day fills us with lots of pride.”
So that the Parade is a complete success, the Band increases its rehearsals in order to fine tune sounds and practice being a marching band. What is also important not to forget is the tireless hours of menial photocopying, laminating and hole-punching of music that are given to create the resources in order to be able to perform at events such as remembrance parades.
Preceding the parade, the Band discover and learn about the servicemen and women they are commemorating. For example, last year, the theme was Jews in World War One. The group used online tools to uncover hidden stories and made poppies out of origami.
Putting those great music skills to use, the Band also performed at the St John Ambulance East Ham cadet presentation evening in February 2016. This not only shows the diversity of events the Band can cover, but also a great example of team spirit and collaboration between Youth United Network members.
In order to ensure its members gain a range of skill sets, the group also runs a full programme of development activities to strengthen team work and confidence. Outside Band rehearsals and one-on-one tuition, seniors have been on Summer, Winter and Band camps, participated in team building sessions, and travelled to Fairlop Waters to test their map reading skills on an orienteering course. They often organise friendly games of football or handball and have taken part in karate sessions. What is more, the Band members recently learned some very useful circus skills.