By Kate Samuelson, founder of CHEAPSKATE London

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week 2020 – and it feels poignant for it to be taking place during lockdown, a time when many of us may be feeling more isolated than ever. Even though lockdown rules are gently easing, the past few months have been extremely tough for many people.

Not only have we been unable to see our family and friends, but we’ve also been prevented from attending gigs, films, talks, plays, exercise classes and all the other social activities and events which give our lives variety, excitement and a sense of community.

When lockdown was announced, I pivoted the CHEAPSKATE London newsletter (my weekly newsletter which curates the city’s best free events) to focus on free, at-home events – a move which has been very positively received.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had many messages from subscribers who’ve told me how isolated they feel as a result of lockdown. They’ve explained how helpful they’ve found taking part in virtual events, which have enabled them to feel part of a wider community and less alone.

Bearing all this in mind, I wanted to draw your attention to just a handful of the fantastic events taking place this Loneliness Awareness Week. From a film screening to a live drag show, these events are not only free to join, but can be taken part in from home – sat on the sofa with a cup of tea in hand.

Monday

As well as being Loneliness Awareness Week, this week is also Refugee Week 2020. To mark it, the Kensal Rise-based Lexi Cinema (which describes itself as ‘the UK’s first social enterprise independent boutique digital cinema’) is hosting a free ‘watch-along’ featuring the award-winning Italian documentary Fire At Sea.

The film can be watched for free via the streaming service MUBI and will be followed by a discussion on the Lexi’s Facebook page. The small refugee support charity Salusbury World is co-hosting the event.

Tuesday

During lockdown, Bex and Anya of Brixton Life Drawing have been running pay-what-you-can classes over Zoom, often attracting more than 200 attendees a session. These life drawing classes are extremely accessible and inclusive; they’re designed to suit anyone from a nervous first timer to a professional artist.

The classes always involve a professional life drawing model who holds a variety of poses for different lengths of time. They start with a warm-up, then Bex and Anya take you through several exercises – including one where you use your non-dominant hand (my left-handed results were… interesting to say the least).

Fifty percent of the profits raised through donations go to a different charity each session. This Tuesday’s class is benefiting Black Thrive, which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing for Lambeth’s Black communities. Brixton Life Drawing also pay their models for their time – many of whom have been out of work as a result of the pandemic.

Wednesday

Virtual pub quizzes are the Marmite of lockdown. Some people can’t get enough of them, but others will grimace if you so much as mention the Q word. If you, like me, are part of the former camp, then we recommend you tune into a virtual quiz run by Paul Jackson (AKA PJQuizco) on Facebook this Wednesday evening.

Paul has spent the last decade hosting quizzes in pubs across London five nights a week, so he’s very much a pro (and a self-declared “quizard”). He also writes and hosts bespoke quizzes for companies, schools and, quite randomly, the Australian Rugby team.

Paul’s quizzes are good for solo players (no ‘quaranteam’ necessary) and you can either play live or watch later.

Thursday

How the UK’s night-time economy will survive the pandemic is a question concerning many Londoners. But it’s been heartening to see the creative efforts some venues have been going to in order to help secure their futures.

This Thursday, drag promotor Klub Kids is putting on a live drag show to raise money for The Grand – an iconic 120-year-old independent venue in Clapham which is facing closure.

The show will feature RuPaul’s Drag Race competitors Crystal Methyd and Baga Chipz, as well as drag queen Aaron Carty’s ‘Beyoncé Experience’, as seen on Britain’s Got Talent. There’ll be live performances, prizes, interactive games and more to look forward to.

The show is free to watch, but donations are welcome and will go towards the #savethegrand campaign.

Friday

Lockdown is a great time to learn a new skill – so why not give calligraphy a try?

On Friday evening, Surrey-based calligrapher Stacy Oakley is giving a free, hour-long ‘faux calligraphy’ workshop on Instagram Live, where all you’ll need is a felt tip pen and a piece of paper – rather than any fancy tools!

More from CHEAPSKATE London

These are just five of some of the best free events taking place during Loneliness Awareness Week. For this week’s full listing, view our latest newsletter here.

To hear about more free events (online and offline), as well as free-to-enter competitions, follow CHEAPSKATE on Instagram and subscribe to the CHEAPSKATE London newsletter. It’s free – of course!