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'This keeps me young': celebrating Desert Island Discs

Please note: this post is 17 months old and The Cares Family is no longer operational. This post is shared for information only

Back in November we celebrated Manchester Cares’ 5th birthday, and this month marks five years since our first ever Desert Island Discs. We wanted to celebrate everything that makes Desert Island Discs special to our community and to our Social Club Co-ordinator Heather. Who doesn’t love to boogie on down at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday?!


At January’s Desert Island Discs, the 67th Desert Island Discs night hosted by Manchester Cares, Joyce (90) said ‘this keeps me young, you know.’ This was Joyce’s 23rd time attending and she said ‘I come along because I just love to dance, and the company is absolutely excellent!’  

The Desert Island Discs social club first started at our sister charity South London Cares and was inspired by the radio show of its namesake. For those who do not know the show, each week on BBC Radio 4, a guest shares the 8 songs that have soundtracked their lives. We have our own take on the format. Inspired by a monthly theme neighbours pick a song that is meaningful to them, sharing an introduction with the group or telling a story about its significance to their life. 


Over the course of the evening, people chat and share stories and there are always a good few who take to the dancefloor. Since I started in this role in 2019, I've heard stories about everything from first loves to long journeys with your best pals, from memories of a lost family member to gigs as a teenager, and even memories of a bar brawl on one occasion. It’s a beautiful space for sharing and bonding over a love of music.

Across the last few months- I've been chatting to our wonderful older and younger neighbours about what they enjoy so much about the club. 


Carrie (32) has been coming to Desert Island Discs since November 2021 and she said ‘Desert Island Discs brings me so much joy! From listening to why neighbours have chosen a particular track, to catching up about each other's week, and of course, having a little boogie on the dancefloor - it doesn't matter what my day has been like, I always leave feeling so much lighter.’ Carrie mentioned that one of her favourite Desert Island Discs themes was ‘songs you hate’... ‘for nearly every track someone introduced as one they hated, someone else shouted out 'oh I love this song!' - an evening where I didn't stop smiling from start to finish.’ 


The ‘songs you hate’ theme was chosen by Manchester Cares and Desert Island Discs' veteran attendee Charles (71). Charles has attended 42 Desert Island Discs’ clubs since February 2018. He said he comes along because 'I love music and chatting to all the people that come along’ and ‘[I] like to play songs that I like that I really, really like.’ He knew that the ‘songs you hate’ would be a great theme as for every song someone hated, someone else would love it and it would spark conversations and debates. 

Loads of our older and younger neighbours wanted to share what they loved about the club. Aneeka (22) said ‘I love the variety of song choices...and it’s just a great environment to socialise in.’ Trish (31) shared, ‘for me DID is so much more than a playlist - it’s all about storytelling and learning from others. Different themes and genres not only make you get up and dance, but also help you to explore peoples interests, backgrounds and heritage in a fun and supportive environment!’ Norman (72) said simply 'I love everything about Desert Island Discs.'


Younger Neighbour Sarah (25) enjoys her monthly boogie so much that she put her thoughts down in the form of a poem:

Manchester cares run a session each month,
Where we all come and tear up the dancefloor. 
When we all get together we’re a rhythmic bunch,
And there’s always a smile waiting at the door.

We share our choices, happy, sad and cool,
Then get up and boogie, cut loose like fools!
It is so lovely to share songs that mean a lot,
And occasionally showcase special moves, like the robot. 

Thank you Manchester Cares for using music to bring us together,
I hope we can continue to boogie on down forever.