Portsmouth residents take to their road to enjoy 'social distancing' exercise and bingo

A ROAD in Portsmouth is showing how a community comes together despite social distancing – with a street-wide exercise session and game of bingo.

By Richard Lemmer
Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 5:39 pm

Bringing the Burleigh Road community together has been the idea of Marcus Tisson, a teaching assistant at The Harbour School in Tipner, who has hosted the event for the last two Sundays.

This weekend saw more than 40 residents come out on their doorstep to enjoy an exercise session to the music of Psy’s Gangnam Style and Three Little Birds by Bob Marley before a street-wide bingo game – all while sticking to social distancing rules.

Marcus, who moved from East London to the area three months ago, said he wanted to bring the ‘energy’ of his former home to the community

The residents have enjoyed street exercise and a game of bingo - while keeping to social distancing rules.

The 40-year-old said: ‘I come from Bow, in East London. I was born and bred in London and when it comes to hard times people come together.

‘People too often think of crime when they look at London, but there’s a huge community spirit.

‘I wanted to bring that energy to this part of the world - bring my cockney banter down here.

‘People have said they have lived in the street for five years and still don’t know their neighbours.

Burleigh Road, Fratton.

The weekly event has become a highlight for the Page family, with Marcus leading the street in a rendition of Happy Birthday to celebrate Cleo Page turning 11.

Mum Shelley said: ‘She was hiding under her cap, but she had a massive smile on her face.

‘It’s amazing – we have looked forward to it all week.

‘We have really come together as a community. This has brought out the best in us.’

Another resident, Pippa Walkley, agreed, saying: ‘I hope this continues after we go back to normal.’

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As well as bringing the community together, Marcus runs a mental health support campaign called Don’t Suffer In Silence, which has seen an increase in people looking for help since the national lockdown was introduced.

The campaigner said: ‘I have been getting lots of messages on my Instagram account, people saying they want to end their life.

‘There are a lot of people out there struggling. I've been trying to put upbeat stuff out there for people to enjoy – I broadcast karaoke in the kitchen the other day.’

And the upbeat newcomer to the city has no intention to stop the social distancing street parties.

Looking forward to awarding the next bingo game, he said: ‘We already have a bottle of wine donated for the next winner.’

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