Keeping the Ball in the Air

Posted by theministry on 2nd September 2021

This spring, footballer and retired Social Worker Joe Gregory kept a ball in the air with keepie uppies all the way from Berkshire to Hoxton raising money for the Ministry of Stories along the way.  We speak to Joe about his experience:


How did the idea for the fundraiser come about?


It was Parkinson’s Awareness Week, and I had learned last year that Dr. James Parkinson was born in Hoxton Square and practised there throughout his life. He was born on 11th April, World Parkinson’s Day, which is ironically the date I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two years ago.

Hoxton also means a lot to me as my family are from Hoxton and I proudly started my social work career in the area, working at what was the Hackney Council South-West area office in Drysdale Street.

I play football –  my Dad was a professional footballer with West Ham United, and later Scunthorpe United and Aldershot. A thought came into my head though to do this ‘keepie uppie walk’ from my home in Berkshire to Hoxton during Parkinson’s Awareness Week for all the reasons above.

I couldn’t resist such a thought (and the harder it is, the less I can resist). The thought that a football sort of took my family away from Hoxton, then added to me thinking that a football could bring at least me back again too.

All these links meant I just could not turn down doing the walk to Hoxton, and in that week particularly.


How was the experience?


I did the walk over four days, and it was indeed a surreal, great experience that will keep me happy for sometime.

As part of the fundraiser I started to make videos, which is something I have really enjoyed. I have lots of ideas and stories to tell, but could spend a week writing a first paragraph. I feel like video has been a great way to tell my story, it was all about finding the right medium. I really like that the Ministry offers this to their young people, they can write songs, make films or it’s not just about writing stories.


Why did you decide to, among others, raise money for the Ministry of Stories?


As well as the fundraising aspect it was a personal journey for me. I then sought to identify Hoxton community groups, who gave back to the area. I discovered the Ministry of Stories and after initially feeling good about yourselves, I then also sought a Hoxton friend’s confirmation. She was very, very positive about me choosing you, telling me ‘they are your people’. I like that you help young people in the area tell their story. It’s a really important thing to be able to do.


Joe has so far raised over £500 for Cure Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s UK and a range of Hoxton charities including Ivy Street Family Centre and Shoreditch Trust.




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