In Tower Hamlets 1 in 4 younger people and 1 in 2 older people live in income deprivation. This impacts their lives in many ways including increasing feelings of loneliness. High property prices force younger generations to move away and different age groups and communities can find themselves living parallel lives, rarely interacting. Our new programme Arts & Ages will bring these groups together creating stronger relationships and stronger communities.
This exciting new 3 year programme began in Autumn 2018. It will connect 8 primary schools in Tower Hamlets with their local care home, community centre, or sheltered housing scheme for older people, to build a sustainable relationship through creative activities. Over 3 years, schools and community partners will grow sustainable relationships through collaborating on arts projects, so that they can continue to work together in the future benefiting both older adults and pupils, staff and teachers, and the wider community.
How it works
In Years 1 and 2, we will deliver a high quality arts project over 1 term, involving a whole class and local older people working together to create a performance, exhibition or celebration. Each project will be led by professional artists with experience in bringing generations together. Themes for these projects will be chosen and led by the group, and activities chosen to support relationship building and communication between the generations.
Between projects, the school and older people partner will commit to a group of older and young people meeting up once a term, to ensure the relationship continues to grow and flourish. Magic Me will provide staff training and resources as needed to help partners stay connected.
In year 3, the school and older people partner will run their own intergenerational activity led by ideas that have come from older and younger people in Years 1 and 2 of the project. Magic Me artists and staff will support this activity, and will help them to find a way for this to continue beyond year 3 of the project. Examples of this activity might be setting up an intergenerational choir, or a termly creative assembly where older people take part alongside younger people.
Our key aims for Arts & Ages are:
To support younger & older people to become active in their community, building skills and confidence.
To reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness among older people, increasing wellbeing.
To build long lasting relationships between schools and older people’s venues.
For the school children and schools involved, Arts & Ages will:
- Help schools to connect with their local communities, particularly older people who may have no reason to be involved with the life of the school.
- Support the young people to build positive relationships with older people within their community
- Build young people’s communication skills and challenge age-related stereotypes or misconceptions, through creative activities.
- Give young people opportunities to perform or present their creative work and ideas to their local community, building their confidence and self esteem.
Pupil’s asked to sum up in one word how they felt about a Magic Me project in care home:
“Amazing – I got to see how the old people act”
“New – I don’t do stuff with older people and I’ve never done it before”
For the care homes, community centres, sheltered housing schemes, and the older people Arts & Ages will:
- Provide an opportunity to make stronger links the local community, particularly the specific school involved in the project.
- Give older people an opportunity to talk with a younger generation and help to challenge ageist attitudes and other misconceptions, through creative activities
- Help combat loneliness, and give an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, generally enhancing wellbeing, through being an active participant in their community.
- Give the older people a chance to perform or present their creative work to their local community, sharing their talents and ideas.
I’ve seen the difference in them. In the beginning, they were worried about joining in. I have seen a difference. They (the residents) are joining in.
Activities Co-ordinator, Care Home
Are you a primary school in Tower Hamlets who wants to find deeper connections with your local community through the arts? Contact Catherine Connell to find out more about Arts & Ages.
Magic Me receives no central government funding or long term funds from the Arts Council – we are therefore reliant and extremely grateful to all our funders. Current funders for our Arts & Ages programme are:
Lucas Tooth Trust
The Big Give Foundation
The Haberdashers’ Benevolent Foundation
The Worshipful Company of Mercers
The Ironmongers’ Foundation
LB Tower Hamlets MSG Health and Wellbeing
Aldgate & Allhallows Foundation
Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery