Magic Me is a leader in the field of intergenerational arts and we have particular expertise in working with people in care homes living with dementia and other age-related impairments.
The artists that we work with are able to deliver projects that are inclusive and achievable for everyone involved in the group.
The young people develop a better understanding of what ‘being old’ really means and are often surprised by the liveliness and imagination of the older people they are working with. They also develop new social skills, confidence and a sense of being part of something that matters. For many it also gives an opportunity to work with artists in a one-to-one way over a number of weeks and for some this can be a turning point in their lives:
Helena first got involved with Magic Me when she was at school in Tower Hamlets 20 years ago. She was 11 years old when she took part in a project called ‘A Stitch in Time’ where the group made an animated film from stories told to them by older people living in Silk Court care home. She says of it:
“I don’t remember very much about what the film was about – I do remember running around Tower Hamlets and being in a phone booth wearing a silly hat! I think I was quite anxious at the time, and was aware that this, the care home, was an unfamiliar and unknown space. Looking back as a facilitator myself now, I am aware that the artists working with us were very effective in making the space feel comfortable and a climate for creating. The making of something gives you a lightness of being.
At the end of the project we were given a VHS of the animation and I recall feeling that our creation was something of quality, something valued.
Helena now works for London Bubble on the Creative Elders Programme (you can read about her work there here). https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/318/case-study/origins-and-ripples
“… I’m sure the intergenerational projects I did with Magic Me were significant in taking me to the work I do now. The project I facilitate involves delivering theatre based workshops in sheltered housing units in Southwark. These might lead towards creating performance where there is interest from the group, or other creative products and forms.
I do think when you are at that formative stage of adolescence, as I was at when I participated with Magic Me, the things you are around make a big difference.
It was around that time that I became interested in performance. Until working with Magic Me I hadn’t been exposed much to the idea of being an artist so working alongside artists on the project was probably quite significant in how my life developed.”
The benefit to the older people, whether living in care settings, or independently in the community, is also significant. Loneliness, feeling left out or disconnected from life can affect not just mental but also physical health. The Arts & Ages projects give older people an opportunity not just to undertake an ‘activity’ but to be stretched creatively and to interact with young people from different backgrounds with different ideas. Working together on creative projects they reconnect with a sense of agency, a sense of being in touch with people in the place where they live and of still being able to make a difference.
It’s good, it’s fun, I love it. I mean I love working with them kids, they are so funny, great personalities.
Barbara, Older Participant
Our Communications Manager talked to Barbara, one of our Older Participants about her involvement in Map of Me – one of the Arts & Ages projects – you can hear her here and see a transcript of the conversation here.
“If I had to tell a friend about it, I’d tell them how exciting it is, how helpful it is, the learning process… A mixture of things, how to get on with people, because there is so much mixture of races and it helps me to see things from their point of view. As far as I’m concerned too much trouble in this world I’d rather sit and learn something off of them.”
One of the older participants talking about her experience in Magic Me projects.
You can find out more about how the programme works here
You can find out about our previous schools projects here
If you’d like to support our work in this area click here