Since mid-March, within the huge changes brought by Covid-19, we have been working with our partners and participants, to find new ways to meet, to make and to party, at a distance. Our name for this new programme is At Home Together.
We began to deliver this programme in April and currently plan to run it to Sept 2020. We are offering interesting, creative activities, which encourage interaction between people, and grow intergenerational understanding, while relieving social isolation and loneliness.
Our artists, who work in many different art forms, are creating and facilitating activities for people living individually, in families or in group care settings, where some staff support may be available. The programmes we have launched so far are:
- The After Party: with Cocktails in Care Homes parties no longer possible, volunteers and residents at 9 care homes and extra-care schemes are being offered artist led activities with ways to interact: exchanging letters, artworks curated newsletters and online and phone meet-ups. Four artists are working on the project, each taking a month apiece to create activities on a loose theme. (see below for more information on how this has been running in April)
- The View From Here: with our Arts & Ages participants, seven artists will create online and offline activities with schools, care settings and housing providers designed to maintain intergenerational relationships adapted to the current circumstances, but keeping in mind the original aims of each project (see below – launching this week).
- Generation Rebellion, our annual women’s project involving school students and older women living at home. This stage of the project will now be based around the creation of Zines on Climate Emergency. The two lead artists will facilitate activities both on/off line, via post and phone. The zines will bring together visuals and text and provide the basis for a later substantial project, now scheduled for the Autumn onwards.
- Quality Street – With the planned summer street party no longer able to take place, our Waltham Forest Community Steering group are commissioning an artist to create a remote, intergenerational festival experience.
Research & Development, Learning and Sharing the Learning
We have already learnt much from working on this new programme and we continue to pilot and experiment and fine tune what we offer and how we offer it. We are also in contact with many different organisations across the different areas we work in, including a partnership with NAPA (The National Activity Providers Association) to share what we have learnt and to learn from others.
We invite you to take part in the activities we are creating for our regular participants. These are being shared online through our social media, newsletters.
We have always seen our work as a form of activism against ageism (some readers will remember our #BinAgeism project) the current crisis creates even greater challenges. Through activism and communications work we will continue to speak out against ageism, to amplify the voices of those locked in behind the walls of care homes (both residents and staff), and to work in alliance with others to create positive change.
Support for our Regular Participants
Our project teams have taken on new work as part of Magic Me’s response to the crisis and we are providing support to our regular participants through stay in touch phone calls – where necessary we are signposting to other agencies eg Food Banks, Advice Lines according to individual needs.
So far At Home Together has been funded using confirmed project income, reworked with funders’ consent. We are now fundraising urgently to help us continue with these vital projects for as long as is necessary.
We launch this programme just as the ‘Stay Home’ message changes in England, but we believe that the At Home Together title will continue to be relevant for some time to come: many of our core 70+ participant group will choose to remain at home, or live in care homes, rarely going out, until such time as a medical solution to the virus is found. The project title serves to remind us that many people will remain in social isolation.
ACE is helping to fund our At Home Together programme under their Emergency Response Package, which aids creative organisations affected by COVID 19. Through this fund, Magic Me can continue supporting our artists who are creating and facilitating art activities to younger and older people. It is also helping us to use our expertise to develop, deliver and learn from our work to continue combating social isolation and loneliness. More importantly, it is helping to keep in touch with many of the older people that we work with, who feel most vulnerable at this time.