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 delivering in April and ran project through until September 2020. We offered interesting, creative activities, which encouraged interaction between people, grow intergenerational understanding, while relieving social isolation and loneliness.
Our artists, who work in many different art forms, created and facilitated activities for people living individually, in families or in group care settings, where some staff support was available. The programmes we launched:
- The After Party: with Cocktails in Care Homes parties no longer possible, volunteers and residents at 9 care homes and extra-care schemes took part in artist led activities connecting people through: exchanging letters, sharing artworks, curated newsletters and online and phone meet-ups. Four artists worked on the project, each leading on an individual month, creating activities on a loose theme.
- The View From Here: with our Arts & Ages participants, seven artists created online and offline activities with schools, care settings and housing providers designed to maintain intergenerational relationships adapted to the current circumstances, whilst keeping in mind the original aims of each project.
- Generation Rebellion: our annual women’s project involving secondary school students and older women living independently. After an initial R&D phase throughout January – March, participants created the Generation Rebellion Zine, led by project artists Sue Mayo and Elsa James. Older and younger participants took part in activities both on/off line, via post and phone. The Zine brings together visuals and text and provides the basis for a later substantial project.
- Quality Street: with the planned summer street party no longer able to take place, our Waltham Forest Community Steering group commissioned a group of artists to create a remote, intergenerational festival experience. Year 5 from George Mitchell Primary School, continued working with residents living at two local care schemes through a remote project, creating an animation film.
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 fo as long as is necessary.
We launched this programme just as the ‘Stay Home’ message changed in England, but as expected, the At Home Together title continued to be relevant for some time with many of our core 70+ participant group unable to leave their homes 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.