Cocktails: The After Party

The After Party was the Cocktails in Care Homes team's response to the changing situations around the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Magic Me’s longstanding, award winning Cocktails in Care Homes (2010 – 2020) saw us throwing monthly cocktail parties in care homes and extra care schemes across London.

Parties were our response to reports of quiet and lonely evenings in care homes, and the inability of many residents to pop down the pub or out to socialise with friends, due to ill health, frailty and diminished energy. Many residents families live far away, and many didn’t have visitors for weeks at a time. By January 2020, we were throwing monthly parties in 18 care homes and extra care schemes across London, attended by over 400 volunteers and 500 residents per year, alongside care staff and family members. No two parties were ever the same, with activities and entertainment shaped by the interests of party goers. Sessions encompassed themed decor, music, dancing, games and magic, with support from specialist volunteers and creative organisations.

The After Party was the Cocktails team’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and was a new format for the Cocktails project. From April – July 2020, The After Party aimed to find new ways to fulfil our project aims of connecting young and older adults through regular social activity, even if we were no longer able to meet face to face.

Eager for the project to take a new and dynamic shape, adjustable to the rapidly changing situation, our core project’s aim to reduce social isolation in our communities was even more pressing.

You are invited to Cocktails…..The After Party!
The After Party was an interactive project to keep the Cocktails community – volunteers, care home residents, staff and family members –  and wider community connected through fun, meaningful creative activity. 

The After Party was led by our team of Magic Me Artists Mia Harris, Kathy Horak-Hallett, Shepherd Manyika and Chuck Blue Lowry. We found new ways to engage in what we loved most about parties: laughing, singing, dancing, debating and exploring together, remotely and from afar.

How people took part
Each month, After Party care partners received newsletters from Magic Me which included artist actions and activities, alongside personalised messages from Cocktails Volunteers. The After Party ‘Care Package’ was sent via post and included physical items, i.e letters, artworks created by volunteers and wider public.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Magic Me understood that staff capacity in care settings to support and engage in creative activity was potentially reduced – and that access to technology differed across the board. Magic Me carried out bespoke and tailored approaches towards supporting residents and staff, ensuring that activities were accessible and take into consideration the practicalities of care staff/ resident interaction during COVID-19 in mind i.e.. ensuring activities can be engaged with individually (for residents in isolation) or small, socially distanced groups, if group activity is still taking place.

We aimed to ensure that each care package functioned as a supportive resource to facilitate the meaningful social interaction and sense of community we all needed during this time.

This project has now come to an end. Check The After Party archives for continued access to our creative actions, responses, messages and more! 

Read our project evaluation report by Alison Teader of NAPA (National Activity Provider Association) here.

This project was funded by: Arts Council England, French Huguenot Church of London Charitable Trust, Hammersmith United Charities, Salter Charitable Trust, Westminster Amalgamated Charity, The Expat Foundation.

After Party Mia Harris’s first ‘Care Package’ sent to partners in May.
Volunteer Fiona D wearing her Cocktails headdress prize won at our April Cocktail Hour, designed by After Party artist Mia Harris! May 2020
Residents at Silk Court in Bethnal Green wearing Cocktails Headdresses sent in Care Packages, June 2020