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Magic Me charity in Bethnal Green lands £100,000 lottery to take ‘busting age barrier’ ideas on a ‘post code’ tour

PUBLISHED: 00:01 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 07:41 18 January 2018

Children from John Scurr Primary meet the elderly at Hawthorn Green care home for their 'Stepney Words' project. Picture: Roxene Anderson

Children from John Scurr Primary meet the elderly at Hawthorn Green care home for their 'Stepney Words' project. Picture: Roxene Anderson

Roxene Anderson

An arts charity that cuts through the generation barrier is going nationwide with its pioneering ideas that bring east London pensioners together with young people after getting a £100,000 lottery award.

Magic Me’'s manager Clea House meeting veteran East End campaigner Carolyn Merion in 2011 at Stepney's Pat Shaw care home. Picture: Mike BrookeMagic Me’'s manager Clea House meeting veteran East End campaigner Carolyn Merion in 2011 at Stepney's Pat Shaw care home. Picture: Mike Brooke

The Magic Me organisation in Bethnal Green has received the cash today from the People’s Postcode Lottery to take its ideas to post codes around the country.

These include its schools programme and its unique ‘Cocktails in Care Homes’ project where young professionals spend an evening in a care home with elderly residents who don’t get visitors.

“We can now expand activities beyond London,” Magic Me’s Chair Alison Harvie said. “This is bringing generations and communities together.”

The charity, set up in 1989, challenges attitudes that the aged don’t enjoy performing arts or taking part in projects because they are physically or mentally frail.

Children enjoy good start to the day from Magic Me's breakfast club at Thomas Buxton School in Whitechapel. Picture source: Magic MeChildren enjoy good start to the day from Magic Me's breakfast club at Thomas Buxton School in Whitechapel. Picture source: Magic Me

People in care homes often can’t pop down the pub or go out with friends due to ill health and frailty, the organisation points out. But they are still mentally alert.

Magic Me director Susan Langford said: “Youngsters and old people are seen as ‘a problem’. But bring them together and they often come up with solutions to problems in their communities.”

The charity has been running its Cocktails in Care Homes programme since 2010, now holding monthly parties in 12 homes.

It also runs breakfast clubs in primary schools, making sure all children get off to a good start for the day.

Girls from Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary meeting pensioners for a chinwag about 'decorum' project by Magic Me. Picture: Roxene AndersonGirls from Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary meeting pensioners for a chinwag about 'decorum' project by Magic Me. Picture: Roxene Anderson

Its Stepney Stories project brought together children from John Scurr Primary with elderly residents at Hawthorn Green care home over 10 weeks in the summer to make short films.

Two workshop projects in Whitechapel last year were Mulberry Secondary pupils meeting older women to look at ideas of decorum and children from Osmani Primary meeting Sinclair Court sheltered housing residents with photography, sound, maps and graphics to explore their origins.

A project starts in Bromley-by-Bow next week with pupils from Clara Grant Primary meeting pensioners at the Link Centre for storytelling and local history. It follows a similar project with children from Clara Grant and Old Palace schools working with Bromley-By-Bow Centre and Fern Street Settlement using storytelling and video for a stage performance on migrations.

Magic Me was commissioned by Public Health Tower Hamlets to run a project tackling isolation with research showing that loneliness can have long-term impacts on physical and mental health. The charity has also recently been involved in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration.

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