Homes of Hope

Unique Community is working in partnership with Woodland Grove Care Home to exchange weekly letters between residents and our very own Brent Youth Theatre participants. Woodland Grove is a care home based in Loughton, Essex and is run by Oakland Care. Oakland Care creates a comfortable living that promotes individuality. They have personalised, high-quality care plans and a fulfilling activities programme designed to enhance each and every day. The residents also usually enjoy regular visits from family and friends but due to COVID-19 they are now on lockdown and this is proving to be a very disorientating and isolating experience for many of them. We hope that with this project we can bring this group of people a little bit of light whilst also giving our young people a sense of connection and hope. Eventually we want the young people and the residents to meet, perhaps perform for each other and maybe even share a biscuit with tea together. Something that once seemed so simple is now of the highest value, spending time together in one place.

Lifestyles Manager Elise Woolnough comments:

"I think the project 'Homes of Hope' has come at an extremely important time in history. The language surrounding the elderly being used by the media focuses on fear and vulnerability, which of course is rife but there is so much to unpack underneath the surface. I believe that much good is happening within social care and communities to not only challenge the stereotypes of the elderly portrayed in the wider media, but to combat loneliness and ensure that we all have a helping hand and listening ear to lean on. I am so excited not only to work in collaboration with such a fantastic organisation and group of young people but to leave our residents feeling valued and inspired. At the very least, this project will provide entertainment and stimulation for a short while for many, but at its peak, this project could be the start of unlikely bonds and friendships between communities and individuals."

Along with sending letters Brent Youth Theatre participants meet once a week on Zoom to discuss ways that they can entertain the residents with weekly challenges. The video below was made during a session where the challenge was to show us your special talent.

Elise told us about their reaction to our video:

"After watching the talent sharing video from Brent Youth Theatre, the residents were left with huge smiles on their faces. Throughout the video there was laughter and applause and plenty of questions about who these children are. Many of those watching the video were not yet involved in the project but this left them wanting more with one lady asking to be involved after seeing it. This was a pretty special moment as this particular resident has just spent a lot of time in hospital and has had trouble adjusting since coming back, so perhaps this project will provide some relief to that transition."

A few other residents commented on the project:

‘It will be great to get into it all’ Joan

"I think it’s excellent, any project like this that goes across generations is excellent. Even if it only teaches something new to one person, it will be stimulating for us all.’ Norma​

This project is a chance for our participants to connect with people that they would otherwise never have communicated with - it's amazing to hear their reactions to the residents' letters already and this is just the beginning. We are really looking forward to seeing how this pans out - hopefully we can bridge a gap between young and old through our common experience of isolation. At its core this project builds empathy for both sides and gives everyone something to look forward to and that is so desperately needed right now. In this strange and frightening time, anything that can give us even a little bit of joy seems right and necessary to do.

To find out more follow our journey at #homesofhope or on our Brent Youth Theatre & Unique Community social media!

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