A WOKING-BASED project that links care homes and schools through music and other forms of art has won a national award for an initiative it ran at the start of the pandemic.

Care to Create was an offshoot of work by Intergenerational Music Making (IMM), which was set up by Horsell resident Charlotte Miller, a music therapist.

IMM involves children visiting care homes and hospitals to sing and play music to and with the residents and patients and has developed into a national initiative.

The first pandemic lockdown last year meant the visits, which were mostly in Surrey, had to be suspended.

Care to Create was developed to connect young and old remotely by online sharing of songs and music and also stories, poems, drawings and paintings created by children from 15 schools, often as part of their home-schooling. This involved 45 care homes where residents viewed material individually or in groups.

Written and visual work were sent to hospitals, including St Peter’s, where they were used to decorate walls and for the patients to enjoy.

Care to Create won the 3rd Sector Care Campaigning for Change award presented in an online ceremony by mother and daughter television presenters Esther Rantzen and Rebecca Wilcox to Emily Abbott, the IMM programme manager.

Emily said: “We are so honoured to have won this award for our Care to Create, COVID-response campaign.

“Our work throughout the pandemic has shown that music and intergenerational connections inspire a new kind of conversation, one that is inclusive and champions people, their stories and aspirations, regardless of age, background and culture. We look forward to continuing to bridge societal gaps through Intergenerational Music Making.”

Charlotte, who grew up in West Byfleet and started IMM after the experience of visiting her grandmother in a care home around 25 years ago, said: “Through Care to Create we were determined to keep connections strong and active through the power of the arts.

“The response from residents and staff members in care homes has suggested that this act of kindness was deeply needed for a lot of the residents who were experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“The demand to continue the connection through the arts is evident as health practitioners have been emailing us expressing the positivity and encouragement the residents have been feeling. 

“Many of the schools we worked with also included Care to Create as part of their home-schooling, encouraging the children to spend a little time making something to send to their local hospital, care home, elderly neighbour or posting on Facebook.”

IMM is also running Together with Music, a national programme of linking young and old through music in a partnership with Care England.

This afternoon (Thursday 4 March) Together with Music is holding a free webinar, starting at 2pm.

A panel, who will include Professor Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society, and Chi-chi Nwanoku, who founded and runs the Chineke! Foundation, will discuss Intergenerational practice, music in health, care and education and will be answering questions. To book your place, visithttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/141698958399.

The Chineke! Foundation is aimed at showcasing the talents of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people within classical music.

 Its junior orchestra was voted into the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 and included Woking College student Imaan Kashim and her brother Jamaal.

Chi-chi Nwanoku has been appointed the IMM ambassador and said: “Music is a bridge that connects us to one another, and projects like the IMM prove it. It has been wonderful to see conversations opening up between Chineke! junior musicians and older generations over this past year.

“As IMM’s new ambassador, I am looking forward to seeing this work expand and get even more people involved throughout the UK.”