London Freemasons are backing a pioneering effort to support those in need. Your contributions have enabled a £5,000 donation to go to the Polka Theatre in South London.
The group is based in leafy Wimbledon and fund-raiser Helen Hughes says: “SW19 is a relatively wealthy area and yet there is distinct disadvantage in East Merton that makes ours a borough of contrasts with a marked east/west divide. Polka sits on this divide. Our creative learning programme helps to break down barriers to access for families with disabled children - and special needs schools.
“We also work with youngsters at risk of social exclusion or who live in challenging circumstances who have never been to the theatre. And we are targeting hard- to-reach families where children are behind in their development. Much of this activity takes place in East Merton but also across South London too.”
London Freemasons’ donation is helping the drama company to deliver a pioneering literacy project, spurring kids to appreciate the language of Shakespeare, Dickens... and us.
The programme is called Write Here, Write Now. And it is being rolled out in a pilot study to around fifty children in five South London schools.
Head Teacher Michael Bradley, of Merton Abbey Primary, has seen the way the Freemasons’ gift has worked at first hand. He says: “Every time our children work with Polka, it is a brilliant experience - capturing the children’s imagination, inspiring their ideas, and sharing the joy of live performance.
“Projects like Write Here, Write Now are like gold dust for schools. This is a brilliant springboard for high-quality writing that the children love producing.”
The developers hope the new venture will be at least as successful as two of the group’s earlier courses.
Helen says: “In 2007, Polka pioneered relaxed performances for children on the autistic spectrum, a model which continues to be replicated across the cultural sector.
“And our annual Freefalling programme supporting Merton children who are at risk of social exclusion was presented as a model of good practice in the House of Lords.”
London Freemasons and the Polka Theatre. Together, a class act!
Children from Sunny Hills School in Streatham take part in a workshop organised by the Polka Theatre.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 41.