'We're not related by blood but we are a family'
Margaret, Sutton House
For Margaret, life is all about community. Born in Derbyshire, Margaret remembers a time when everyone knew everyone and looked out for one another. Now, she lives in a high rise flat in Hackney and while this could be isolating, she has created a life for herself outside the tower block.
Margaret’s love of being amongst people and contributing to her community, led her to coin the phrase ‘recycled teenagers’ for the group of over 55 year olds that meet once a week at Sutton House. For many of the ‘teenagers’, some in their 90s, their time together making crafts, playing music and learning to dance with their teacher Stuart, is one of the only times they get to interact with others.
The 'Doctor of Dance'
Fondly referred to as the ‘Doctor of Dance’ the group love what Stuart brings into their lives, through their weekly class. Regardless of age or ability - one woman even goes to the class despite being on crutches - they give it a go. As Margaret says 'We’ve retired, not expired.'
Giving back to the community
While people bustle past Sutton House going about their lives, it's an essential part of life for this group. However, they give back as much as they get from it.
Over the years, the recycled teenagers have produced tapestries and artwork, which now hang on the walls, and have made crafts that have been sold to raise funds for the house. Outside, they have transformed the Breaker's Yard into a garden where the community can sit and enjoy a cuppa, or the kids can play in the sandpit.
Protecting a place that means so much
With Sutton House representing such an important part of Margaret’s life, it's unsurprising that she is passionate about its protection and the value it offers to the community.
'People go to these groups and it’s like a comfort blanket. When they leave, they leave that behind and they haven’t got another at home to surround them. That’s the good thing about Sutton House. I’ve got a comfort blanket to go to on a Friday where I can unwind and be with people that I love and the people love me.'
For Margaret and the recycled teenagers, Sutton House is a place where potentially isolated and lonely people can spend time with others, feeding that important part of all our souls – to have companionship and friendship.