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Community group set up by Barking and Dagenham couple wins £50k ITV grant

PUBLISHED: 08:37 19 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:51 19 April 2019

Weininger Irwin, far left, with members of Ageless Teenagers. Pic: Lorraine King

Weininger Irwin, far left, with members of Ageless Teenagers. Pic: Lorraine King

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A community group set up by a married couple from Barking and Dagenham has won £50,000 funding to bring teens and senior citizens together to tackle serious youth violence while keeping fit and healthy.

Ageless Teenagers has just been announced the winner of £50,000 in funding through The People's Projects. Picture: Ken MearsAgeless Teenagers has just been announced the winner of £50,000 in funding through The People's Projects. Picture: Ken Mears

It has been announced yesterday that 3EMs – short for Exercise, Eat, Enjoy and More – has won funding through The People's Project initiative, supported by ITV and the National Lottery.

The funds will go towards their “Ageless Teenagers” project which has been running since October 2017.

Reacting to the news, the group's co-founder Weininger Irwin said: “Listen, I am elated. I feel elated because we will be able to do so much more with that funding.”

The project includes monthly Caribbean tea parties, where senior citizens can get moving and stay fit.

Members of Ageless Teenagers join pupils from Mayfield School to publicise the project  aimed to bring together senior Caribbean citizens and teenagers to simultaneously tackle loneliness and knife crime.Members of Ageless Teenagers join pupils from Mayfield School to publicise the project aimed to bring together senior Caribbean citizens and teenagers to simultaneously tackle loneliness and knife crime.

Recalling feedback he received from one tea party attendee, Weininger said: “She said 'I came as an 81-year-old woman, and I leave feeling 21.'”

The project will also see the start of an intergenerational community gardening scheme run at Ilford Sports Club, in Cricklefield Place, and another programme to record the history and experiences of Caribbean elders who lived in the UK during the 50s and 60s.

“We want to share those experiences with youngsters,” he said. “They don't realise that there was a level of hardship and that the benefits they have now come from the hard work of our ageless teenagers.”

Wieninger shared a story which one lady told him during an event the group ran last year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Windrush's arrival at Tilbury Docks.

“She had to leave behind her two-year-old daughter to come here and work hard,” he said. “It was eight years later when her daughter came over.”

The whole time she kept with her a ribbon as reminder that they would be reunited.

The group believes that the seniors can play a unique role in supporting teens to steer clear of violence.

“You have a soft spot for your grandparents,” he said. “If something from them we tend to give them the time of day to listen and for it to filtrate.”

He added: “We feel their experience will help in raising awareness of how bad the negative impact of knife crime has been on our community.”

The scheme is open to anyone to join and involves pupils from Mayfield School, in Pedley Road.

He said: “We encourage everyone to come in and sample a taste of the Caribbean.”

Find out more at agelessteenagers.com.

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