Adopt A Granny: Highgate woman's scheme to boost community ties

Ruffina Adimora (left) with three of the Adopt A Granny participants. 

Ruffina Adimora (left) with three of the Adopt A Granny participants. - Credit: Kieran Didier

Whether by helping members of her community "adopt a granny", busting myths about Covid and conspiracy, and even running dressmaking classes to help people learn useful skills,  Highgate's Ruffina Adimora has busy during the pandemic trying to improve community ties.

She told the Ham&High she has been working to build bridges between the generations of London's Nigerian diaspora community.

With the help of grants from the National Lottery, she's been able to offer lifelines to elderly people who might need company and younger people who have been desperate to reconnect with their heritage. She called the scheme Adopt A Granny.

Ruffina said: "There are a lot of elderly people who can't go out, and it seemed we could get some younger people to help look after them.

"Because some of these young people are second, third, fourth generation, it's really lovely for them to connect with their heritage."

Ruffina Adimora (left) with the reigning Miss Adanma Esther Chizobam Jacob, along with Jane and Mirian - also participants...

Ruffina Adimora (left) with the reigning Miss Adanma Esther Chizobam Jacob, along with Jane and Mirian - also participants in Adopt A Granny. - Credit: Kieran Didier

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"For many elderly people lockdown has meant isolation, made even more unbearable if there is no family or no family living in this country. A regular chat and visit, especially a visit from a young person, can make all the difference to someone’s health and wellbeing”.

Earlier in the pandemic, Ruffina's 3R Productions organisation was given lottery funding to make short videos - in both English and Igbo - in the hope of providing information about the virus and government guidelines. The idea was particularly aimed at helping the elderly who may not have English as a first language.

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Ruffina said: "Each video has a very short shelf life, but for a few days they are so important for people, particularly but not exclusively the elderly, whose first language is not English and who are having difficulties following government guidelines."

Ruffina - who has previously organised the Miss Adanma pageants celebrating African beauty and empowerment for women and girls - had also used her experience in the fashion industry to help run classes teaching dressmaking during the lockdown.

She said the aim is to help people "acquire both the confidence and the skills to move on quickly to gain formal qualifications and from there to move into employment”. 

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