Beckenham- based charity Community Music In Action (CMIA) has joined forces with local choir Just Voices to provide carers in Bromley with some respite from their very demanding and difficult lives. Working with Carers Bromley, CMIA are funding 14 weekly singing sessions with the aim of setting up a permanent Carers Choir.
Led by Cathy Davies, Musical Director of Just Voices the sessions will aim to give adult carers an opportunity to meet other carers in their community and unite with them through singing, preventing isolation. It also aims to provide respite and an escape from their day-to-day caring duties through an enjoyable, creative and sociable activity.
Over the years, scientists have found that singing has a number of health benefits, it's been clinically proven to boost our immune system, reduce stress levels. But it's the social benefits of group singing that this project really aims to harness for those supported by Carers Bromley, who selflessly spend their lives providing help and support to a friend, neighbour or relative who could not manage otherwise because of frailty, illness or disability.
The first session was held on Monday 16th September, with nearly 30 enthusiastic carers in attendance. Cathy put everyone at ease with some fun team building followed by vocal warm-ups to make everyone relax and enjoy themselves. Then came some African songs that had everyone a little tongue tied at first, but once they’d mastered the lyrics their confidence and the collective sound grew stronger. To round off, Cathy divided the group into parts to sing the well known 60's song - Da Doo Ron Ron by The Crystals. Layered with some simple harmonies the carers had their first taste of how they could sound as a choir. Based on the eruption of chatter when the singing ended, the carers were very impressed with what they’d achieved in just one ninety minute session. At the tea break, 30 people who had started out the morning as individuals started to interact and develop relationships, demonstrating that this kind of project can provide a social support network as well as a chance to learn a new skill.
Sessions will be held every Monday until Christmas, starting 10am at Bromley Common Baptist Church. Monday mornings just got a whole lot better!
Community Music In Action are also launching a campaign to find a local business to sponsor and support the long term running of the choir. Those interested should contact Sarah Richardson, Outreach Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org
Carers Bromley’s Chief Executive, Lynne Powrie, writes:
“We are so pleased to have begun a choir for carers in partnership with CMIA. The first session went very well indeed, with 28 carers attending. We are hoping that carers will gain great enjoyment and pleasure from singing and that they will form friendships and enjoy the camaraderie each week. Research tells us that carers own health is affected by undertaking a caring role and so we hope that, by taking a break and focussing solely on the music, that this will feel like a rest from added responsibilities.”
Quotes from carers who attended last week:
“ I would like to pass on how enjoyable and uplifting I found the choir session and will attend Monday week”
“I enjoyed the first meeting of the choir and I think it’s fantastic. I can’t wait for next time”.
Community Music In Action http://www.cmia.org.uk (CMIA) is a local charity founded by members of Beckenham-based community choir FUNdamentally GOSPEL. The choir launched the charity in July 2011 when they realised how the benefits they had gained from making music together could be passed back to their local community. The aim of CMIA is to fund and run at least three music projects a year in Bromley and neighbouring boroughs, targeting vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of people. The projects are led by experienced musicians and professional workshop leaders supported by volunteers from members of the charity and are tailored to each partner’s needs and requirements. The long-term vision of the charity is to unite numerous local musical groups and businesses with a common purpose, that of providing musical activities to those who, for social or economic reasons, may not otherwise have the opportunity to access such activities. This is the first project to be run in collaboration with another group, in this case Just Voices.
The Carers Bromley Choir is the fourth project CMIA have run this year. Other projects have included setting up an extra curricular choir for children with specialist educational needs at Gelbe School in West Wickham, funding a day of singing and body percussion activities for the Bromley & Croydon Whizz-Kidz AmbassadorClubs and running a musical summer school for Carers Bromley’s Young Carers Service. So far over 200 people have benefited from the work of CMIA this year alone.
Carers Bromley provides support to people in the London Borough of Bromley who, unpaid, provide care for others who, due to disability, long term illness (mental or physical) or frailty, are unable to cope on their own without assistance. One in three people become carers and becoming a carer can happen to anyone at any time and affects people from all cultures and of any age. They currently support over 4,000 carers, approximately 850 of these are young carers aged 4-18 years. They offer emotional support, information, advice and advocacy, respite and sitting services, stress-busting and lots more.
Just Voices is a Bromley-based all-female a cappella choir who this month celebrate their seventh birthday. They regularly perform at public and private functions as well as competing in local festivals and competitions. They are delighted to be able to run this community project for Carers Bromley funded by Community Music in Action.