Community choir and singing guru Gareth Malone has shown that singing is good for the soul. Singing is certainly something that chimes with people at a Livability North London care home. Ask people who live at Livability Brookside about what they enjoy doing, and ‘singing’ comes up quite a bit. Brookside residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities but a local singing group is a particular favourite.
Janice and Lynn are two residents that really find that singing and getting together with others is fun and boosts their wellbeing.
‘I love singing, singing is my thing!’ says Janice. She most enjoys ‘songs from musicals – Edelweiss and Moon River are my favourites’. Janice feels her voice has ‘improved a lot’ since she joined the group, coupled with singing regularly at church. About the choir Janice says: ‘They’re really nice and pleased to see me,’ says Janice. ‘The conductor makes me feel at home.’
Janice’s housemate Lynn also gets a big lift from singing. ‘I’ve always sung and used to sing in other choirs. I sing alto. Yes, we meet people and have a chat and usually after singing, we go to the café for a cuppa,’ says Lynn.
Janice and Lynn’s experience of better wellbeing is borne out by research from the University of Oxford, which suggests that as well as the release of positive neurochemicals stimulated by singing, the rapid social bonding that comes with joining a choir can lead to a sense of increased community and belonging.*
With ‘connecting’ and ‘learning’ high on Livability’s agenda, in response to the NHS’s steps to mental wellbeing, this group is one of many activities that enable people supported by Livability to make connections in the local community.
Livability Brookside’s Activities Coordinator Richard Peel says: ‘The singing group is a nice place for social chit chat, and other people in the group come along to the café afterwards. Connections are starting to be made, and group members have offered to do things like push our wheelchair users there.’
Janice doesn’t confine singing to just the group – she sings her way through a yoga class too: ‘Doing yoga helps my singing, and our yoga teacher lets me sing in the class!’
Livability thinks Gareth Malone would be proud!