Monday, June 16, 2014
Sing for fun charity spreads across England and Wales
Picture attached. All smiles for hundreds who attend the Goldies daytime singing and activity sessions.
Six and a half years ago, in January 2008, Bath choir leader Grenville Jones founded the Golden-Oldies charity taking the first four fun one hour daytime singing sessions for older people in sheltered housing community rooms around Bath.
Six years on and this year, in 2014, the charity will open session number 100 with ‘Goldies’ across the West County and South Wales as well as new developments in Hampshire, Staffordshire and Essex. There are now over 30 session leaders and hundreds of volunteers are dedicated to taking the work of the charity forward.
After a number of years conducting West Country choirs, Grenville had realised that singing in a group, quite simply, improved people’s social lives, encouraged friendships and made people happy.
“I wanted to capture the fun and friendship factor I saw each week across my choirs. I hoped that if I could create that atmosphere of companionship through singing, I could brighten the lives of older people.
“In 2007 I had watched a Channel 4 documentary about the Young@Heart Chorus. Here were older people in the States belting out pop music. It was magical, my inspiration.
“Goldies was never meant to be a choir but we would use the memory evoking music of the 50s onwards at the sessions. They would be played as backing tracks, singing along to the popular songs of your earlier years.”
After three years an independent academic study highlighted the wellbeing value of the charity. In her conclusion report, Dr Barbra Teater wrote;
‘The results of this evaluation have clearly indicated how participation in the Golden-Oldies enhances a participant's health and wellbeing, strengthens and stimulates communities and can potentially be a cost-saving programme to society by reducing social isolation and improving overall health.
Those attending are generally older people as well as those with learning difficulties, dementia and Alzheimer’s. For many, getting out to a Goldies session is the only time spent with others.
The charity has stated its aim to become GOLDIES UK in the months ahead, reaching out to thousands across the UK.
This year alone the charity has added another 9 of its daytime singing and activity sessions with 15 more due to commence before the close of 2014. From this figure 10 will be in South Wales under the Goldies Cymru banner.
In Bath and North East Somerset a new session has started in Odd Down with additional sessions in Westfield, Oldfield Park and Saltford on the horizon.
In Gloucester Goldies is working with the city council and the British Heart Foundation to start new sessions. In Hampshire it links with town councils and community foundations. There are popular sessions in and around Andover with plans in place for a further four this year.
New sessions have also started in Stroud and Cam.
In Somerset Nailsea is the newest session in with more in Chard, Crewkerne and Illminster attracting older people each month to enjoy the special Goldies experience. A BIG SING open day will take place at Yeovil on August 9 working in partnership with Age UK Somerset.
Further academic studies support the wellbeing message of the smile Goldies charity that has Sir Cliff Richard as supportive patron. The memory-evoking hits of the 50s are staple diet of the hundreds who attend with the hits of Sir Cliff high on the list.
In Bristol and South Gloucestershire there are a total of 12 sessions. At the Malcolm X centre in St Pauls and at Withywood South Bristol they regularly attract over 50 people. New sessions are planned including one in Brislington.
In Swindon a new session will start soon at the Coleview Community Centre in adding to the seven already across the town with the continued support of Swindon Borough Council. In Wiltshire a second session has started in Chippenham with additional sessions starting soon in Devizes and Calne. These are supported the Swindon and Wiltshire Community Foundation, a total of 11 across the county.
In South Wales Goldies Cymru was launched with eight session two years ago. The sessions are rapidly developing following a £149,000 grant over three years from the National Lottery Wales to establish new sessions. There will be a minimum of 50 by the end of 2016.
Four new session leaders have been recruited this year in Wales and the charities award-winning intergenerational Time after Time programme for schools across Wales was announced at the National Museum Cardiff in May.
Cardiff City Councillor Judith Woodman attended the launch, she said;
“What a wonderful afternoon! The joy on the faces of the older people and the children there said it all. Hopefully, more schools can become involved in the Time after Time programme helping to bring young people and not so young together more.”
A dedicated Welsh and English language, goldiescymru website was also launched last month.
In England with Lottery English Heritage funding, Goldies is working with primary schools encouraging them to engage with older people in their communities on World War One projects. An easy to sing medley of World War One songs has been commissioned and written by Cardiff based Alwyn Humphreys.
Further afield in England Grenville Jones will be in Braintree in Essex next week to start the first of six new sessions in liaison with Greenfields Community Housing.
Sandra Crosby, Housing Director at Greenfields, said:
“When we met Grenville we were so impressed with his passion and enthusiasm for the charity. We shared the idea of starting Goldies with our tenants and they agreed to fund the project for the next 12 months. Goldies and Greenfields are bound to be a winning duet!”
Earlier this year Grenville was contacted by Anne Griffiths who lives in Uttoxeter. Anne sings in a choir and had read about the work of Goldies. Next week a new session will start in the town with plans to extend across Staffordshire in the years ahead.
Apart from support from the national lottery, Goldies has received support and grants from many organisations and trusts. This year these include The Tudor Trust, Swindon Borough Council, St John’s Hospital, Brian and Margaret Roper, the John James Charity, CURO Housing, West Somerset District Council as well as many town councils where the grants specifically cover costs of delivering the local sessions.
From four sessions to one hundred represents phenomenal growth for a small charity that now brightens the lives of hundreds of older people as well as those with learning difficulties and dementia.
“It has been a remarkable journey,” says Grenville Jones.
“This has been achieved with a very small team of dedicated people including our board of Trustees. We still only have one full-time staff member, Abby Rakes as well as seven part-time staff. Two of these are based in Wales working for Goldies Cymru.
“Our session leaders are at the heart of all we do. They are fundamental to our growth.
“To make the move to become a national charity we need to find supportive philanthropic individuals and major trusts to provide the funding to underwrite our development.
“We have illustrated with our development to date that this can be achieved with a project leader in each area supported by our very small team back at our office just outside Bath.”
Grenville still maintains his links with choral music. Most nights of the week he takes choir rehearsals and there are over 400 singers in his choirs. He is founder conductor of seven in total, including the Last Choir Standing Bath Male Choir who will visit Japan later this year.
Find out more about Goldies www.golden-oldies.org.uk <http://www.golden-oldies.org.uk> or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Press enquiries to Grenville Jones on 07778 282934.