The Golden-Oldies started life with just four daytime fun sing-along sessions for older vulnerable people living at sheltered housing community rooms in January 2008.
Seven years on, ‘Goldies’, known as the sing and smile charity, will launch its ONE HUNDREDTH venue, singing Bollywood Bhangra music in partnership with South Asian older people from the Bristol and South Gloucestershire Dhek Bhal Community.
The charity now reaches out across Southern England and Wales with its popular formula using the memory-evoking songs of the 60s and onwards. Over 10,000 individual sessions have taken place within the last seven years at various venues including community rooms, church halls and schools. It plans to expand its work across the whole of the UK in the years ahead under the banner, GOLDIES UK.
The sessions are led by 35 dedicated leaders and Sir Cliff Richard is the supportive Patron.
Goldies reaches out across all communities and, with the support of a grant from The Henry Smith Charity in 2013, sessions engage with Afro Caribbean Elders at the Malcolm X Centre in St Paul’s, Bristol and Chinese Older People in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. It plans to develop more sessions with diverse communities throughout 2015 in Cardiff, Swindon, Gloucester and Weston-super-Mare.
Zehra Haq is Chief Executive of Dhek Bhal, she said;
“I have seen for myself on so many occasions the enjoyment that comes from a good old fashioned community sing song.
“We are delighted to work together with Grenville and the Goldies Charity and to develop our partnership in the year ahead.”
During the last seven years Goldies has received hundreds of messages from the older people who look forward to attending their local session.
“It’s the fellowship – good to meet people” – an 80 year old lady from Rhymney in Wales
“Nothing beats singing together” – a 72 year old man from Llantwit Major
Linda attends the Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, sessions with her husband who has Alzheimer’s. Singing is good therapy for him. She said; “Our nearest sessions were in Stafford but now there is no travelling since it opened in Uttoxeter. We go to all of them. I would definitely recommend people to come along, we have such fun”
Cath from Bathampton chooses ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’ every week as it reminds her of when her and her husband used to dance together – “I like singing and to hear the songs my husband and I used to go dancing”
86 year old Nancy never misses our Goldies session at Withywood in South Bristol. “An elderly person needs a bit of something to look forward to. We do a lot of looking backwards when we get older.”
Independent academic research has underlined the value that Goldies is bringing to lonely lives. In a report by Dr Barbra Teater from the University of Bristol, she concluded;
“The most important result was the statistically significant improvement in self-reported overall heath from before their participation in the Goldies sessions to now.”
The charity first started in Bath & North East Somerset with four sessions at Peasedown, Bathampton, Southdown and Keynsham. There are now 17 across that area including new sessions at Westfield, Oldfield Park and Odd Down. The popular monthly Big Sing at the Carrswood Day Centre, Twerton, brings together Goldies from across the area and is enjoyed by adults with learning difficulties who attend the centre.
South Gloucestershire and Bristol soon followed and there will be 18 sessions by the end of this year. One of the original sessions at Withywood Community Centre now attracts over 70 people, including many adults with learning difficulties. A new session has just started in Brislington as well as two sessions in partnership with Bristol Charities.
Swindon Borough Council have supported Goldies in the Town for the past six years. There are eight regular sessions and a new session at the United Community Lunch Club will commence later this year. In the county of Wiltshire, session numbers by the end of this year will reach 14. New sessions have recently been introduced at Warminster, Corsham, Calne and Devizes. Hilperton will be the next Wiltshire Goldies session to start up.
Across Gloucestershire, Goldies launched three years ago and there are now 15 sessions with a further six planned for Bristol and South Gloucestershire. A total of 18 by December of this year. In Gloucester a new session with Gloucester Black Elders at St Catherine Court will get underway in 2015.
In Somerset and Mendip, Goldies has been running sessions for a number of years. A popular new session in Nailsea was launched in 2014 and Goldies arrived in Wells this February. Sessions are held in Yeovil, Chard and Ilminster with plans for a new session in Taunton later this year. Goldies kicked off at Frome Town Football Club in February.
Last year Goldies launched in Hampshire, Essex and Staffordshire and founder Grenville Jones aims to introduce new sessions in 2015 across Southern England.
In Essex Goldies works in partnership with Greenfields Community Housing Ltd, Sandra Crosby is Housing Director, she said;
“When we first met Grenville last year we were so impressed with his passion and enthusiasm for the charity. Goldies and Greenfields are bound to be a winning duet!
“We know how easy it is for people to become lonely and isolated. We are eager to play our part in making our communities healthy, happy and resilient.”
There will be 10 sessions in and around Braintree by the close of this year with plans for a community Big Sing event in October.
In Hampshire Goldies has established sessions in and around Andover and there are plans to develop the work of the Charity across the county in the months ahead. Goldies in Basingstoke is the next target area.
In Staffordshire Goldies is taking off with four sessions in Uttoxeter and Burton-upon-Trent. There will be eight sessions by the end of this year.
The development of Goldies has been supported by a number of philanthropic Trusts as well as the National Lottery. The charity has also developed its inter-generational programme which encourages schools to open their doors to older people in their local communities.
GOLDIES IN WALES
Goldies CYMRU launched three years ago and a major Lottery Wales grant in 2013 under-pined the development of regular monthly sessions over the next three years. The target by the end of 2016 is 60 sessions across Wales.
Goldies CYMRU has its own dedicated English/Welsh website www.goldiescymru.org.uk.
A substantial donation was recently received from Diane Brière de L’Isle Engelhardt from the Wales-based Moondance Foundation.
In a letter to Grenville Jones, Diane wrote;
“I want to congratulate you and thank you for creating such an organisation. Older people are too often left behind in our rushing society and it is not only a waste of all they have to offer but a very sad reality. You are indeed making a ‘BIG’ difference to the lives of older people in Wales and I would like to help.”
WORKING WITH SCHOOLS
The Goldies Time after Time programme was chosen by the National Lottery and was highly commended in the 2012 prestigious Lottery Awards, Education section.
Over 90 schools have taken part in Time after Time projects to date.
Goldies Chair of Trustees, Mike Richardson said;
“We are a very small charity and still only have one full-time member of staff. Without question it is the pure energy and enthusiasm of our founder Grenville Jones that has driven us forward. It is quite remarkable what Grenville has achieved.
“In recent months our development across Southern England and Wales underlines our vision to reach out to older people across the whole of the United Kingdom as Goldies UK.
“Working in partnership with our local hospice in Bath, Dorothy House, 2015 will see the opening of our first Goldies Charity Shop. Not surprisingly, Grenville intends to make this the first singing shop in the world with regular Goldies singing sessions taking place each month actually in the shop!”
The new Dhek Bhal session in Barton Hill will be led by Dildar Singh the charismatic leader of the group, RSVP Bhangra and is yet another exciting development for the Goldies Charity.
Founder Grenville Jones said;
“I find it hard to believe that we have travelled from four sessions to 100 in such a short space of time. Goldies is all about the volunteers who support our work, the brilliant session leaders and the older people to whom our sessions mean so much.
“I often have to remind people that Goldies is NOT a choir. We do use the popular hits of the 50s onwards and at many of our sessions there is dancing as well as singing but Goldies is about giving lonely people a REASON to get out and have fun.
“I want to become Goldies UK reaching out to older people across the country.
My target? To go from 100 to 500 by the end of 2018 across the UK and I know with the support of others, we can achieve this.”
www.golden-oldies.org.uk is the English website.
www.goldiescymru.org.uk is the Welsh website.