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Award winning Singing for the Soul

A new community event is bringing together the residents of Tangmere and people living with dementia.  Singing for the Soul is a social singing group for the over 50s and people living with dementia. The group has been organised by Dementia Support volunteer and Tangmere resident – Sue Saunders, who was inspired by a community singing group in Southbourne.

After seeing how the Southbourne singing group was run and their success, I wanted to emulate something similar in my local village of Tangmere.   Everyone who comes gets fully involved and regularly attends each week; it provides company for people who were previously isolated.”

Sue and her fellow volunteers were delighted to win the Observer Community Award for Best Community Event. It was a pleasant surprise as the group is relatively new (started September 2017), but it demonstrates how valuable and well regarded it is in the local community.

The purpose of Singing for the Soul is to provide opportunities to sing and socialise for people over 50 years old, without being a formal choir.

Research into community singing groups (Canterbury Christ Church University, 2012) showed noticeable wellbeing and mental health benefits for those attending.

One attendee spoke of her experience: “I thoroughly enjoyed it; it is a very uplifting, ‘leave a smile on your face’ event.”

Another attendee said: “Gets me out to meet others who enjoy singing in a group; I really enjoy it.”

The group is also dementia friendly which fits with the work of charity – Dementia Support, which is based in Tangmere.   People with dementia have a special ability to remember songs, and music becomes a route to communication and engagement. Singing can help lift well-being during and after the session.

They meet every Monday afternoon, 2-4pm in the Tangmere Village Centre. It costs £2.50 per person to attend, with refreshments and homemade cake included.

Volunteers thanked by High Sheriff

Volunteers for local charity Dementia Support were thanked for their hard work during 2017 at a celebration attended by the West Sussex High Sheriff, Lady Emma Barnard.

The volunteers give their skills and time and support the charity’s team to provide dementia wellbeing activities at the Dementia Support Hub in Tangmere. The sessions include: singing, art, socialising, gentle exercising and befriending – all of which provide a therapeutic benefit for people living with dementia, and their families and carers.

Volunteers range from people helping with teas and coffees, co-ordinating the singing group to teaching people how to paint with watercolours. Dementia Support also works with local businesses and organisations to offer volunteering opportunities, such as providing a work placement for Fine Art students at the University of Chichester.

The West Sussex High Sheriff, Lady Emma Barnard, attended the Volunteer Thank You event with her PA and local magistrate Julia Mansergh. They were both very impressed by the vision of the charity, the dementia services that will be provided by the Hub and the dedication of the volunteers.

Lady Emma personally thanked the volunteers for their tireless work for the charity, and for providing much needed support for people living with dementia:

“What an amazing place, and what a wonderful group of people you are! It is very exciting to witness the start of this great enterprise, which will make an enormous difference to so many in West Sussex.”

Together with the volunteers’ help, Dementia Support are already reducing the isolation and loneliness felt by people living with dementia; the charity is also improving access to information and advice and increasing opportunities to improve wellbeing.

Langmead family joins campaign for better dementia services

IEP Financial Supports Dementia Charity

Chichester Festival Theatre working together with Dementia Support to improve wellbeing of people living with dementia