A new Bolton singing group, aimed specifically for people living with dementia and their carers, has given joy to its participants thanks to the power of music.
The Salvation Army’s Singing by Heart programme takes place on the first Thursday of every month at the Bolton Citadel Corps located on St George’s Road.
‘A glad heart makes a cheerful face’ is the motto of the singing group as people living with dementia can often feel vulnerable and isolated, whilst their carers can feel in need of reassurance and support.
John, 80, is living with dementia and attends the Singing by Heart programme along with his wife and carer Shirley, 81. Shirley said: “I thought it might benefit John to come along to Singing by Heart, getting involved in groups does make things easier, for both of us.
“Our worlds have changed completely, and not through choice, through necessity. You suddenly find yourself doing the job you’re not trained for so it is nice to meet different people and you can learn a lot from others.”
Major Liliane Westlake who runs the Singing by Heart programme at Bolton Citadel Corps said: ‘It’s wonderful to see people sharing in the Singing by Heart programme with us and to see the joy on their faces as they sing the old familiar songs.
“With the rise of people being diagnosed as living with dementia we look forward to this group growing in the months ahead and are pleased to utilise our building and facilities to support those living with dementia and their carers”.
Songs sang during the Singing by Heart sessions include ‘This Little Light Of Mine’ and ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ as well as popular songs ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Rock Around The Clock’ with the session culminating with ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.
The ‘Singing by Heart’ session takes the form of a free drop-in from 11:30am – 1pm and includes a light lunch and welcomes anyone living with dementia and their carers. The next session takes place on Thursday, May 2.
The Alzheimer’s Society estimate that there are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this number is predicted to increase to over 1 million by 2025. On learning this, The Salvation Army created the ‘Singing by Heart’ programme to provide a way for those living with dementia to recall happy memories from their past.
By providing the ‘Singing by Heart’ programme, the Bolton Citadel Corps enables a relaxing social activity that offers a safe place for participants to enjoy themselves and revisit long lost memories whilst also allowing carers to have an opportunity to socialise and develop a support network of other people in similar situations. The initiative also helps give access to a meaningful worship experience.