On Thursday Age UK’s North Leigh Singing for Fun group performed a wonderful concert of summer music in Warneford Hospital Chapel. The concert was about forty minutes long and consisted of Irish songs, church music, African songs and finished off with jazz and spirituals.
The aims of the concert were:
- To give the Age UK group the opportunity to sing in a beautiful setting with a beautiful acoustic
- To challenge the Age UK group to perform to help improve the group sound: performance helps to sharpen the focus.
- To give in-patients an opportunity to engage with live music
- To challenge stigma around mental health
I am so proud of the Age UK group because to start with it was a slightly off the wall idea ‘I know everyone, let’s go and sing at the mental health unit!’
For people with little experience of mental health, mental health units can seem disturbing places. There is concern that people will be unpredictable, behave in a disturbing way, even be violent. The reality is that on Thursday, we were pushed to identify the service users from the care staff. Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people at some point in their lives. At the end of the concert one person (a patient) said ‘I feel like a real person’ showing the importance of normalising mental health environments and keeping in-patients connected and included. Others were moved to tears by the singing, demonstrating the powerful tool music can be.
I am absolutely thrilled that this endeavour went so well. We had a good audience, the singers performed the best they ever had, and the link between hospital and community was strengthened. Someone even suggested we go back at Christmas!