Sing and Mingle Carers/Cared For Choir

Rona Topaz

Sing and Mingle Carers/Cared For Choir, a singing group meeting weekly at Manor Farm Day Centre, Egham. Aims and objectives are to allow carers to have respite from their caring responsibilities and to meet and sing with other carers in a supportive environment.
Cared for are welcome to join in or take part in the other activities taking place concurrently at the day centre. Funded on an ongoing basis by Spelthorne and Runnymede Borough Councils. Timescale: outgoing once weekly. Delivery dates: Fridays from 11-12pm

Description of the arts activity

A choir conducted by a professional facilitator using backing tracks and pop and jazz repertoire from the 1930's to the present day. Singers are taught by ear and provided with lyric sheets. Harmonies and counterpoint also taught by ear. There is a core of 5 or 6 regular members and others have dropped in and out according to their availability. Quarterly concerts are given on the premises as well as ad hoc in the community.

Details of the project participants

The target for the choir is aimed at carers in the boroughs of Runnymeade and Spelthorne.  Referrals are made via the local Carer's Support project, Carers UK, and Manor Farm itself. There will also be an advertising campaign during Carers week.

Project management

The project is managed by the facilitator, Rona Topaz, overseen by Catherine Learmonth at Spelthorne Borough Council. Rona Topaz is responsible for choosing repertoire, teaching it to the group, and reporting on any safeguarding issues that arise. She is also responsible for the quality control of the project, and for organising regular concerts within Manor Farm. Catherine is responsible for funding as well as any extraneous issues that arise, as well as overseeing any concerts within the community. Participants are not charged to take part, and any consent to photos, recording etc is given verbally as all participants are adults of sound mind.

Evaluation methods and findings

One participant, AB, was a professional dancer and actress in the 1960's. Now 85 and suffering with bronchial issues, she says that the opportunity to perform regularly is like a "lifeline" for her-she doesn't know what she would do without the choir in her life. Another participant, SB, has this to say about the choir: "our experience is so enjoyable and plays a huge part in helping us to sustain our role as carers". She goes on to say the choir is a "cathartic and therapeutic experience that promotes our well being and enjoyment". Evaluation: No formal evaluation is requested but such comments are freely offered. We have also performed on a quarterly basis at Manor Farm and receive informal feedback as a result. The choir was initiated by Arts Partnership Surrey, a strategic alliance of 9 local authorities and trusts representing the boroughs, districts and county councils in Surrey, of which Spelthorne and Runnymede are members.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England