August for all Ages

Summer always feels like a good time to take a breath, take stock and get ready for the rest of the year. So, what’s been going on recently at The Together Project? And what do we have planned for our next chapter?

Ola and Orla at Barchester Westgate House Care Home, Forest Gate, London

Ola and Orla at Barchester Westgate House Care Home, Forest Gate, London

Funding for the future

We’re thrilled that the National Lottery Community Fund recently awarded us funding so we can share Songs & Smiles with even more people who need our support. The funding will make an enormous difference, enabling us to work with older people’s residences across north east London and to grow our team.

Spurred on by this great news, there’s lots going on behind the scenes at The Together Project HQ. We’re on a mission to make Songs & Smiles available in other parts of London and the rest of the country. Through our partnership with Hallmark Care Homes, we’re already bringing music, fun and friendship to their care homes across England.

We’ll also be launching our first session in sheltered housing accommodation next month. This is an important new audience for us as we believe a weekly intergenerational singalong could make a huge difference to residents who, although still enjoying their independence, might feel isolated and lonely.

And we’re delighted to be taking part in BBC Music Day (#BBCMusicDay) in September, which is supporting the Music For Dementia 2020 campaign to bring music to everyone in the UK living with the condition by next year. Watch this space...

Happy children, happy residents

Every week, we see our Songs & Smiles sessions have a transformative effect on participants – from babies of a few weeks through to our oldest participant who’s 104. Many residents have told us it’s the highlight of their week, and their family members have commented on how important the sessions are to them. We recently learnt that one of our regulars at Aspray House Care Home gets her nails done by a carer every Monday morning in time for when the children and parents come, because it’s such an important part of her week.

The sessions can be extremely rewarding for parents too. Deana, who attends the sessions with her daughter Isabella, told us, “Knowing we can be a part of making someone else’s day happier makes us very happy. It’s not only a fantastic idea and amazing for everyone who is involved, it’s actually super fun and allows you to connect with your child while helping your local community and the people within it.”

Our sessions have so many benefits for older participants – lifting their mood, reducing loneliness and even improving cognitive and motor skills. In fact, music therapy is now part of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)’s recommendations for dementia care.

I have witnessed Songs & Smiles sessions where people with dementia seem to forget themselves and have so much fun, The children love it and parents look so proud!
— Jo Nichols, Manager at Aspray House Care Home, where Songs & Smiles has been running for over a year

#AllAgesAugust

Finally, we’re supporting the United for All Ages #AllAgesAugust campaign this month, which aims to unite generations and bring Britain together. It is promoting the benefits of intergenerational interaction through art, sport, music and other activities.

As Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages, explains, “Hundreds of activities around the UK will enable people of all ages to have fun together and share experiences during the 31 days of August. These common bonds will also help tackle loneliness, isolation and ageism in Britain.”

We hope this campaign inspires people to think about how they can involve more multi-age mixing in their lives. With the bank holiday weekend coming up, why not get all the different generations of your family together for a picnic, a museum visit or a cinema trip? You can search #AllAgesAugust on Twitter to find weekly challenges and events and activities near you.

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Louise GouldenComment