Musical Group Still Singing Thanks To Coronavirus Grant

A CORONAVIRUS fund grant will help a popular Salisbury singing group for people with lung conditions to keep meeting online.

Music For Wellbeing has been awarded £4,900 from the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund to continue its Sing and Breathe Wiltshire sessions. The fund has raised more than £1.1 million and distributed £925,000 through 200 grants to groups tackling the fallout from the pandemic.

The group, founded in 2016, runs groups in Salisbury and Amesbury for people with long-term lung illnesses, such as asthma dementia and learning difficulties in partnership with Salisbury Medical Practice. It offers six-week introductory courses and then inclusion in the weekly singing groups.

The sessions help members’ breathing capability as well as provide a chance to socialise. “People with lung health conditions not only experience reduced quality of life because they often struggle to manage their breath, but also social isolation because of this. This can lead to mental health issues, loneliness and depression,” said co-director Liv McLennan.

Ms McLennan, who is also one of the group’s singing leaders, said the group was forced to switch its sessions online in April. She added: “When covid closed all the community spaces, I had initially underestimated how long we would need to be in lockdown for. I thought we would be back doing face to face singing fairly quickly.

“However, once the gravity of the situation became apparent, we piloted online singing sessions, then transferred the introductory courses online too. Many of our singers were also shielding, so it became a bit of a lifeline for them during the stricter lockdown period.”

Group member Rosemary attended a course earlier in the year and is now a regular singer at the weekly session. “The course has given me the chance to sing again with others,” she said.

“Singing for me is like the breath of life and the support Liv gives improves both breathing and singing. I have had almost no asthma attacks since starting and therefore my COPD is much improved. Getting together with others is really supportive and enjoyable especially during shielding.”

The grant will help cover the cost of group facilitators and more publicity. “We are really grateful for the grant,” said Ms McLennan, who specialises in music and movement with people with dementia and respiratory conditions.

Sing and Breathe Wiltshire will run online via Zoom until Easter 2021, providing weekly online singing sessions and two six-week introductory courses to singing for lung health. “If you have never used Zoom before, Music for Wellbeing can help you to access it, so don’t put off taking part due to technology,” said Ms McLennan.

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