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The Silver Tones, a group of dementia sufferers and carers, perform in public.

The Silver Tones, a group of dementia sufferers and carers, perform in public.

Funding secured for dementia singing clubs

Dementia Support East Sussex’s long search for fresh funding has finally been successful, securing the future for its successful singing clubs. Nick Terdre reports.

Financial support for Dementia Support East Sussex (DSES), which is now in its third year of organising interactive singing sessions for dementia sufferers, has been agreed with Worthing-based Roffey Homes, securing its future for a further 12 months at least.

Roffey Homes “are passionate about supporting small, vibrant local community projects, who may sometimes need a helping hand to fulfil their potential, and who are experiencing difficulty accessing funding,” says Cliff Slack, the DSES chair.

“And we owe great thanks to the excellent work of Rother Voluntary Action, the community group champions, who have been inspirational to us since our start,” he adds. RVA, a registered charity while DSES is not, facilitated the arrangement through its Stewardship scheme, and will administer the funds on Roffey’s behalf. Other small, unregistered charities could similarly make use of the RVA scheme, Cliff says.

19 singing clubs

Even before its funding future was agreed, DSES was busy expanding its services in response to demand. It now runs 19 singing clubs across East Sussex, the latest having started in Alfriston, Hastings and Bexhill. In July, a new club is due to hold its first session at the Age Concern centre in Hailsham.

A taster was also run recently at the ETC day centre in St Leonards, but for the first time in DSES’s history, the group has not been invited back.

Inspirational tutor Suzanne Cheal at work.

Inspirational tutor Suzanne Cheal at work.

Cliff hopes the Alfriston club will become a community hub – although it is based in a private care home, Alfriston Court, it will be open to all dementia sufferers in the area and their carers. Whether based in care homes or community venues, all the singing sessions are provided at no cost.

Singing in a group has proved highly effective in breaking down the walls of isolation imposed by dementia and drawing sufferers back into social engagement. Cliff pays tribute to Suzanne Cheal, a professional actress and the group’s main tutor, for the inspirational way she encourages dementia sufferers to express themselves.

The ambitious next step, which the funding deal will help to make possible, is a community performance. The annual concert, to be held at the Age Concern centre in Hailsham on Saturday 18 November, will be a showcase for the talents unearthed in DSES’s various clubs. Seeking smaller amounts of funding to help cover the costs of transport for such performances will be another task for Cliff.

New DSES venues
Hastings Isabel Blackman Centre, Winding Street, Hastings TN34 3AT. Next session: Tuesday 27 June, 10.30am.
Hailsham Age Concern, Charles Hunt Day Centre, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham BN27 1BG. Inaugural session: Saturday 14 July, 2.30pm.
Alfriston Alfriston Court: Sloe Lane, Polegate BN26 5UR. Next session: Tuesday 25 July, 10.30am.
Bexhill The Charter Centre, 36 London Rd, Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3JU. Next session: Monday 31 July, 10.30am.

Posted 09:31 Friday, Jun 23, 2017 In: Health Matters

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