The Golden-Oldies charity is to reintroduce its Sing & Smile daytime singalongs across England and Wales.
Golden-Oldies was founded by respected musician and choir leader Grenville Jones, originally from Swindon, in 2007, and uses the community singing to promote physical and mental wellbeing.
It was forced to close its daytime singalongs 16 months ago because of lockdown.
Mr Jones said: “I wanted to grab the atmosphere of fun and friendship and bring it to older isolated people through daytime ‘singalongs’ of the memory-evoking hits of the 60s and onwards.”
Mr Jones led the first four sessions in and around Bath and Bristol in 2008 and is always quick to point out that his charity is definitely about formal choral singing.
“Goldies gives older isolated people something to look forward to, a chance to get out, make new friends and singalong to those popular hits of the past,” he said.
From those beginnings, and with Sir Cliff Richard as Patron, the work of the charity has grown across England and Wales.
In March of last year, before lockdown, there were over 200 daytime fun singalong Goldies sessions taking place in libraries, community rooms and church halls, led by74 dedicated locally-based session leaders.
Those attending the sessions ware older people, many living in community housing, adults with learning difficulties and people living with dementia – everyone is welcome at a Goldies session.
Over the years the charity has received support from many philanthropic trusts, local authorities, organisations and the National Lottery in both England and Wales. There has also been considerable media coverage of Goldies over the years and throughout last year ITV soap Emmerdale featured a Goldies session during its commercial breaks, made possible with the support of the People’s Postcode Lottery Community Fund.
Academic studies have endorsed the benefits that the Golden-Oldies Charity brings to isolated people.
It has also worked with primary schools in recent years with support from the Lottery Heritage Fund, and in 2018 received the accolade of winning the Education Category of the National Lottery Awards – a project based on the music of the First World War.
When forced by covid to close all sessions, Goldies looked to the internet, Facebook and YouTube to bring its fun sessions to people in their homes. Popular Wales-based leaders Rachel Parry and Cheryl Davies lead the twice-weekly sessions under the www.goldieslive.com banner, with people joining from their homes across the United Kingdom. These will continue through to next spring.
Future plans for the charity include a second charity Shop in Cardiff and the introduction of the work of the charity with older people in Scotland.
The Charity is always looking to recruit new session leaders across the UK and to hear from organisations who work with older isolated people. The website - www.golden-oldies.org.uk - is the starting point, with contact details and helpful information.