Havering Singing for the Brain fears the effects of isolation

A singing group for people with dementia and their caregivers is preparing to reopen this month.

Havering Singing for the Brain is hoping to hold its first session since December on June 23, following what organizers called a “difficult time” for their members.


Ken Clarke and volunteer Pamela Marshall jiving in the middle of the circle (before Covid-19)
– Credit: Havering Singing for the Brain

Founder Ben Hawley told this newspaper: “I am concerned that those diagnosed and their caregivers do not know what to do.

“Isolation is the worst thing for people with dementia, you really have to get them out.

“Our sessions give caregivers a break and an opportunity to meet like-minded people.”


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Ben, who has helped lead the group since 2019, lost his wife Janet to dementia two years ago at age 72.

He explained that meetings with the Alzheimer Society, which funded Havering Singing for the Brain before the group went independent in 2020, supported him after his diagnosis.

“Over the years, I have built up a lot of support,” he said.

“When she died I was absolutely devastated – I was lost and would have collapsed without the support of the groups.”


Margaret Newbon and her daughter Annie

Margaret Newbon and her daughter Annie enjoying sessions late last year
– Credit: Havering Singing for the Brain

Group organizer Lisa Clifton agreed that the group’s support offered a lifeline for people with dementia and their families.

She said: “People have been calling me since January to ask when we are going to reopen.

“We are all trying to get the sessions back on track. ”

Lisa, who began volunteering after her father Fred died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, took on a paid role with the group last year, calling members during the lockdown and verifying that they had everything they needed.

“I just saw if anyone needed anything and let people know that I could help them with stuff,” she explained.


Dee Watts standing with volunteers Steve Williams and Lisa Clifton (before Covid-19)

Dee Watts standing with volunteers Steve Williams and Lisa Clifton (before Covid-19)
– Credit: Havering Singing for the Brain

When clients sadly passed away, Lisa helped pass on their funeral details and video links to other members.

“It really helped with the shutdown,” she added.

Prior to the lockdown, Havering Singing for the Brain used to hold three sessions per week in different parts of the Borough, but right now only one will resume.

Lisa pointed out that the group needed funding for the other two sites, to run the bands and provide refreshments for people with dementia and their caregivers.

Donations can be made here: gogetfunding.com/socialmusic-groups-for-people-with-dementia-and-their-carers/

Those interested in joining Havering Singing for the Brain can find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/haveringsingingforthebrain2020/

About Raymond Lang

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