MEET SOME OF OUR VOLUNTEERS

LISA (A volunteer since 2014, and now our paid Group Co-Ordinator)

Welcome to our brand new shiny website. Here’s a little explanation about how I became involved with “Havering Singing For The Brain 2020”.

I have a personal connection with the devastating illness that is Dementia. My father sadly passed away in 2012 after approximately six years of gradual decline, in which I 
saw him revert back to a childlike state. It is a truly awful illness and affects everyone in the family. There wasn’t as much awareness and help when we needed it back then, but we did what we could to ensure my dad was happy and my mum able to cope. There were many heartbreaking times and also some funny ones.

I often danced with Dad around the coffee table in their little lounge and we sang Christmas carols in the height of Summer!!! The icing on the cake was when on one occasion I kissed him goodbye and Dad announced that I shouldn’t go yet as Colonel Gaddaffi was coming to tea!! We laughed and we cried..... You have to 😓😊.

We did recognise music as a common theme in the illness. Dad would recite all the lyrics to old songs with gusto but didn’t know what day it was or how to clean his teeth. He had vascular dementia which meant his mobility wasn’t the best and he couldn’t walk very far in the later years. What was amazing was how he could still dance. Oh how I wish the Singing for the Brain groups had been there for him and us to enjoy.

In early 2014 I joined the Alzheimer’s Society’s “Singing for the Brain” groups as a volunteer after much coaxing from my wonderful mum who had already enrolled. Having been through the dementia journey with my father I wasn’t sure at first if it was something I could do but decided to give it a go. I can honestly say it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done and I’ve never looked back.  I completely understand and empathise with all of those currently going through it. I get such satisfaction from seeing our members become animated with the music. The transformation in them is amazing and the atmosphere is joyous and happy.

For the next five years I volunteered whenever I could alongside other paid jobs then in 2019 I became employed with the Alzheimer’s Society. I took on a temporary paid position to manage and run the clubs till the end of January 2020. Sadly the Society withdrew its funding, and it became necessary to transition the group to a self funding private concern. We could not let such a brilliant service come to a halt when we see at every session what a difference it makes to the lives of the service users. Thus, Havering Singing For The Brain 2020 (or HS4B for short!) was born.

So we’re now in February 2020, and I am effectively unemployed. I decided I would try to continue as a volunteer once more, whilst searching for a suitable part-time job that would hopefully allow me to stay on with the groups that I love so much. I was about to attend an interview when to my delight I was offered a small salary to continue to run HS4B. I’m forever thankful that I can continue to work alongside such a dedicated team of volunteers.

Then the pandemic hit and I’ve never been on the phone or Facebook so much trying to keep people connected! We’ve had catch-ups in the local park, small garden gatherings, online video sessions and a thankful short-lived return to clubs in September.  We’ve sadly lost some very dear friends along the way, but our lives are enriched for having known them. 

I’m now looking forward to getting Havering Singing For The Brain back to business and seeing all those happy faces once more. 

GEORGE  

Hi,

My first Voluntary job was many moons ago, working on a long-term Men's ward of a local Mental Health hospital. That was back in the mid-70s.

From there I worked for Mind for a good while, then for a charity that supported 'problem' youngsters.

In the early 80s I found a charity that gave support to people with a range of Anxiety Disorders and OCD, and was there for many years, as both a Volunteer and a paid development worker, until the charity had to close due to lack of government funding.

Within this time I went to University as a mature student, and after four years of hard slog, attained a Degree in Psychology (with Hons) I also have certified training in Cognitive Behavioural Psychology and Life Coaching.

Within my career in the voluntary sector, I have undertaken many hours of one-to-one counselling, constructed and facilitated a number of therapeutic Groups / Workshops, trained both Volunteers and professionals in self-help support skills, and assisted voluntary organizations giving support to people affected by a range of mental health problems, to set up and run local self-help groups, helplines. Etc.

I have also written two practical self-help booklets to help people to help themselves overcome Anxiety Conditions and lack of Self-Confidence.

When the Anxiety charity I spent many years with had to close, I went back into non-charity work and in 2009, secured a position in the City, as a Facilities Administrator for a large security company.

I retired from there in 2016 and having lots of time on my hands, I began to look for local charity work as a Volunteer. That is how I found HSFTB2020, and the bonus was - the work allowed me to fulfil my love of making music (I play Guitar) and singing. 

So! As a Volunteer, my current roles are:  Leading the group and  solo singing  sessions;  Co-Ordinating the music sessions provided by our  professional singers;  The Administration of our Facebook Page and this Website - which I recently build - and generally helping out at the weekly groups  

It has been a wonderful journey thus far, and I am looking forward to many more years of helping to provide a valuable and much-needed service to people with Dementia and their Carers. .

 

CAROL 

My main role as a Volunteer has been assisting with the local advertising and promotion of the groups. 

Having attended groups for many years with my husband Ken,  it  became like a second family to us. 

Ken loved the groups and used to sing the opening - welcome - song, accompanies by the Guitarist.   

The groups are so beneficial and enjoyable  for both Dementia suffers and their Carers.  There is always someone to talk to about any problems and advice is always available.

We made many friends over the years, and even though Ken has now passed, I still attend the groups and as a Volunteer, continue to  give support to others.  

The groups offer a new lease of life to both newly diagnosed sufferers and Carers, who may feel  there is no help out there.   Please come along if you can, It is life changing.

DEBBIE

I first started volunteering at lunch clubs for people with dementia in 2013 and later joined Singing for the Brain in 2017.

I wanted to help because my dear dad was diagnosed with dementia not long before he passed away in 2010. He loved chatting to people, music, and tea and cake so the clubs would have been right up his street! 

I do anything that needs doing! Every session is different but usually that means setting up the tables and chairs and instruments, cleaning, making endless cups of tea and coffee and clearing up. What I enjoy the most though is chatting to the members, making new members feel welcome and encouraging anyone who wants to, to join in with the music, singing and dancing.

It's wonderful to see the pleasure the members get from the sessions. Not just from the music, but also from sharing their experiences and knowledge, and the friendships they make. It really is like one big extended family and it's a privilege to be part of it. 

HELEN

I first started volunteering in 2012, where I first met Ben and his lovely late wife Janet, Ben and Janet attended YPDG, which was run By our lovely friend Maggy Brennan, this was a Thursday club at Alma Avenue.

I also volunteered at a Tuesday Group where I first met our dear friend Steve Williams in the same year.

I continued to volunteer while I was working for Mark's and Spencer's, until Rose Salmon, who run the clubs on behalf of Age concern Havering, asked me if I would like to take up a paid post as a companion support worker.

I had met and looked after so many lovely people at both of these groups that I decided I would take up the post.

I worked for age concern havering and continued working for them after they changed their name to Tapestry.

I looked after and sat with many lovely ladies, I will never forget them.

After a few years I decided maybe this wasn't for me, very heartbreaking to lose some lovely people, so I left Tapestry late 2016

But as soon as I left I was asked to stay on privately by ladies relative, and I went on to care for her for 2 years, she was such a lovely lady. And will never be forgotten.

After she passed I didn't want to start with another person.

Then when my volunteer friends told me about a new club starting in Romford I decided to volunteer again which I did for over 2 years until they closed at the start of lockdown.

I am happy to be part of HSFB2020, we have a lovely team of volunteers. We all love what we do. And I Hope I can be part of the team for many years to come xx

RITA

My late husband, Derek, and I joined Singing for the Brain 6 years ago.  We enjoyed the entertainment and the social activities, and we gained a lot of information not available elsewhere and made many friends.  The volunteers were always there to help us with any problems or questions.  SFTB became very much part of our lives, and we enjoyed many social trips out with the group visiting places of interest, theatre trips and boat trips.  As a carer I did not feel alone in my caring role and the group gave me peace of mind on many occasions.  Derek passed away near the end of 2020, and I did not hesitate to enrol as a volunteer, and I help out in any way I can.  Can't thank the group enough for the enjoyment and advice given since joining the weekly sessions.

IRENE

Hello everyone I am very new to this group as a volunteer, only been helping out for just over a month.

I started my volunteering in 2010 at the Queen’s Hospital Romford on the oncology ward, I would help nurses with bed baths, feeding and talking to patients who were lonely because they had no visitors. I did this for 5 years and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society as a side by side companion in February this year. The gentleman I see actually attended the Monday Club which I took him to before the first lockdown. I have had a personal connection with Dementia, my Mother in Law suffered for 11 years, 7 of which we looked after her at home. My mum had early stages and many other underlying health problems. I found out about singing for the brain and I would take her every week which she absolutely loved. It’s amazing how music makes people suffering with this terrible disease come alive! After loosing my mum 4 years ago I decided I wanted to give something back and what better way than helping out with this lovely friendly group on a Thursday 

LINDA

Hi everyone .. I'm a new recruit to the La Salette volunteer team. I did one session before the first lockdown and have carried on since restrictions were lifted. There's a lovely atmosphere at the club and everyone is friendly and welcoming. My work background is Education Admin, and I've been retired for over three years. I was a volunteer ambassador for Richard House Children's Hospice a few years ago.

I saw an article by George on Facebook, it caught my interest, so I asked if volunteers were needed. I have no experience of working with old people or dementia sufferers but enjoy being able to help in some small way. Long may these groups prosper

CHRIS

I am retired and began volunteering for the dementia groups in approx 2018.

I mainly work in the kitchen preparing refreshments etc - I don't dance as I have two left feet!!!!

PAM

Hello, my name is Pam, l retired several years ago after working many happy years for the London Borough of Havering at a day centre for frail elderly adults and people with dementia.

I heard about Havering Singing For The Brain via Facebook and started as a volunteer in Feb 2020.

I'm so happy to be part of this dedicated team, l help prepare the hall for when people arrive and help provide a welcoming atmosphere to all.

I enjoy chatting to people and their carers, and joining in sing-a-longs etc.

It's very rewarding to see those who attend having a good time and looking forward to coming again. 

MYRA

I have been a volunteer with SFTB2020 for over 8 years now, and do thoroughly recommend it. Having myself been a carer for a number of years before I lost my husband to dementia.

I have obviously seen first hand what a remarkable and positive difference it makes to a person who has this awful condition when music and singing awake parts of their memory which previously had been in limbo.    

For carers, the session provides some light relief and a chance to make friends, chat, share ideas with other carers. Caring is a lonely business. Please do come and join us.

 

Vivien - Volunteer

After I retired from paid work I was asked if I would like to be involved in establishing Singing for the Brain Groups in Havering. With a long time background in mental health services and a long time hobby interest in music (particularly singing) it was an obvious route for me to take. That was 9 years ago now and, until Covid arrived, was a very rewarding way to spend my free time. I have met some super people and have enjoyed being around for anyone who might need some support or information .

 

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