Singalong South East Project Report 2017

Singalong South East

We applied for £10,000 to work with 10 Care Homes. We gratefully received £2,500 to work with Community Groups. We agreed with Berkshire Community Foundation that we would work with 3 groups, though the funding did not cover all our costs. It has been very interesting getting to know the voluntary sector in Berkshire, and have benefitted from this networking.


In October 2016, we contacted 12 community groups, and provided demonstrations at 6 of them (first on the list below):

  • Rehability, Learning Disability Home in Reading
  • Reading Council over 50s lunch clubs
    • Whitley Wood Community Centre & Southcote Community Centre
  • Rainbow Community Centre
  • Stroke Association
  • Parkinson’s UK Reading & District Branch
  • COATs (Crowthorne Old Age to Teen Society)
  • Berkshire Age Concern
  • Amersham Road Wednesday Club, Caversham
  • Neighbourhood Co-ordinator for Older People’s Services in Reading
  • Fair close day centre (Age Concern), Newbury
  • WADE Day Centre

Of these only 2 were suitable/returned our calls.

  • Over 50s lunch clubs at Whitley Wood Community Centre
  • Wokingham Community, based at The Rainbow Centre including Alexandra Place & Stevens Court.

It was agreed with Berkshire Community Foundation that we could work with one Care Home to meet our target of 3 groups.

  • Lakeside Care Home in Reading was recruited

Over 60 people directly benefited from this project.

Additional fundraising

Unfortunately none of these groups could afford to pay the amount that we had budgeted for at the outset of this project. To meet the shortfall we visited 3 local Rotary Groups to give a talk and request funding. This considerably delayed the start of the project, as it took time to organise the talks and wait for a decision from the funding committees.


We visited each singing group 4 times to provide a demonstration, staff training, additional support session & evaluation.

Issues during the project

Sadly Rose Green who was running the Wokingham group, passed away during the project. We have provided additional training and support for her team. All figures below exclude this third group.

The husband of the Activity Co-ordinator at Lakeside Care Home was very ill during the project and she took time off to care for him. This meant that she has not been able to run as many sessions as planned since the initial training in March 2017.

Pip Collings, the project manager from Sing for your Life, broke her wrist in February and was unable to drive for 6 weeks. This delayed the recruitment of the Care Home. The Rainbow Centre, Wokingham

Whitley Wood Community Centre

Feedback from Whitley Wood co-ordinator

It’s encouraged people to talk more about their interests and their past, for example, what music they enjoyed listening to when they were younger. There have also been a few laughs when we tried new songs and found we couldn’t sing them very well.


The main challenge has been that our group of users still consider themselves to be very young in heart and mind, even though some are in their nineties, and the majority found the song selection to be too old for them. The volunteers were also reluctant to sing with the group, especially as they again found the songs too old and didn’t know a lot of them. We have recommended lots of songs to Sing for your Life for them to record in the future.

Unintended outcomes

We are looking into lending the box out to different groups, such as sheltered housing units

Future benefits

We will continue to use the box at the Whitley Wood group, we find that short sessions work best and tying it in to a specific event, for example a party works well. We will also lend the box out to other groups with a different client group who would benefit, for example, groups supporting individuals with dementia.

Participants feedback

I always join in the singing, everybody should sing.

I clear the room with my singing, so prefer to listen.

I do enjoy the singing, it is definitely worth having.

One of the volunteers said she found the equipment a bit difficult to use. We are planning to replace the Music Box with a new, tablet based prototype which is simpler to use.

Feedback from Activity Co-ordinator at Lakeside Care Home

The grant has made a big difference to Lakeside and means we can have an activity we would never have been able to afford alone. We now also have some family members who wish to run sessions with us.


The challenges were getting the equipment working (as we mislaid a cable). We have also found it difficult to find the time to run the sessions. This is due to the personal circumstances of the Activity Co-ordinator.

Unintended consequences

The funding has made a difference to the home as it has bought many residents together from different areas of the home through their great love of music.

Future benefits

We will continue to use the Music Box on a regular and ongoing basis; we have added this to our monthly calender as an activity for all to share.

We are also able to show-case pictures of the Box and the residents enjoying it on Social Media for their families to witness.

Pip has been extremely helpful during the whole process, so Thank You

We are asking the residents for their favourite songs so we can ask Sing for your Life to record them and add them to our machine.

Residents feedback

The singing made me feel good, plus seeing all the girls (staff) joining in.

I loved it, it made me feel happy and everyone joins in.

I enjoyed it, I love singing, I would recommend it for other care homes - Absolutely!


This has been a challenging project. We have struggled to recruit 3 Community Groups. The main reasons are:

  • Lack of money – we require participants to contribute £300 to the project.
  • Lack of time – some have a full programme of activities, or meet infrequently, and cannot commit to singing once a fortnight.
  • Wrong demographic – Some groups have younger members, who prefer more modern songs.
  • Lack of groups – Many Day Centres and Community Groups have closed due to funding cuts.
  • We have also had some very sad issues with two of our project leaders. One passed away during the project. The husband of the Activity Co-ordinator at Lakeside has been very ill and she has had to take time off work to care for him.

It is interesting to compare this project with a similar one we are running in Suffolk Care Homes, where we have had very few problems. It is difficult to generalise from such a small project, but it does seem that Berkshire is a particularly difficult place to work. This could be due to the fragmented nature of the local authorities, which means that community support teams are very small and funds for community groups have to be split 6 ways.


To address these issues, we recommend that community projects are given sufficient time to overcome any problems and support community groups. A year to run this project would have been preferable.

Given the problems we had recruiting community groups at the beginning of this project, and the limited time they have to provide singing sessions within their programme of activities, this may not be the best group to target in future.


We suggest that it may be more cost effective to target Care Homes with any future funding, who could use the Music Box every day if they choose.


Sing for your Life (South East Ltd) is very grateful for the funding they received for this project from:

  • Berkshire Community Foundation
  • Reading Martins Rotary Club
  • Wokingham Rotary Club
  • Reading Maiden Erlegh Rotary club