Warden’s Charitable Trust

ending loneliness in rural communities

Monthly music session at the Warden’s Charitable Trust

Residential, recreational and arts-based facilities for people with disabilities.

People are living longer but old age and good health don’t necessarily go hand in hand, which can cause problems if you live in a rural area.

It’s an autumn afternoon, grey clouds are billowing across the cliff tops, the sea is flecked with white horses and it looks like there’s a coastal squall in the offing.

This is the Suffolk coast in its picture- book off-season glory, looking as bleak, wild, deserted and beautiful as it gets.

Yet today more than 20 older people have gathered at this isolated and stunning spot in Sizewell, not for the views but to sing their cares away at the Warden’s Charitable Trust.

It’s a special monthly music session organised for people living with dementia and their carers and they’ve come from Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Saxmundham, Yoxford and various scattered villages in between.

Centre Manager, Bev Levett has been running these afternoons for some months now and says the response has been wonderful. “Not only have the numbers been growing but a whole host of musicians have volunteered and turned up to help.

Bev says that for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, music and singing has a really positive transformative effect. It’s also an opportunity for their carers, who are often very isolated to get out and socialise.

Vicky Hutchinson, Dementia Community Development Officer for Age UK who helps organise these sessions said, “Music can trigger old memories so even for people who cannot contribute very much they can still sing songs and remember all the words.

The afternoon includes an incredible repertoire of favourite songs – You Are My Sunshine, Moon River, Streets of London – and although there are numerous song sheets hardly anyone needs them.

As each song starts people’s faces light up, they sing, they smile and some even get up and dance around the room making contact with people they might not otherwise be able to communicate with.

Geoff Smith from Aldeburgh supports the group; his wife Margaret had Alzheimer’s before she died. “It’s so nice to see people come out and enjoy themselves. I know what it is to care for someone with dementia and it’s so important that sessions like this exist because they make such a difference.”

Sue Bateman from Saxmundham also supports the group as a former carer – both her parents had dementia. “I came here because Vicky used to support both my parents. I cannot sing – I have a voice like a foghorn – but it’s so welcoming and informal and it’s a really enjoyable two hours.”

The “Sing Your Cares Away” afternoon sessions have received funding from Suffolk Community Foundation’s Leiston and Sizewell Community Benefit Fund. A grant was given in October 2015.

Niki Rousseau, Community Liaison Officer for Sizewell B said: “The panel voted unanimously to provide funding to the Warden’s Charitable Trust in Sizewell to host activity days for people affected by dementia, their families and carers.
“A grant of £4,928 was given for 16 workshops to provide vital support and interaction for local people who are often faced with social isolation.”

The Warden’s Centre, originally a private museum, was gifted by Richard and Elspeth Gimson to the Warden’s Charitable Trust and is used by disability groups from across the UK and Suffolk but it is also a hub for local people as well.

Singing at the Warden’s Charitable Trust

Duetting at the Warden’s Charitable Trust

In addition to singing sessions, Bev also works with social services and older people and has a bath day on Wednesdays for up to 12 people.

Bev said “I started doing this because there are so many people locally who are not able to get in and out of the bath and we have the facilities. People come from Badingham, Wickham Market, Leiston, Saxmundham and Aldeburgh. Some have not had a bath for years.”

“Thanks to a grant from Suffolk Community Foundation they were able to purchase a second hoist and employ another carer to help accommodate more people. It makes such a difference to have a bath and have a hair wash for these people and it helps in many ways. Suffolk Community Foundation has also helped towards the cost of transport on the day too.”

With the help of ActivLives, Bev has also introduced sessions which involve various wheelchair games to help with mobility and four times a year they have fish and chips together, which is well attended. They provide entertainment and everyone really enjoys themselves.

Ladies being looked after at the Warden’s Charitable Trust

Bathing at the Warden’s Charitable Trust

The panel voted unanimously to provide funding to the Warden’s Charitable Trust in Sizewell to host activity days for people affected by dementia, their families and carers.

A grant was given to fund 16 workshops providing vital support and interaction for local people who are often faced with social isolation.

Niki Rousseau

Community Liaison Officer, Sizewell B

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