The ‘Out of the box Choir’ concept has emerged from a pilot project at in a medium secure unit (River House, Beckenham, London Borough of Bromley) that enabled a mixed group of inpatients, staff, and volunteers from the wider community to develop their own singing workshops and performances.
This work demonstrated that the concept could be developed into a project that could be replicated in other areas. The project focused on empowering people suffering exclusion and social isolation, facilitating a series of practical workshops based on the Mind and Soul model the basis of which is weekly singing workshops, where people are not defined by their diagnosis or mental health experiences but all subscribe to the ethos that supports people to take part in the core function of the choir.
To get the wellbeing aspects of group singing into hard to reach or out of reach communities. To counter the social isolation and exclusion from wider communities experienced by individuals in these situation. Doing this by taking part in everyday activities like working on songs with the others then having a chat and a cup of tea with a volunteer from the local community after the workshop.
The project aims to get the wellbeing aspects of group singing into hard to reach or out of reach communities, particularly in mental health settings. It will do this by targeting organisations that support these communities and work with those organisations to set up singing groups that are tailored to the client group. Included in the model is the involvement of people from the local communities who can learn about the talents and skills of the people that they share the groups with.
The project provides mentoring, leadership and organisational support to enable the choir or singing group to continue and evolve unique features. The aim is also for the content of the workshops to reflect the local context.
The model on which the project is based attracts members from different walks of life, there would be no audition process to joining a choir, it is the love of singing that encourages people to join. Choir members should not aware of other people’s backgrounds – unless they wish to share that information.
Healthier and more active people and communities
There is evidence from the research that was carried out by a choir member, with continual annual evaluation of the choir that members involved in the choir, their wellbeing improves when attending, which in turn enables them to carry out and be part of the local community.