Please Give Your Support to Local Community Projects in Suffolk.
The Coronavirus health pandemic we face is a once in a generation event for us all and no-one could have fully prepared for this but there are things that we can do. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that we can continue to support people who are vulnerable and will be very badly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Rogues Shanty Chorus, from the Voice cLoud, is a local charity which aims to encourage interest in Suffolk’s unique coastal, cultural and musical heritage by exploring folk music and its associated traditions created by fishing communities. The project holds music sessions for parents of children in their early years, extra-curricular music workshops for young people, and a choir for local people.
Although unable to meet as many of their members are within the vulnerable criteria, the group were determined that those who viewed the choir as a lifeline wouldn’t go without. Last week, they hosted the first of their singalongs over Facebook live, with over 4000 people watching and joining in with the singing from home, whilst keeping the banter and friendships alive in the chat throughout.
They have been using a mixture of Facebook live features and online conferencing programmes with a private invite. This approach allows for smaller online gatherings where the group can try and make more specific progress; focussing on songs and activities that they have already learned and just want to brush up on.
In light of recent government announcements, they have further modified their approach to the broadcasts by having the workshop leaders broadcast from their own home and not together or via conferencing in order to allow the leaders to input one by one. As a result of this, the Voice cLoud has been approached by other local organisations to see if they can facilitate other communities or social groups with specific support or health needs (such as dementia). They are now exploring how they can use this technology to disseminate more local appropriate advice and guidance (ie: using a dementia champion to offer guidance on what help carers can access to help them in isolation, etc).
Stephen Amer, Project Co-Ordinator said: “We started the online sessions to see how music could bring us together when we can’t be together.
Expanding on the benefits the project can bring at this difficult time, Stephen continued: “In a time where we're being asked to isolate, the sense of community that we believe the project has achieved feels even more vital. If we can stay connected in some way, then these social interactions will be good for our health in a time when health and wellbeing is likely to be a real challenge to achieve a balance of. The sessions can also remind us that we’re not in this alone and we suspect that online virtual sessions may even provide some unexpected benefits that we can’t explore in standard rehearsals.”
Highlighting the importance of the project and their inventive ways of working, one member told us: “I’m so thankful to the Rogue Shanty Chorus for all their efforts to keep us engaged and sane in these trying times. My Husband is on a minimum 12-week lockdown as a transplant recipient so listening to the fun produced by Paul, Stephen and Andy and other group members is so helpful, it keeps us afloat.”
John Hume, CEO of People’s Heath Trust which distributes money raised by The Health Lottery money said: “This is a difficult time for everyone, but it is especially difficult for those who are having to isolate as a result of being truly at risk. The work being done by this project encapsulates the spirit and dedication that we will need to get through this together.
“Seeing the ingenuity of this project has been inspiring and their commitment to their members has remained as steadfast as ever in the face of a pandemic out of their control. Now, more than ever, these projects need our support and the only way we can continue to do this is with your help. If you are an existing Health Lottery customer, I can only thank you for your continued support, and if you’re new to this please consider supporting local charities by playing The Health Lottery.”
Money raised by Health Lottery East is continuing to support local projects and has raised over £9million in funds to support 216 projects to date in the region.
Through the money raised by the Health Lottery, we have supported disabled young people and adults, older people, people with autism and children and adults living in poverty. All of these groups are vulnerable right now. Many have very low incomes or are on zero-hours contracts or part-time work which is drying up in this crisis.
Many of these projects are needed more than ever at the moment. Many charities are staying open to support people in need and many are moving what they do online, to make sure that people remain connected and know they are cared for.
It may feel like we are powerless at the moment, but we are not. You can help by ensuring that you continue to support these good causes so that vulnerable people can get through this very difficult period.