Renfrewshire Carers Centre offers a wide range of social and leisure activities throughout the year and one of the most popular ones amongst the carers is the Carers Choir.
The Carers Choir started in 2013 as a short project to give carers the opportunity to come together and perform at the Annual General Meeting of Renfrewshire Carers Centre. The first performance was so successful that the carers decided to meet every week to practice and invite new members along.
The Choir now consists of carers of different age and gender: 18 to 80+ and all the carers say it gives them a sense of community and togetherness, and also breaks down age barriers between young and older carers.
Lorraine MacKenzie-Leigh, who is a carer and a member of the choir said:
“Singing with the choir helps me in many ways – it helps me feel happy, provides company, gives me a break from my caring responsibilities and, being with other carers, listening to how they deal with life’s issues, helps me learn more about coping mechanisms. Singing lights my mood, makes me happy and is enjoyable. The carers Centre provides practical support by providing advice and training sessions, which help me to carry out my caring duties and look after myself too. The Centre staff also provides emotional support by listening to me when I have a problem or providing a “shoulder to cry on” when I need. I don’t know what I’d do without the Centre, the support group or the choir – they mean so much to me and I miss them all if I cant attend.”
Another carer, Margaret Nilsson, said the following:
“The Choir gives me a break from my caring role, it gives me sense of belonging, it has helped me gain confidence and self-belief. Singing lifts my spirit and makes me feel happy. I have used many of the projects within the Centre to help me in my caring role. All the staff are wonderful and so caring, it has been life saver for me. I enjoy performing with the choir and bringing music to so many people’s lives.”
The Choir has made a huge contribution in breaking down stigmas and stereotypes. It helps boost confidence levels, build new skills and more importantly, give the carers time to have fun and to socialise – and gives people a life outside of caring. Some carers have also reported health benefits from the Choir- improved asthma and reduced stress levels.
Choir’s leader Kirsty Duncan said:
“Since starting the choir in 2013, I have noticed how coming together to sing each week has improved members’ health, confidence and singing! We have now a real community who look after each other and enjoy performing together. I am proud of them”.
the Choir perform at Carers Centre events like carers Christmas Lunch as well as singing to local Day Centres and Care Homes. They also do some raising awareness sessions on behalf of the Carers Centre by singing in shopping Centres and at various information days.
For example, during the Choir’s performance at Intu Braehead Shopping Centre during Carers Week, the Choir raised an amazing £280.35
One of the proudest moments in the life of the Choir was when they won the award for Inspiration from Scotland Sings in 2015. Next performance of the carers’ Choir will take part during the 20th Anniversary celebration in August.