Grant boosts wellbeing in older members of Kingston’s multi-cultural community

September 22, 2017

A grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation will enable older people from across Kingston’s communities to benefit from chair-based exercises to music that reflects their cultural diversity.

Global Arts Kingston had a pilot series of the sessions in 2016 but was unable to find the funding to schedule regular sessions at the Milaap Centre, in Acre Road.

The group’s artistic director, Louise Pendry, explained: “The pilot sessions were a great success with up to 40 people attending. There was disappointment when we were unable to carry on and many of those who attended have been asking if we can try and bring the activity back.

“They are delighted at the news that we can start up again and we would like to thank Care UK for the grant of almost £2,000 that has enabled us to bring back the sessions.”

The combination of music and activity boosts wellbeing.

The sessions have included music from traditions as varied as classical Indian dance and 1950s rock and roll. Louise said: “We found that, as people relaxed and talked during the sessions, they spoke more about the music they loved from their past and the teachers were able to incorporate the tunes into the sessions.

“We saw a wonderful increase in the participants’ mood, wellbeing and health, with people getting out of their chairs to dance and meet other people. This can help them form friendships. The sessions also help with mental health, which is important as, in some cultures, that can be a difficult topic to discuss.”

Rosemary Harvey, secretary to the wellbeing foundation board, said: “The board was very impressed by the way the Global Arts Kingston team has touched the lives of people from diverse backgrounds. Care UK runs 114 care homes and we know, from what our activity coordinators tell us, that the combination of music and activity boosts older people’s wellbeing.

“With the right music as a conversation starter it also provides wonderful opportunities for reminiscence, which is particularly helpful when you are communicating with and trying to learn more about someone living with dementia.”