A charity that has singing for older people at its heart is looking forward to 2016, reaching out to hundreds of lonely isolated folk across England and Wales.
From small beginnings the registered charity Golden-Oldies has exciting plans for the new year which include the opening of its first sing&smile Goldies Charity Shop in Keynsham, a major October open day for older people in Wales under its Goldies CYMRU banner and an ambitious programme of new sessions across Yorkshire, Essex, Staffordshire the West of England and Wales.
Years of conducting choirs by Bath-based music man Grenville Jones illustrated to him how the joy of singing and belonging to a group had huge social advantages.
Eight years ago in January 2008 Grenville started four daytime fun singing sessions for older people in Bath and Bristol. In 2016 that session location number will reach 150.
The first four took place in sheltered housing community rooms. Looking back, Grenville remembers clearly the day he walked into a community room one cold January morning. He asked an elderly gentlemen sat in the corner what events took place in the room. The answer came back;
“We used to have fish and chips and bingo but they don’t do that anymore.
“The only time we come here now is when someone dies and we come to their Wake!”
Grenville made the decision then to start his charity called Golden-Oldies bringing fun singing and activity sessions that would give older people a REASON to get out, to be with other and, most importantly, to sing and to smile to the popular memory evoking tunes of the 50s onwards.
Recent events have included a sell-out fundraising concert in Staffordshire, BIG Saturday SINGS in Braintree, Swindon and many Christmas parties, all organized by the 40 dedicated session leaders. The Lord Mayor of Bradford showed her skill at doing The Twist at the launch of Goldies at Silsden near Bradford in October.
As 2016 arrives there are now over 140 sessions across England and Wales, and hundreds of older people who eagerly anticipate their regular weekly or monthly Goldies session, as the charity has become fondly known.
As Goldies has spread so have the locations which now vary from church halls, clubs for elderly folk, the lunchtime sessions organised by the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation in Wales and a host of community centres.
Those attending are older people, many suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s, adults with learning difficulties and, through the charity’s award-winning schools intergenerational project, hundreds of primary schools.
In 2015 Goldies launched new sessions with Afro Caribbean Elders in Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon. A session engaging with Asian Elders singing Bollywood music as well as one with Chinese older people singing in Cantonese. Just some of the highlights of 2015.
Another exciting development in 2015 was an innovative programme with the library services at Cardiff City Council. New daytime session have been introduced at three libraries including the Cardiff Central Library Hub where people of all ages sing, smile and dance in the aisles.
In Wales also under a Lottery supported programme a book of Welsh folk songs was introduced at the end of 2015, popular melodies that will be enjoyed at both Goldies and school events in Wales in the future.
The Goldies Shop in Keynsham is planned to open in February. The charity is working in partnership with Dorothy House Hospice Care, another unique partnership arrangement.
Mike Richardson is the Chair of the Goldies Trustees. He said;
“With Dorothy House as our partners the first Goldies Shop will give us a presence in the community and, if successful, we hope to introduce more shops across the Goldies areas in the years ahead. This is a major step forward for our charity and the income will help us to sustain and introduce more daytime singing and activity sessions.”
As Goldies enters 2016 it sets its sights and aspirations to become Goldies UK in the months and years ahead.
Founder Grenville Jones concluded;
“If we can reach out to hundreds of people with our existing popular sessions there is no reason at all to assume that if we could gain the necessary financial support we could brighten the lives of thousands upon thousands of lonely people across the whole of the United Kingdom.”