Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Musical Connections runs 8 weekly music groups and 2 community choirs in care and community settings across York to help vulnerable and socially isolated people live happier, healthier lives. The majority of our participants are older people and people with dementia, who, through their involvement in the project, experience reduced social isolation, and improved mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

In addition to the core weekly sessions, our programme of intergenerational projects and events with local schoolchildren and students provides a way for isolated older people to get involved in the life of their local community, and to make closer connections with other people and generations. A wide range of music, including reggae, pop, African and Bollywood, and activities such as composition and improvisation are used as a platform to help young and old to communicate, interact and make music together. Intergenerational workshops and extended projects are held in care-homes and sheltered housing schemes, and special events are staged in the local community; our seasonal ‘Big Sings’ are particularly popular – held in community venues or local secondary schools, they provide an opportunity for beneficiaries from all of our groups to come together with younger people, to enjoy all kinds of musical performances and activities, and to give performances themselves. In the last year, around 200 older, vulnerable and isolated older people have participated in over 50 projects/events alongside a similar number of schoolchildren and students.

An award of £1,000 from the Aviva Community Fund would kick-start our intergenerational programme for 2018, enabling us to run 12 such projects and events with around 150 beneficiaries early in the new year. These will comprise the following activities:

- Workshops run by students from the University of York, where group participants will be invited to play the ukulele, learn samba and African drumming and play the gamelan (a large, ornate Indonesian percussion ensemble, which will be transported by lorry into one of our participating care-homes)

- A Spring Big Sing, delivered in partnership with student bands from York St John University, and featuring performances from both older and younger participants

- Workshops in care-homes and sheltered housing schemes with children from local primary schools, covering a variety of themes and topics

- A ‘Little Sing’, where our participants will visit a local primary school to make music with the children.

We will provide free adapted transport to anyone who needs it to ensure that no-one misses out on attending any of these events.

We hope that people will vote for our project because we know from participant feedback that the work of Musical Connections and its intergenerational projects/events make a huge difference to vulnerable and isolated older people. Over 90% of beneficiaries who took part in a recent survey said that their involvement makes them feel:

• Happier
• Less isolated
• More confident
• Better able to connect with other/younger people
• More positive about life

Additional research showed that a huge 98% of beneficiaries and/or carers felt that intergenerational events help those who take part in them to be more alert, engaged and active. Equally, we have seen that where young and old make music together, unhelpful stereotypes are broken down, together with the barriers to communication that can often affect people who are living with dementia.

In the words of the beneficiaries themselves:

‘It’s lovely to have the kids come in, it makes you feel in touch. If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s hard to get out, and you feel a bit (pulled a face)..but when the kids come you feel better, more in touch’

‘I love being with the children, it makes you feel young again’

‘It’s very good to get amongst younger people. It brings you back to life’

‘It makes you feel like you’re not in a home'

Project Video

Musical Connections

Moment of Pride

We are proud to have won an NHS award in 2010 for work in Health and Wellbeing. Having started with 50 beneficiaries, we now work with over 200 every year, 90% of whom tell us that, because of our groups, they feel better, more connected to other people of all ages and more engaged with life.

Location: York