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Remote Choir Project featured in NHS Health and Wellbeing Case Study

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In March 2019 our project Remote Choir / Côr Pellenig, which took place in 2018, was highlighted as an example of how the arts can contribute to tackling a key priority of the NHS in a briefing paper for the Cross Party Group on Arts and Health for the Welsh NHS Confederation.  News of the project had reached Wales Arts and Health Network, who approached Span to commission a short film documenting the project, funded by the Arts Council of Wales. The briefing paper included three film case studies of how arts based initiatives are being used to tackle loneliness and isolation to improve people’s health and wellbeing. 

Watch the newly commissioned film here:

Remote Choir / Côr Pellenig combined the words and voices of older people who love singing but were isolated because they found it difficult to get out and about due to health or age-related issues. The project worked with 1o people over the age of 60 who live with poor mobility.  Some participants lived with early onset dementia, others with long term or chronic conditions such as diabetes, ME, Autism or MS.  From the comfort of their own homes and care homes, participants took part in a series of one to one singing workshops with Welsh singer-songwriter Molara Awen to recall old remembered songs, learn new songs, and improve their singing skills. Through this process, Molara gathered snippets of conversations as well as lyrics and poems already written by the participants and created a new song based on their stories, experiences and aspirations called ‘Song of my Life’. Each individual was taught the song and recorded at home, and then the song was mixed together in a sound studio by Molara and Jez King. Most of the group were also able to make one meeting with Côr Pawb (Everyone’s Choir) at Queen’s Hall, Narberth, where the choir was also taught the song. Throughout the process, Filmmaker Ruth Jones was gathering audio and film and created a short art film which can be viewed here:

The participants were Maggie Blincow, Tony Osborne, Vince Mingay, Gerry Phillips, Wendy Bardbury, Arthur Ray, Trevor Blake, Maymi Ely, Joan Bonner and Jane Phillips. Sadly Trevor Blake died in April 2019. His wonderful voice, which gave him the nickname ‘The Pencoed Pavaroti’ lives on in the film.

The Remote Choir project also supports the work of Digital Communities Wales by inspiring isolated people from rural areas to get online and improve their digital literacy. Participants were shown how to use tablets and access channels such as YouTube where they could watch performers singing their favourite songs. 

The briefing paper recognises that arts based projects provide innovative, person-centred approaches to improving people’s health and well-being.  We whole-heartedly agree and are proud of Span’s work on tackling rural isolation and loneliness through the arts art and are delighted that Remote Choir has been recognised in this way.  Especial thanks to choir leader Molora Awen and Creative Technologist Ruth Jones for their time and dedication to this innovative and exemplary project.  Thanks also to Wales Arts Health and Wellbeing Network for featuring this work  and to the Arts Council of Wales for commissioning the film. 

#artspreventloneliness #celfynatalunigrwydd #artassocialchangewales #artassocialchange #Pembrokeshire #ruralwales

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