West Sussex singing group set up to help people with Parkinson’s

The Worthing and Washington branch of Parkinson’s UK has started a singing group for people affected by the condition and their families.

The launch is part of a national network, following the success of a similar group in Canterbury that was created in 2010 to enable people with Parkinson’s to express themselves through music.

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The Worthing and Washington team is one of the largest Parkinson’s UK support groups in the UK, so it was seen as the ideal way to expand the Sing to Beat Parkinson’s network.

The Worthing and Washington branch of Parkinson's UK celebrating the charity's 50th anniversary in February. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks190055-2

The group has members from Littlehampton in the west to Southwick in the east, and north as far as Arundel and Pulborough, including Washington and Ashington.

Funding was approved for the new singing group for an eight-week pilot scheme and it is hoped it will attract around 30 members by the end of the period, leading to more long-term singing activity.

The group launched at Heene Community Centre on Wednesday, April 10, and meets weekly on Wednesdays from 1pm to 2.30pm.

Canterbury Cantata Trust president Roger Clayton and artistic director Professor Grenville Hancox founded Canterbury Skylarks to enable people with Parkinson’s to sing, express themselves, reduce the stigma associated with the illness and relieve some of the symptoms they experience.

The Washington members. Picture: Tony Barnes

This led to the establishment of Sing to Beat Parkinson’s, a new national network of singing groups for people with Parkinson’s, their carers, friends and families.

Grenville adopted and further developed an approach based on many years of experience and research into the positive impact of singing on wellbeing.

Members have found his energetic, positive and inclusive methods have enabled them to maintain and improve their psychological and physical wellbeing through taking part in regular singing activity.

Many people with Parkinson’s have vocal strength issues and regular singing can help strengthen the voice.

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