The Heron Well Being Music Cafés
We have become increasingly aware of the levels of social isolation experienced by many people, due to aging, mental health conditions, poor physical health and caring responsibilities. The national statistics are staggering. Currently, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems (MIND, 2017) 850,000 _people have a diagnosis of dementia (Alzheimer’s Society, 2015) and three quarters of older people are lonely and have not spoken to anyone about how they feel (Jo Cox Commission, 2017). The Heron Wellbeing Music Café was borne out of a need to draw our community together and address these public health concerns, using the power of music to improve wellbeing.
Participants do not need any musical ability or talent, simply a desire to engage in live music activity for their own wellbeing. The café sessions are led by specially trained community musicians who understand the therapeutic value of music and supported by musicworks volunteers. The sessions include live music (mainly keyboard), singing, movement and music-making as participants are provided with a wide variety of percussion instruments.
The project is about stripping away labels and enhancing wellbeing for anyone e who comes together to make and enjoy a live music experience. It aims to do so by supporting participants to experience the wellbeing benefits of connecting, being active, learning, taking notice and giving (5 ways to wellbeing, UK Gov.) A highlight has been the attendance of young children to the café giving a real boost to the esteem and joy of our participants and adding to our inclusive ethos.
The cafes are led by our Music in Care Practitioners who have been specially trained to be mental health and dementia aware, understand positive behaviours and safeguarding. They understand how to interact with the café attendees and to perform with them, responding to their particular needs and wishes and engaging them in music making.