Singing project aims to bridge age gap in Newham

Children and adults and the Songs and Smiles opening at Summerdale Court Care Home February 4. Pictu

Children and adults and the Songs and Smiles opening at Summerdale Court Care Home February 4. Picture: Louise Goulden. - Credit: Louise Goulden

A project is bringing singing sessions with babies and toddlers to old people’s care homes.

Songs and Smiles is run by the community interest company The Together Project, a group hoping to address what it calls ‘age segregation’ in the UK.

There are now two sessions running in Newham at Barchester Westgate House in Forest Gate and Summerdale Court Care Home in Canning Town.

Jo Moore, mother of eight-month-old Freddie, said: “The team very quickly create this amazing atmosphere which is inclusive of everyone in the room, old and young. It’s a wonderful way to bring people together.

“There’s something so nice about coming away from a baby class thinking that you might have made someone else’s week a bit better too.”

The Together Project wants to address the isolation and institutionalisation of older people and expose younger people to the experience of an elder generation.

Around six to 12 parents and babies come to each session, depending on the size of the care home. The programme is aimed at children from zero to four.

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The Together Project runs on a staff of two, with the rest working as volunteers. Louise Goulden, a mother from Walthamstow, founded the project in 2017.

“Our aim is to bring local communities together through joyful activities that are beneficial to everyone involved,” she said.

“Early experiences have a huge impact on young children’s development, so by mixing with people who are a lot older and may have disabilities or be living with conditions such as dementia, parents and guardians are setting positive foundations for their outlook in later life.

Alexa Sutheran is the other employee at the project, working as the coordinator. She also works as a group leader at the sessions with her 17-month-old, Iris.

Alexa started at the project after she was made redundant when she was seven month pregnant.

She started going to the group to have something to talk about at interviews, but fell in love with it.

“It’s like seeing your own children acting in a way that is far beyond their years.

“I’ve got a three-year-old as well and when she goes in she gets that the people don’t have the same kinds of skills that she’s used to. They’re compassionate.”

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