Approximately 2,000 people in Leeds are thought to have the condition and every hour someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s disease. For many the symptoms experienced include affected movement and speech, but the disease also causes other non-motor symptoms including pain and depression.
But Giving Voice, a choir for adults with neurological conditions and their carers, is using song to reinvigorate the lives of those hit by illness. The group, set up by Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, is run by Speech and Language Therapist Wendy Neill and funded by the Trust charity. It provides an opportunity to socialise and practice some old favourites for people across West Yorkshire living with conditions such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and dementia.
The positive effects of singing as a form of therapy for people with speech or memory issues have been well documented and recent research at the University of Aberdeen found strong evidence that singing improves the speech of people with Parkinson’s. Choir members have seen several health benefits from attending weekly sessions including improved voice, breathing, mood and memory and a recent donation of £1000 by the Leeds Parkinson’s UK branch will allow this important work to continue.
Choir member Bob Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 58 and is the Treasurer at the local Parkinson’s UK branch.
He said: “When you are diagnosed with a condition like Parkinson’s it can be easy to lose confidence and your mood can suffer. There’s about seven of us in the choir with the condition and although my voice is very weak I do find that singing helps it.
It’s not just about the singing though, meeting every week to rehearse provides a good space to get together and share your problems with a group of people who understand exactly how you feel. This money means the group can carry on meeting every week and performing across the city – and hopefully we’ll continue to welcome new members too.”
The choir are always eager to welcome new people and continue to work to make the group as inclusive as possible for people with neurological conditions and their carers. For further information or if you would like to join the choir, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07944669313. The group meet every Wednesday at Holy Trinity Church between 6.30pm and 8pm.
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