How Red Nose Day Community Cash keeps our group in perfect harmony

Members of the Sing Your Heart Out group who have just won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Members of the Sing Your Heart Out group who have just won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Chairman is Penny Holden, front left, and founder is Tracy Morefield, front 3rd right. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A group which uses the healing power of singing to help people with mental health problems is urging people to apply for this year's Red Nose Day Community Cash giveaway.

Sing Your Heart Out at the Phoenix Centre received £1,000 last year to continue its work to built people's confidence, enhance their self-esteem and help them get back on their feet.

The Norwich Evening News, in partnership with Comic Relief and the Norfolk Community Foundation, is once again giving away £50,000 in grants of between £500 and £1,000 to community groups and organisations in Norwich.

Penny Holden, chair of Sing Your Heart Out in Norwich, said Community Cash had been essential in making sure the group can keep running for the 200-plus people who attend every year.

'We rely on donations and grants, so every bit of money we get is a feeling of achievement.


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'It's so important that we are able to get that funding to meet our running costs and pay for voice coaches,' she said.

A small but significant part of those running costs is the biscuit budget – something which illustrates the ethos of Sing Your Heart Out.

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'We always try to have chocolate biscuits for our members – it's a little touch, but it shows people that they are worth something, and are valued,' said Ms Holden.

Restoring the self-confidence of its singers lies behind the value of the group itself.

'Our singing workshops are for people who have experienced mental health problems, and for other people to take inspiration from them,' said Ms Holden, who first joined the group seven years ago and now chairs it.

She described the sensation of group singing as 'almost magic' for her and other members.

'It helps to raise self-confidence, improve your mood and gives your a feeling of worth.

'Singing in harmony is particularly effective as it gives people a feeling of contributing to something, something almost magic,' she said.

'People can also learn new skills and occasionally get back into work through things they have done in the group.

The Norwich Sing Your Heart Out group – there is a group in Attleborough and one coming soon in King's Lynn - has around 30 members a week.

And while it is a singing group, and does occasionally perform in public, it is not a choir.

'We're not in the Gareth Malone business,' said Ms Holden.

'Anyone can come along and sing – we don't care if people come along and make strange noises if they are joining in.

'Our coaches are so clever they always make it sound so good.'

Ms Holden, who is bipolar, said the group had helped her confidence blossom.

'I was probably at rock bottom when I was first taken along by my support worker, she said.

'All these years later, I've gone from someone who had to be taken places to someone who does public speaking and organises things.'

To find out more about Red Nose Day Community Cash and to apply, go to www.eveningnews24.co.uk

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