Singing group in King’s Lynn helped woman overcome mental health struggles
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
It is a chance for people to get out of the house and socialise in a no pressure environment, while also enjoying the past time of singing.
And for one King's Lynn woman attending the Sing Your Heart Out group helped her tackle her severe depression.
Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) is a series of singing workshops for people to get together and enjoy themselves, and to gain the known benefits to mental health from singing.
Sylvia Taylor started singing to help with her mental health in 2010, joining a different choir to begin with.
'It's so hard while you are feeling low and your energy has dropped, to motivate yourself to go and even think of ideas that can help,' she said.
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'It was hard at first and I couldn't believe I was singing while I was feeling so low but gradually it helped, especially as I began developing connections again with other people who became friends.
'I met an amazing lady there who became a big influence in my life. Elisabeth Winterbone was the sweetest lady and she introduced me to Sing Your Heart Out.
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'She told me that Sing Your Heart Out ran singing workshops and welcomed people with mental health issues and that anyone could go along.'
Mrs Taylor said the group was a special place, where there was lots of laughter.
'I went and had such a warm welcome, it bowled me over.
'There were only a few members then, the voice coaches were so warm and made us sound so great and made it a lot of fun. It was such a great atmosphere I couldn't wait to go back.
'It's true the song 'get by with a little help from my friends', but at the time it was hard to talk about my depression with my friends as inside I felt that I shouldn't be low and it is common to blame yourself but this just adds to it.
'So having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and talking to a therapist really helped with my thoughts.
'Although it was hard for my family and friends to know how to support me, I am grateful that they did support me,' she said.
And now Mrs Taylor and two other group members have set up a social event, where the group can meet every other Friday afternoon.
'Hold onto the fact that things can change and can get better,' she said. 'Hold onto your hope and if you can't, find someone to hold it for you.
'Do discover your interests and do things again, whatever that may be, as hard as it is, to get going again, there are good people and good groups out there for you to make connections with.'
Judy Mears, chair of the King's Lynn group, said: 'Our singing sessions are to help people feel better about themselves in all sorts of ways.
'They can help reduce stress, they can increase your confidence and they give you a chance to be with other people who will understand how you feel.'
Singing sessions are available in Attleborough, Great Yarmouth, Norwich and King's Lynn with a venue planned for North Norfolk later in the year. The groups usually meet up every week during term time.
Anyone over 18 can go along to a session and it's absolutely free.
SYHO especially welcomes anyone who has experienced mental health issues and people with learning difficulties or mild dementia.
Although the groups have trained voice coaches, experience or talent is not required.
Everyone is encouraged to join in and sing but listening to begin with or bringing a friend is fine.
Mrs Taylor added: 'Singing is great for your soul and is a great help to all of us who go there, they really are a lovely bunch of people and welcome anyone.
'Through this group and volunteering at the osteoporosis group, it gave my confidence back and I am now in a paid job helping others in similar situations.'
Taster sessions are also available over the coming months in Cromer, Trunch, Aldborough, North Walsham and Sheringham.
Further details can be found on their website: www.syho.org
SYHO is just one example of the way Norfolk County Council wants to combat loneliness.
This newspaper is supporting the council's In Good company campaign, launched last November, where the council is calling for more voluntary and statutory organisations to lend their support and make use of the County Council's online Norfolk Directory to promote their activities, services and events across the region.
To find out more visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/ingoodcompany or call 0344 800 8020.