Project to link generations through music goes national

EVERY care home and school in Britain could be linked through music through a campaign launched by a Woking-based project.

Together with Music is a partnership between Care England and Intergenerational Music Making, which is run by a Horsell woman.

Charlotte Miller leads singing with children visiting a care home before coronavirus

Music therapist Charlotte Miller is drawing on her experience of trying to communicate with her grandmother, who had dementia.

The national campaign she is leading was launched last week and will link tens of thousands of elderly people with local schools.

The residents and young people will choose songs that are meaningful to them and share them with each other. This will lead to sharing of messages, including poems and artwork and then more regular contact.

Initially, this will be via Zoom and other online platforms, but the hope is that when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, the generations will be able to meet in person.

The campaign is a development of the work run by Charlotte and her IMM team in Surrey for nearly two years.

Charlotte grew up in West Byfleet, where she played in the Methodist Church band with her sister Olivia, and went to Halstead Preparatory School in Woodham Rise, Woking, and then Tormead School in Guildford.

Her grandmother, known as See-See, spent her last years in Moorlands Nursing Home in Lightwater and found communication difficult.

“Music was the only thing I found with which I could connect with her,” said Charlotte.

“She was terribly confused and agitated but, if I sang or played my flute, she would sing along, sometimes in her native Welsh, and she would remember who I was.”

Together with Music will bring children and care home residents together, initially online and face-to-face when that is possible

Charlotte studied the flute and piano at Trinity College of Music and the Julliaird School, New York, before gaining a masters degree in music therapy and working in the NHS and in education.

After she had her two children, she set up IMM to help to tackle isolation and improve the lives of those living with dementia. The not-for profit organisation has grown and now delivers more than 500 projects across the country, mostly in Surrey.

The work has continued during the pandemic, moving online and has included art and poetry, which have been shared with hospital patients and staff.

Together with Music is initially working with Barchester Healthcare, which has 240 care homes and hospitals with 12,000 residents and patients, and MHA which has around 4,400 care home residents and looks after a further 14,000 people in their own homes and in retirement complexes.

IMM has employed 12 people around the country to link care homes with local schools, made possible by funding from various sources.

Charlotte said the project is open to any care home and school or youth club or group that wants to take part.

The schools and care homes will first earn a bronze award by sharing songs and music. They will then move on to silver by sharing messages and then gold by meeting, initially remotely and then in person when this is possible.

“Together with Music will connect young people with care home residents through music to raise awareness, establish links and in turn, tackle loneliness, isolation and promote sustainable socialisation for those most vulnerable.” Charlotte said.

She set up IMM to build better communities and tackle isolation. “This year, everyone has had a taste of isolation and we can all see the power of the arts in connecting people.”

As well as spreading Together with Music to as many people as possible, Charlotte wants to create other ways for the elderly and young to interact.

“COVID has destroyed community and this has made people realise how important it is. People want to be in contact and love the music and the arts.

“This is about creating healthier intergenerational communities; we need to create a better future for our children,” she said.

For more information, visit www.togetherwithmusic.org.uk or search for @IntergenTwM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @IntergenTwM. Visit www.imm-music.com.

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