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Charity keeps Exeter folk singing and stretching online

Published: 14 January 2021

Goldies UK Goldies UK

Singing leaders from the much-loved Goldies Charity continue to keep in regular touch with dozens of isolated lonely people across Exeter .

Like many services during the Covid pandemic, Goldies was forced to cancel all its face-to-face sessions in the city last March, but is maintaining contact with its older folk through a variety of online options. The charity, better known simply as Goldies, started 13 years ago and has a huge reputation for the Songs & Smiles it brings to brighten lonely lives.

The City Council first brought the charity to Exeter in 2016, when its housing teams held an introductory session at the historic Guildhall with a number of residents from the Council’s Older Person’s Housing Schemes across the city.

The scheme caught on and become popular across the city ever since.

Now that everything is online, the sessions are now twice weekly with Tuesday sessions taken by Rachel Parry and Thursdays by Cheryl Davies, who have both worked for the charity for a number of years as daytime session leaders.

With Cheryl’s Thursday session based on the popular Goldies format of singing with well-loved popular songs and onscreen words, the weekly Tuesday 11am sessions led by Rachel have developed into a more magazine-style format.

Rachel records her sessions from her home in Thornbury near Bristol. She said: “We have had a fantastic response from older folk across England and we feature different subjects each Tuesday. Many age-related organisations, local authorities and town councils promote the sessions.

“The chair-based exercises encourage people to stretch as well as sing and we hope to develop these in the weeks ahead. We know that there is an emphasis this winter on preventing falls in the home and our gentle chair exercises encourage movement to those well-loved songs of the 60s and onwards,” she added.

Dr Afroditi Stathi is Associate Professor in Physical Activity, Ageing and Health at the University of Birmingham and a Trustee of the Golden-Oldies Charity.  She has been closely involved with the development of gentle Active Songs which have been introduced by Goldies. She said: “Evidence stresses that the barriers of having no reasons to get out and about and nothing to look forward to can be broken with the Goldies wellbeing sessions.The message is loud and clear: You can delay or reverse mobility limitations and maintain independence, and you can enjoy later life to the full. Loneliness in old age is not inevitable.”

Goldies Founder, Grenville Jones, added: “When we were forced to cancel our live Goldies sessions last year this meant that our older folk could not come to us to enjoy a session in their community room, church hall or library. As they could not come to us, through the internet we took Goldies into their homes and sofa-singing started!” is easy to access and is also freely available on YouTube and through Facebook.

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