A music group for young people with disabilities is a great way to make friends. ELLIE PILMOOR reports on the progress of Sing for Fun.
Every week, a church hall is full of songs and music for young adults with disabilities.
Phil and Sheila Caudery set up Sing For Fun in Gosport last October to give people with disabilities the chance to play instruments and do karaoke.
The sessions started last year when Phil and Sheila started looking after David, who has Down’s syndrome.
The 29-year-old had been taking piano lessons for two years and wanted somewhere to play.
So Phil and Sheila set up Sing For Fun to give others the chance to share their love of music.
Phil, from Lee-on-the-Solent, says: ‘We want to give people with disabilities the same opportunities that other people have.
‘I have always been into singing, even though I have never done it professionally, and when we started caring for David, he was really into playing the piano.
‘He had been learning in private lessons for around two years and he loved it.
‘He enjoyed playing so much and it was great to see how happy it made him.
‘I have always been musical myself and I like singing so I thought we could share that.
‘I thought to myself one day that I can share my experience in singing and music with David and others, too.’
Phil and Sheila host the sessions with their seven-year-old son James every Thursday.
People with any disabilities can join in and their family or carers are encouraged to also take part.
Phil adds: ‘We wanted to have a range of activities so that people with any disability, as well as their carers, can have fun and take part.
‘Seeing as we only started in October, we are still finding our feet about what the members want and the different things we can do during the weekly sessions.
‘But so far, they seem to enjoy coming along and it would be great to offer the service to more people.’
At the moment, between 10 and 15 people go to the Sing For Fun sessions held at St Faith’s Church, in Victoria Square.
Phil would like to build on that and encourage more people to come along.
He says: ‘I was surprised when we got a few people to start with but after the initial interest, we tend to have the same people come every which is good because it shows they enjoy it.
‘But it would be great if we could see it expand and get some new people interested.’
Sing For Fun also needs more members to cover the hire of the hall.
Phil adds: ‘We just about see ends meet but having more members means we can provide more.
‘We can afford the hall and we already have some instruments but it would be good to get a better range.
‘Anyone of any age or ability can come along.
‘Although we haven’t even been running a year, it would be good to see the group grow and see more people coming along with their carers.
‘I think if more people knew about what we did, they would like to come every week and get into the musical mood.’
During the sessions, Phil sets up his laptop to play songs online with the lyrics. The group’s songs range from nursery rhymes to chart music and there is a microphone for karaoke.
Phil and Sheila also provide a number of instruments for members of the group who might not want to sing.
‘Some of our members are more vocal than others and love singing along,’ says Phil.
‘But others just enjoy listening to the music.
‘We also give them instruments so they can drum along or keep to the beat so there is a lot on offer.
‘Some of the people who come along prefer the nursery rhymes because they can do the hand actions and they are easier to sing along to.
‘But some of the older ones like the modern music you hear on the radio so we do a nice mix.
‘I take requests as to what people want to listen to and make sure it’s right for everyone.’
But ensuring the members have the chance to express their love of music is not just what the group is about.
It also gives them the chance to make new friends and get out of the house.
Phil says: ‘I think Sing For Fun is very beneficial for the members in a lot of ways.
‘Members benefit from the fun music and we have one person who comes along and he loves it so much.
‘He enjoys taking part and at the end of the day, that’s what we are about.
‘But they can also make new friends and become more sociable.
‘Plus, it is something for them to look forward to and a time of the week when they can get out and about.’
Sing For Fun is held every Thursday, in the Lowry Room of the church, during term-time at 7.15pm.
It costs £3.50 a session which includes refreshments.
For more information, see Phil or Sheila at one of the sessions.