Unique choir of service users and Trust staff launch special new CD

(from left):  Kathleen Mc Colgan, Katrina Shields, Mary Doran, Valerie Spencer
(from left): Kathleen Mc Colgan, Katrina Shields, Mary Doran, Valerie Spencer

The Rossdowney Recovery Team at the Western Trust have said they are thrilled to launch a special CD by the unique ‘Song for the Soul’ Choir in The Playhouse.

The ‘Song for the Soul’ CD is a collaboration between various agencies including the Halifax Foundation for NI, The Playhouse, Western Trust and Blast Furnace Recording Studios. It marks a significant milestone in the life of a “vibrant choir which continues to grow from strength to strength”.

Valerie Spencer, Rossdowney Recovery Team Manager said: “The choir started up in 2015 and was the brainchild of Katrina Shields, community psychiatrist nurse in the Rossdowney Recovery Team, who has a lifelong passion for music. Having sang in a band, she had the idea of setting up a choir for some of the service users of the recovery teams. Helen Ferguson, occupational therapist with Rossdowney Recovery Team, using her extensive knowledge and skills, helped apply for an initial £5,000 funding via CLEAR (Public Health Agency) which enabled us to employ an independent musical director, Siobhan Heaney and her accompanist Joseph Deery on piano.”

Valerie added: “The aim of the Song for the Soul project was to bring everyone, including health professionals and service users ,together weekly for the sole purpose of singing and offering the opportunity for social interaction.

“The mental health benefits of singing are well documented and all members of the choir have benefitted immensely from this experience. Using music and song to express one’s emotions has been found to enhance wellbeing, reduce social isolation, reduce emotional distress, depression and anxiety, improve confidence and self-esteem, and the group setting promotes feeling of connectedness.

“In enabling the choir to use The Playhouse as a venue our choir members are able to feel more connected to the city and take part in group activity which is all inclusive and community based. Strong supportive relationships have been fostered and this has been an integral part of its success.”

The choir meet up every Monday from 2pm to 3.30pm and new members are warmly welcomed.

At the beginning of the CD, service users reflect on what Song for the Soul means for them and the impact it has had.

The choir are now looking forward to a busy October with performances at the Holywell Trust last week to mark World Mental Health Day and at the choral festival.

Valerie paid tribute to the “enormous” support from Halifax Foundation for NI, and to the The Playhouse.