Larne’s dementia-friendly choir going from strength to strength

Dementia Friendly Champion, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna.
Dementia Friendly Champion, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna.

A choir that was supposed to exist for just six week is proving an exemplar for Mid and East Antrim Council’s dementia-friendly community initiative.

‘This is Me’ goes from strength to strength under the guidance of Thomas and Angela Hamilton from The Music Yard, Larne.

Formed last year, the choir was earmarked to run for around a month and a half but the benefits gained for the most vulnerable residents in the borough have been immense.

Dementia Friendly champion, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna said: “Dementia-friendly communities are vital in helping people live well with dementia and remain part of their community.

“For Mid and East Antrim, becoming a dementia-friendly community doesn’t necessarily mean a big investment. Often it is just about communities assessing the ways in which they deliver services and making small changes to the way in which they respond.

“Across the borough, numerous dementia awareness sessions have been delivered with over 100 businesses and their staff taking part to become Dementia Friends.

“I am absolutely delighted that the ‘This is Me’ choir has been shortlisted in the 2019 annual Dementia Friendly Awards in the Dementia Friendly Community of the Year category which proves something wonderful and magical has been created.

“They have performed at a number of high profile events in the last year with an array of performances scheduled to take place. The impact of music has been so positive and incredibly powerful.”

The choir comes together at the Music Yard each Wednesday from 2pm for singing and friendship.

Ald Mulvenna continued: “Our Dementia Garden is another initiative that continues to offer a safe and shared space for people living with dementia, and their carers to enjoy. It was carefully designed to include sensory plants to stimulate senses, provide a calming effect and trigger memory.”

“As a council, we plan to continue to raise awareness and encourage the entire community to share part of the responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued and are able to contribute to their community.

“We have plans to roll out further training in the Ballymena area so that local businesses and community groups can cater for those living with dementia.”