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Masonic Charitable Foundation supports Seagull Café

Posted by More Music on 10 April 2024

Over 500 older people living in and around Morecambe will be taking part in weekly community singing, combined with respiratory exercises and dancing, thanks to a grant from West Lancashire Freemasons to the More Music charity. The £43,000 grant will support More Music’s Seagull Café project, which hosts a vibrant community singing group for older people where participants enjoy a joyful singalong, a chat with company and a tasty afternoon tea.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Schofield was delighted to attend the Seagull Café, accompanied by Provincial Communications Officer Barry Dickinson, to meet the staff at a typical singalong session and chat to the participants. Peter met Anna Daly, the local Music For Health Project Manager, to learn firsthand what the project means to the elderly people of the Morecambe area, and was introduced to Jodie Woodburn, Social Prescriber, who regularly attends these sessions to help wherever possible to identify and assist anyone who may need help with health issues. The entertainment was provided by musicians Bill Roberts and Sian Philips, who led the community singing and activities. It was a great experience for Peter and Barry to witness the joy of the elderly singers, and even get involved in their activities.

Behind the tunes and the tea, is an important therapeutic and social purpose. Singing with people lifts spirits and mood, and the songs themselves unlock wonderful memories. The tea and cakes moment offers an opportunity to chat, connect and meet new friends. Led by musicians from More Music‘s creative team, the sessions are social and creative and include live music, performance, singing, breathing exercises and learning new songs together. The play-list is full of old-time tunes by artists such as John Denver and Dean Martin as well as hits from ABBA and Elvis.

There will also be staff from the local GP’s surgery attending the sessions to check in with their patients and do mini health MOTs. Attendees at the singing group tend to be more relaxed and open to discussion their health.

Like many seaside towns, Morecambe has a large elderly population, many of whom are living in deprived circumstances. Poverty exacerbates poor health and increases social isolation as people economise on activities and outings, which increases social isolation. There is no cost to attend the café singing sessions and the charity arranges free transport for those who need it.

The grant from West Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, funded by Freemasons, their families, and friends, from across England and Wales. The funding will make a significant difference here in the west end, an area which faces considerable challenges with poverty and health.

More Music’s Anna Daly said: “We’re very grateful to the Lancashire Freemasons for their generous grant. Research shows that singing improves our heart rate, blood pressure, mood and depression and that singing with others in a shared creative context can cultivate feelings of happiness and social equality. Seagull Café has become a regular and important feature in the lives of many older people in our community, inspiring new friendships and boosting mental health.”

Mark Matthews, leader of West Lancashire Freemasons, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help More Music with their wonderful singing project. Loneliness has been proven to have a serious effect on health, with effects similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Without the Seagull Café many of the attendees can go for weeks or even months without having a meaningful conversation with another human being.”

Find out more about the Seagull Café dates here

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