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Royal Holloway students adapt ‘Sing-Along-Surrey’ to fit with Covid-19 restrictions

Royal Holloway students adapt ‘Sing-Along-Surrey’ to fit with Covid-19 restrictions

  • Date08 March 2021

Sing-Along Surrey is an award-winning* volunteering project led by students from Royal Holloway. The project encourages students from the university to interact with older people living in Surrey, with weekly sing-alongs in three different care homes in Egham, Virginia Water and Englefield Green.

Sing-along Surrey

Photo taken before Covid-19 restrictions

The project has been running for seven years and was set up to help tackle loneliness amongst older people in the local community. The students who volunteer as part of the project lead sing-alongs that include hits from musicals such as Wizard of Oz and Oliver, as well as well-known songs by Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Elton John.

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and the nation was told to stay at home, the volunteer student leaders of Sing-Along Surrey had to come up with a new plan of action to keep in touch with the care home residents.

The students decided to start a pen pal scheme which has seen student volunteers spending time over the last ten months writing to the residents of each care home; updating them on their ‘new normal’. They have also been sending the resident videos of students performing songs and playing musical instruments, which the care home residents have been watching over lunch and dinner.

Sing-Along Surrey has recently started working alongside ‘Together with Music’; a charity which shares music with care homes across the South East. In just one week, residents from 60 care homes have watched and listened to Royal Holloway’s growing collection of virtual performances by students.

In addition, Sing-Along Surrey has secured funding to purchase recording equipment through the Student Opportunity Fund which is a Royal Holloway Alumni funded scheme. This means that as Covid-19 restrictions start to lift, Sing-Along Surrey hope to run virtual sessions with the local care homes. 

The residents of the care homes are really appreciative of the student volunteers who give their time to visit, when it’s possible and to write to them during lockdown. The care home residents have said, “Your visit makes our week!” and “We always look forward to you coming.”

Alice West, Sing-Along Surrey team leader and third year student at Royal Holloway, said: “So many of us have had relatives who are lonely, especially during the pandemic. It’s wonderful for families of local care home residents to know that we care, just as we’d hope people care for our relatives.

“Communicating through music is such a valuable way to connect and even when residents have been diagnosed with dementia, a song can spark happy memories. It’s a joy to see.”

Phil Simcock, Volunteering Manager at Royal Holloway, said: “The feedback from our local care homes is always so positive. The student-led project is one of many at Royal Holloway, but it is certainly one that students happily choose to volunteer with due to the friendly rapport built up with older residents which benefits everyone’s wellbeing.”

For more information on Royal Holloway volunteering, click here.

*Sing-along Surrey won the ‘Bringing the Community Together’ category at the Living and Ageing Well in Surrey Awards.

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