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Methodist Homes (MHA) has joined forces with a performing arts charity to help bring participatory singing experiences to its members and residents.

Run by Shapeshifter Productions, the Smiling Sessions have gone online during the pandemic, after being initially run in person in places such as care homes as community singing events, which are known to help increase people’s wellbeing and happiness.

In MHA, the online Smiling Sessions will be used by MHA Digital Communities, a virtual community created for those aged 55 and over. The online community is designed to support people feeling isolated or lonely within their own homes through various activities promoting social inclusion. In addition, they are also made available to MHA’s care homes for their residents.

The videos will supplement content provided by MHA and are designed to entertain and delight the audience across all of MHA – with a wider wellbeing benefit associated with singing. They feature big names, like Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas, singing to well-known tracks and encouraging viewers to sing along for their pleasure and enjoyment.

Matt Edwards, who leads the MHA Digital Communities Team, said: “It’s great to be able to share the Smiling Sessions videos with all of our residents and members. 

“The team at Shapeshifter Productions, who produce the Smiling Sessions content series, are extremely passionate about helping to tackle social isolation caused by Covid-19. This is a cause that’s so close to our hearts at MHA, having been so deeply impacted by the pandemic. 

As this relationship grows, we’ll seek to fund in-person sessions in our MHA Communities groups and within our care homes. It’s a really exciting time, and we’re thrilled to be working alongside Shapeshifter’s founder Alison Jones.

Shapeshifter Artistic Director Alison Jones commented: “Over the years of delivering The Smiling Sessions, recognition has grown of the powerful role singing can play in transforming people’s lives.

We are delighted to be working with MHA as their work in helping combat loneliness and isolation very much resonates with the reasons behind why we set up the Smiling Sessions.

Music and singing have always been a great means of raising spirits and keeping people of all ages healthy, and we are delighted our sessions will be reaching more older people and helping them during these difficult and uncertain times     .”