Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann in Britain is bidding to become a dementia friendly organisation. Working across Britain since 1957 Comhaltas has been a significant contributor to supporting and maintaining the Irish community in Britain through promotion and teaching of our traditional arts. In its 60th year Comhaltas is looking to increase its support for the wider Irish community in Britain by becoming a dementia friendly organisation and assisting those living with dementia to live better.
In order to do this Comhaltas is taking part in the Aviva Community Fund. An open competition in which projects compete to gain funding to make a difference in their community. Our project ‘Songs from a Forgotten Memory’ is now at the public voting stage and we need every member of the community to cast their votes in support of this project.
The Irish community in Britain is distinctive, with a higher proportion of people above 55 and particularly beyond pension age than in the general or minority ethnic populations. It is estimated that around 10,000 Irish people in England experience dementia. Irish in Britain through their Cuimhne work and the Irish Memory Loss Alliance have become leaders in supporting culturally sensitive care for the Irish community but all parts of the community should be joining this work.
As an organisation Comhaltas Britain teaches music and song to hundreds of young people in Britain on a voluntary basis every week. We would like to equip our teachers and young people with the skills and knowledge to work with people living with dementia and their families and supporters. To give back the music, song and culture to those who have lost or forgotten it because of the effects of illness.
The power of music, especially singing, in triggering memories tokeep the grey matter active is an increasingly key feature of dementia care. Music can soothe, stimulate and bring to mind long-forgotten memories. Traditional Irish music and song is part of a strong oral tradition and many of our elderly Irish community will have played their part in passing on the songs, stories and music they heard from their parents around the house when they were small. Music, songs and stories which although having been passed on have been forgotten as a result of living with dementia.
Comhaltas, with all generations of the community working together aims to become a fully dementia friendly organisation and will do so through training for our leaders and young people, as well as producing and providing support material for them and the community to help stimulate and bring comfort to those living with dementia. The project will also see us working with those living with dementia to discover the songs which they learnt growing up, songs which trigger memories and show peoples individual stories, then sharing these songs and stories with others.
Help us to look at this passing on of culture not only as something for future generations but also something to support those who live with dementia today by voting for our project. Voting is open until 18th November and everyone can cast 10 votes for the project.
Link to the voting page: www.tiny.cc/vote-comhaltas
Further information from Comhaltas contact Patrick Morrison, Project Officer at e-mail email@example.com