A few weeks back, armed with a (grumpy) East Blam baby, we trotted over to Canning Town for a singing and social group called Songs and Smiles. A new initiative from the Together Project, Songs and Smiles does exactly what it says on the tin, but with a community twist.
Held at Summersdale Care Home, Canning Town, it offers music and fun times for the youngest members of society (so far so normal, for parents and young kiddie-pops), while encouraging activity and interactivity from the eldest members of society (ahhh, there’s the twist), tackling age segregation and loneliness on both ends of the scale.
Bringing big people and small people together on the telly as well as in real life.
For those of you who watched Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for 4 Year olds, or the earlier two part documentary set in a Bristol care home, you will know that research studies and TV channels alike are touting evidence that bringing together each end of the age spectrum can help development for both of them, and more specifically help tackle or even improve physical and mental cognition amongst our older generations. Song’s and Smiles dovetails nicely off the back of this research / trend and in to our back garden, courtesy of the Together Project.
Happy babies, musical instruments and Tea and Biccies
Hosted by Founder Louise, the free session is suitable for 0-4’s, and lasts an hour. 30 minutes of shaky egging, scarf waving and silly singing (playing musical instruments is good for your motor development, don’cha know), and 30 minutes of ‘Meet and Mingle’ time, where you have a chance to grab a cuppa and a chat, while your
ankle biter angel child charms the pants of a few of the residents and twists their arm in to a cuddle or a game of peekaboo.
East Blam Baby was mighty taken with all of the attention and nodded and clapped his way through a healthy rendition of ‘Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes’ before settling down for a chat about ‘oooooo’ and ‘Abadabadabba’ with a lovely lady called Iris.
Some of the residents do look slightly bemused at a tribe of toddlers armed with musical weapons, but largely the kiddiewinks win them over before the fat baby sings, and facilitating the process of little ones negotiating with big ones is what it’s all about really. It’s very charming to watch.
Be warned, care homes tend to have the heating up fairly high, so take layers if you and the choo-chi-coo don’t want to be melting into a sweaty puddle by the end of your third song.
Bringing locals of all ages together
Funded by Santander Changemaker fund, and City of London Improving Life for Londoners Trust, Together Project has been running in London since July 2017 and is now having an amazing impact on local residents of Surrey, Suffolk and Essex as well. You can find weekly sessions in Canning Town, Forest gate, Chingford, Leyton and Billericay, amongst others.
Isolation is a very real issue, not just for the elderly, but also for new parents on maternity leave, so what better way to combat that, than getting you all together under one roof armed with a shaky egg and a cup of tea. Because happy babies + tea and biscuits + someone (else)
cooing at distracting your tiny darling terror = happy mums.
Do it for the warm and fuzzies. Do it for your kids. Do it for your Nan. Whoever you do it for, in the words of Nike, ‘Just Do it’.
(Also thanks to all the residents and parents who let us wander around with the camera, and share these pics)
What: Songs & Smiles – A music group for babies and toddlers, their grown-ups and care home residents to help tackle loneliness and isolation by creating an intergenerational experience.
MONDAYS 11am-12pm: Summerdale Court, 73 Butchers Road, London E16 1PH
MONDAYS 2.30-3.30pm: Aspray House, 481 Lea Bridge Road, London E10 7EB
TUESDAYS 11am-12pm: Parkview House, 212 Chingford Mount Road, London E4 8JR
WEDNESDAYS 11am-12pm: Westgate House, 178 Romford Road, London E7 9HY
WEDNESDAYS 2.30-3.30pm: Albany Nursing Home, 11-12 Albany Road, London E10 7EL
THURSDAYS 11am-12pm: Anisha Grange, Outwood Common Road, Billericay CM11 2LE
THURSDAYS 2-3pm: St Ives Lodge, 25-29 The Drive, London E4 7AJ
Where: Canning Town, Forest Gate, Leyton and Chingford – See above
£££: The session is totally 100% freeeeeeee!