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Activism

Meet the musicians bringing songs to the doorsteps of vulnerable people this Christmas

“Christmas is about togetherness, music, giving and joy which is what we try to capture in our visits. There is nothing I’d rather be doing over the festive season,” says founder Chloe Edwards-Wood.

A group of musicians are spreading Christmas cheer by singing songs on the doorstep for London’s vulnerable and isolated people.

People can nominate a friend or family member for a visit and the team at Give a Song will turn up and play two or three songs to lift the spirits.

Started during the pandemic, the group now numbers 30 musicians ranging from guitar players to saxophone and violin players.

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“Christmas is about togetherness, music, giving and joy which is what we try to capture in our visits. There is nothing I’d like rather be doing over the festive season,” said founder Chloe Edwards-Wood.

Musicians from Give a Song playing for a couple outside their house. Image: Give A Song

On one recent visit, Edwards-Wood visited a woman living with dementia, at the request of her son, who also cares for her. Soon after the musicians started their renditions of Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and Ben E King’s Stand By Me, the woman came into her front garden and started to dance.

“Afterwards her son said, ‘She told me she had awful arthritis and couldn’t move, now look at her – music is magic’,” Edwards-Wood said.

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Other visits often prompt neighbours to come outside and join in – moments which give a sense of connection to isolated people. Some even stop in the street.

Give a Song was given its initial support by Goldsmiths Community Centre, in south-east London. Along with home visits, the group also visits food banks and care homes.

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A resident joins in on the maracas. Image: Gabriele Brambilla

During the pandemic, give a song has also crowdfunded to support out of work musicians.

“Through crowdfunding and other funding we are able to pay them to make a difference and regain a sense of value,” Edwards-Wood said.

“We hope our short visits will give residents a feeling of being important and a moment of connection that will last into Christmas to help combat the effects of isolation and loneliness.”

Those nominating someone for a visit can request certain genres or songs. To nominate somebody for a visit in south-east London, email contact@giveasong.org.uk or fill in the nomination form here. Give a Song are also fundraising to help musicians and to continue to provide their visits.

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