Sunbeams shine through to scoop £144,622 award

Date: Friday 22nd June 2012

ANNIE Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust, which is based at Greystoke Castle Estate, has received £144,622 for its Music for Dignity project which will work with the Silver Liners music group to make a different to older people in the area.

Three creative projects for older people shared a slice from a £6 million England-wide funding announcement from the Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams program in association with the Daily Mail.

Sunbeams is aiming to work with more than 130 older people in the area with a range of complex physical and mental health needs who are rurally isolated. Through music, the project will help them to find new ways to cope with life-changing events, such as the transition into care, bereavement, or coping with long-term illnesses.

The community-led initiative will start with the Silver Liners 12 wheelchair-users aged 50 to 97 guided by two professional Sunbeams musicians, who will build their musical repertoire and perform concerts with 120 less active older people in care homes and other venues. Interactive music rehearsals and concerts will help older people deal with the strain of day-to-day life and give them back their quality of life.

“You’re never too old too have fun” said one Silver Liner who, along with other older people in West Cumbria, is hoping to do everything to ensure that “life is still sweet at 80” through their Silver Liners music and performance group.

In Cumbria 27 per cent. of residents are aged 60-plus compared to 22 per cent. nationally. In Copeland, projections suggest the 65-plus age group will increase to 30 per cent. by 2033, above average for England.

Annie, who founded Sunbeams 20 years ago, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our application to Silver Dreams was successful. We are all so passionate about our delivery of community music therapy throughout Cumbria, and to be able to pioneer our new Music for Dignity program in my home town of Cleator Moor is so exciting. The project places a specific emphasis on enabling older people to find new ways to cope.

Despite health deterioration, this age group does not want to be a silent majority anymore, but wants to have a voice literally, and remain active where possible.

“Music is a powerful stimulus for older people, promoting the ability within the disability, and helping to alleviate their feelings of exclusion, vul- nerability and isolation. We cannot wait to get started, and as the Silver Liners themselves said they want to make their wheelchairs invisible,” added Annie.

All projects which have received funding will now test and develop their ideas over the next 12 to 18 months. Up to five projects will then be chosen to receive up to £1 million each to carry their ideas forward.