Singing, Eating and Talking: A Community for People with Dementia and their Carers

07 June 2023

The rural Methodist Church in Thornborough in the Northampton District was the first Methodist Church to start a Lyrics and Lunch group in June 2022 and the furthest south so far. Lyrics and Lunch is a Christian Charity for those living with dementia and their carers. It aims at creating a community for those who might be losing theirs. 

“Here we are together, together. Here we are together, and ready to sing,” the volunteers start singing along with carers and people with dementia in the warm and welcoming Thornborough Methodist Chapel.

Led by Katy Morris, Lay Pastoral Care Worker, the group has an hour of singing, including a spiritual element with a scripture reading, a thought for the day and a hymn, some movement with percussion instruments and sensory scarves – activities that bring a bit of physical movement, to deepen the experience.

All this is then followed by a lunch. “I have a heart to care for people with dementia and their loved ones, to give them a community at a time when their lives implode and their social lives disappear. For a long time I had wondered if there was something I could do,” says Katy Morris who started Lyrics and Lunch at Thornborough. 

It all started during lockdown when Katy attended a summer school on Zoom and one of the speakers was a woman called Jeanette who started Lyrics and Lunch. It soon became evident to Katy that starting a group would be a great activity.

The choice of Thornborough Methodist Chapel was the first step, “it's a pretty place and it's easy to stop their car and walk in,” added Katy. The blue walls are soothing and the atmosphere is cosy. 

The next step was to look for volunteers and about 12 completed the training last year: some chapel members, some whose partners who had dementia and since died, and some from Well Street United Church. After seeing a post on Facebook, some members of the village offered to bake cakes for them every month.

They created flyers and left them in local churches, GP’s practices, libraries, and anywhere they thought they might reach people needing support. Steve, one of the carers, was bringing a few people to Lyrics and Lunch before volunteering, “I cannot think of anything better than helping people with dementia.” 

The project also received a start-up grant from the Northampton District Mission Group after a successful application by one of the local ministers. The grant helps with the running costs but also meant they could purchase the copyright permission for the songs.

“It’s a nice feeling to see the smile on people’s faces when they hear a tune they are familiar with,” says Sylvia one of the volunteers, “I am sure that people who come to help enjoy it as much as the participants.” 

“The flowers and the decoration are coordinated, it’s lovely,” declares Audrey a couple of times. Every month, it takes about an hour for Katy to set up the room: moving the furniture, putting up tables, laying tables, getting the flowers, the fresh fruit, the bread, the milk and cooking two soups.

She also picks up a couple of people. That’s not counting the cleaning and tidying at the end – the volunteers help with this. Unfortunately, she can only manage to do it monthly at the moment, but, the team is big and could certainly be split in two, all that they need is another leader. 

The small group is slowly growing, which suits the chapel perfectly. There is not much offered in the area for people with dementia, so Lyrics and Lunch is a breath of fresh air for everyone. “I love to get out, but I can’t anymore. I don’t see many people anymore,” states Ron.

Most importantly, the people attending are friendly and warm, clearly enjoying their time together, either singing, eating or talking. “My grandad really enjoys it here,” says Sophie. John, her grandad, adds, “It’s a lovely bunch of people and the food is a real treat.” 

As the singing comes to its end, Katy starts, “We have all been together, together. We have all been together, and had a good sing.” 

To find out more about Lyrics and Lunch see Lyrics and Lunch: Music to feed the brain and lunch to enjoy together. 

If interested, contact Katy 3blayworkerzoom@gmail.com Tel 07904 958033