Sing United Supports
Running Total Raised £
Since April 2018
Sing United Supports is our initiative to put “community” firmly at the centre of community singing. Each term we adopt charities and connect with organisations in our community that have a connection with the theme of the songs we are singing. Then we do whatever we can to support them in that term, whether fundraising, volunteering our time to help them, singing for them, or often all three!
During Sing United‘s first term, “River’s Pride“, we adopted RNLI Blyth. Established in 1810, Blyth lifeboat is just one of over 300 RNLI lifeboats operating from over 230 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and ROI. The RNLI depends entirely upon voluntary contributions of both money and time. Through entirely voluntary craft making from our singers, raffles, a social night with fundraising games, and donation buckets at the concert at Discovery Museum, Newcastle in July 2018, we raised an amazing £1339! As one of the lifeguard’s outfits costs around £1000, we were delighted to be told that we had funded their latest vital lifesaving equipment and more!
Little did we know that whilst this was an amazing achievement, of which we were rightly proud, it was only a marker in the sand for what was to come next! In term 2, during Autumn 2018, we worked on our “Power to the People” show, packed full of songs with messages of hope for positive change. For this show, Sing United Supports adopted the incredible People’s Kitchen, Newcastle, in order to try and support their work supporting the homeless of the region. This really struck a chord with our singers, and they took our fundraising to heart in incredible ways.
Every week at rehearsal, food and clothing donations arrived by the dozen, and were dutifully delivered to the Kitchen the next day by our singers who volunteer there regularly. If we’re honest, we thought that would be the main kind of donations that we passed on during the term. However, as weeks went on, more and more singers (completely off their own backs) started to bring crafts, jewellery, jams, paintings, raffles of all kinds, all with the generous intention of the proceeds going in the pot. Before we knew where we were, the running total had long passed the incredible total of the previous term’s efforts for RNLI Blyth.
As well as our main concert at The People’s Theatre, Newcastle, we gave our additional non-venue venue performances (community singing in unusual places) at both Newcastle Central Station and Haymarket in the centre of the city, as part of our commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Suffragette movement. We invited volunteers from The People’s Kitchen to attend with their donation buckets every time we sang, and the total kept going up and up.
By the time we reached our final show, we could scarcely believe how much we had raised, but the best was yet to come! The People’s Kitchen go through certain foods more than most, so we asked the audience to bring with them a small donation of a packet of custard, gravy or mash. What arrived, was really moving.
178 pkts of instant custard powder
23 tins of custard powder
3kgs catering bag of custard powder
112 pkts of smash
102 tins of gravy granules
39 pkts of gravy granules
6.5 kgs of pasta
3 kgs of rice
25 tins of beans etc
1.5 kgs crumble mix
1.5 kgs flour
160 tea bags
11 assorted sachets of mixes
4 tubes of toothpaste
2 bottles of handwash
8 pkts of sanitary products
We still had one more appearance in us for the term, and where else to finish, but at the Kitchen itself as they served up another hot meal for their friends and guests. It was a truly humbling and emotional experience, especially when one of the friends of the Kitchen, dressed as Santa, asked us if he could join us for an impromptu “Silent Night”. How could we resist?
And then the question came. What was the final total? The singers and their families had generously sent food and clothing every week, the audience had been incredibly generous, but everyone wanted to know, what had all the fundraising amounted to?
The answer was simply incredible.
Not only that, but there had been so many donation envelopes given to us in rehearsals over the weeks, that a couple of weeks later, we found another one that had been slipped in between papers for safe keeping which had another £183 in which was immediately passed on to the Kitchen!
The FINAL total therefore for Sing United Supports “Power to the People”?
So how on earth could we top that??? We started 2019 and the “This Land Is Mine” term knowing we needed to get a little more creative with our community efforts. Instead of raising money for a worthy cause, we were intent on giving our time. The groups of people we worked with were all located at or near sites that were previously mines to fit with our theme. Sing United teamed up with the Manor House Whickham, which is a home for the elderly and those with dementia. A little band of the #greenheartarmy over several weeks visited the home for “a cuppa and a natter” with the residents. Soon after this we were on to planting nearly 100 trees for the Durham Wildlife Trust in Milkwellburn Wood! These efforts make a huge difference to the communities involved, bringing us all that little bit closer, sharing unique and wonderful experiences together.
Then we were on to our non-venue venue performances as we got stuck in to our Sing United Supports campaign once again. Who would have thought an outside performance singing in the woods could be quite such an experience? Then a small group of singers gave an emotional musical treat to the residents at the Manor House. That same day we were joined by more of the #greenheartarmy at Woodhorn Museum, one of the biggest mining museums in Europe. It was a powerful experience that started outside, singing Take Me Home a cappella under the old pit wheel, then moving inside to stand under the march band banners to sing The Jarrow Song. A moment in time firmly lodged in the memory banks of everyone there.
Despite the fact we weren’t focussing on raising money for this term, we still managed through various collections and donations to raise…
We donated this to the Durham Wildlife Trust and added the funds to the ever growing total of giving back that Sing United have become affectionately known for.
What a special term, proving that money isn’t everything when it comes to supporting your community. Time is something precious that simply money can’t buy.
We kicked off rehearsals for “Always On My Mind” in Spring 2019 and pondered how to ignite the passion and enthusiasm again for raising money and supporting our next chosen charity. Our support fittingly went to the SHINE fund who are the mental health charity for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
Worry not! More and more singers came out of the woodwork and set up their stalls in crafters corner, selling their wares and showing off some truly amazing talents! Again we were so humbled by the time and effort our lovely lot put into fundraising this term, not to mention everyone who gave so freely and willingly.
We now even have a dedicated Sing United raffle department who really excelled themselves with a raffle to end all raffles!
This term’s tour of the non-venue venues got off to a shaky start when rain stopped play at our planned performance at the Angel of the North. We went on to a very moving performance in the mental health department at St George’s Hospital, Morpeth and did finally get to perform at the Angel after show day. This included a special performance by Sing United Family to round the term off beautifully.
So, did we manage to scrape a few pennies together for the amazing SHINE fund? Did we ever, with a whopping...
Well, that wasn’t quite the end of the story! Sing United Family raised £65 with their own raffle to give a FINAL total for Sing United Supports “Always On My Mind” of…
Sing United captures the positive potential of people and music in one unique community singing group. As Mark puts it, “The most important desire is to bring people together who love to sing in a fun environment. But this isn’t just to make a great sound. We also want to demonstrate the amazing power that music can have when it carries a message of hope, or the feelings of a community”.
With plans for term 5 in Autumn 2019 already underway there is certainly no chance of us slowing down. We’ve now got a challenge on… who wants to be there when we smash £10,000???
This is community singing.
This is Voices Together.