The Hub Community Choir, Upper Eskdale, Dumfries & GallowayLara Porter of Upper Eskdale Development Group in Langholm, Dumfries & Galloway explains how a 'Come on in' micro-grant from Creative Lives enabled them to start a new community choir . . .

"There had been rumblings locally about how good it would be to have a community choir. Quite a few of us wanted to try it, but we are rural and remote, and not many workshop leaders want to come way out here in the evening.

With the added cost of travelling, anyone willing to come out to teach us would have to charge accordingly, so that made the choir too expensive. Then, by chance, I saw the ‘Come on in’ micro-grant from Creative Lives, and thought; fantastic! We could apply for that to start up our own community choir.

We were so happy when we got the grant and could go ahead and get started. We found a young actor and singing instructor, Amy Gospel who lives about 40 minutes away in another valley who was willing to come.

At the first session, there were 12 of us. We were all anxious, and some of us were a bit scared of singing. Amy got us to do some warm-ups and some games, which were very good at getting us to make eye contact and listen to each other. The energy in the room was transformed once did these, as we began working together as a team. We started singing a sea shanty, and before long we were singing in rounds and harmonies.

The weeks have passed and we have spent our £300 grant, on Amy’s fees. The songs we are singing are fantastic and we have enjoyed the choir so much. It has benefited our mental health, strengthened relationship bonds, and helped us make new friends. It's also brought in diverse members of the community, many of whom do not come to other things. It has made many of us much more confident, and some of us have now even tried the drum circle on a Friday night.

Our community choir was born out of this micro-grant - great things can come from small beginning!  We are now applying for more funding to keep costs down and enable as many people to come along as possible. Our numbers are growing every week and we are planning a performance this Christmas. 

The Old School Hub and Café is a fantastic community asset with great volunteers and staff. It offers people a safe non-judgemental inclusive space for local people and visitors to meet and enjoy themselves. This micro-grant was fantastic and allowed us to offer a different activity, which then brought in different people who are now feeling part of the local community.

Comments about the choir from participants:

"I have had such a great night, it has really cheered me up"
"Who knew I could sing!"
"I have had a great time out with you tonight Mum - we never normally do anything together."
"I can now give eye contact!"
"This is my only night out in a week."