New years bring new beginnings

Sing For Better Health in Brighton
Sing For Better Health in Brighton

A new year marks a time when many people redouble their efforts to get fit and stay fit.

When we published our report Sussex Uncovered 2 last autumn, the data threw up some stark disparities to do with health across Sussex. For example, men living in less deprived wards of Brighton & Hove will live on average over nine years longer than those in the most deprived areas. Much of the work we fund at Sussex Community Foundation is health-related in one way or another, whether it is physical, mental or emotional – or all three. In fact, since 2006, we have given over £1.5 million in grants to projects where ‘health and well-being’ are the primary issue being addressed.

One such group is Sing for Better Health in Brighton & Hove to whom we have given eleven grants worth a total of over £11,000 since their first application back in 2010 (when they were called Brighton & Hove Better Breathing Singing). The group holds six singing sessions a week across the city for people over 50 who have a range of breathing and other long-term health conditions such as asthma, Parkinson’s , heart disease or depression.

The aim, says organiser Udita Everett (pictured at the front of this happy group) is to improve health and wellbeing, using a combination of relaxation, stretching and breathing exercises and by singing songs together. “We want to support people with long-term health problems cope better with daily life, help to prevent illnesses, physical and/or mental deterioration and resulting social isolation,” says Udita. “It is also a great chance to make friends and have fun. You don't have to be able to sing!”

"I am an ex-coal miner who also smoked, resulting in emphysema," says one participant. “The classes help me to control and live with my problems. The breathing exercises are calming and soothing, relieving the pain of breathlessness and fear of the future.”

For more information, call Udita on 01273 556755 or 07969 129992.

Our Hastings & Rother Reducing Health Inequalities Fund has given out over £450,000 to groups helping people get healthy including the Hastings Chinese Association that provides workshops and activities such as Tai Chi, Chinese Plaza dance, samba and disco dancing plus chair-based exercise to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of its members. And, in West Sussex, the Chichester Stroke Club received a £3,000 grant last June to continue providing support to people of all ages who have suffered a stroke. This funding will enable the club to continue operating on a weekly basis, providing a full programme of services, vital to reduce the risk of further strokes.

There is a great deal of support available in our communities to help us stay fit and well in 2017 and we are delighted at the Foundation to be able to enable that support to continue.