Train passengers in Bristol unite by singing on the train for Dementia Action Week

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 25th May, 2018

On Wednesday 23 May, passengers on the 11.16 train service from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach travelled with musical accompaniment in a special takeover organised to mark Dementia Action Week (21-27 May). 

Staff and volunteers from Bristol’s Dementia Wellbeing Service, a partnership between Alzheimer’s Society and Devon Partnership NHS Trust, helped to organise a special Singing for the Brain session on the Severn Beach Branch line.

The event attracted more than 40 people affected by dementia. Many people hadn’t travelled by train for years and they’d certainly never sung on the train. Songs like Do-Re Mi from the Sound of Music, and Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker, could soon be heard ringing through the carriages. 

Usually entitled, ‘Singing for the Brain’, this special event was renamed ‘Singing on the Train’. Singing for the Brain, developed by Alzheimer’s Society for people with dementia, promotes communication through singing which can help with articulation, concentration, focus and motivation. The sessions usually feature vocal, rhythmic exercises, along with songs from different eras and styles. However, this is the first time that a Singing for the Brain session has taken place on the Severn Beach Branch line. 

Allison Johnston, Dementia Navigator with the Dementia Wellbeing Service said: “In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes and almost everyone knows someone whose life has been affected. Yet too many people face the condition alone without adequate support. Activities, like our singing on the train event, illustrated how taking action can help people affected by dementia to feel more included in their community and able to live the life that they want. 

“Staff on the train were very welcoming, and understanding, and took time to listen and chat to everybody. There was a lovely atmosphere and there were lots of smiles all round. We’re very grateful to staff from both Great Western Railway and the Severnside Community Rail Partnership who helped make this happen.

“One family in our party commented to me that this was the first time in many years that they had travelled by train together. It goes to show that if we all take small actions, for example to listen and be patient, then we can have a big impact on the lives of people affected by dementia.”

The renaming of Dementia Awareness Week to Dementia Action Week this year recognises that it is action that is urgently needed to help people with dementia and their carers feel included and not abandoned in their community. From continuing to invite people with dementia out, to making sure you listen and include them in conversations, people affected by dementia have told us what will make the biggest difference – and Alzheimer’s Society is asking everyone to take these actions this week.

The event was organised in partnership with Severnside Community Rail Partnership and with the help of Great Western Railway. 

To get involved this Dementia Action Week and pledge your support, visit their website.