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Homeless choir aims to boost people's confidence

[Press center8] time:2023-06-02 04:12:51 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center 1 click:51order

Homeless people are turning to a traditional Welsh pastime to help deal with everyday pressures and rebuild their confidence - choir singing.

Cardiff is one of the newest UK cities to host a branch of The Choir With No Name, an organisation set up for people who have experienced homelessness.

It aims to provide them a safe environment to "sing away their worries".

"We're not just a choir, we are a family," said Richard Sprake.

He was one of the first members when the Cardiff choir launched at the end of 2021 and said singing with a group has been amazing for him.

"The best thing is when we sing harmonies together. You can't get better than that.

"It's our souls and we all meet together."

Richard is a former heroin addict who said he has been "clean" for two-and-a-half years.

"After dealing with my addictions I faced challenges and the choir has helped," he said.

"I was a [holiday camp] Redcoat at one time when I was younger. But I had forgotten all about that.

"I have now found me again and I know who I am."

Richard lives in temporary accommodation but said music helped him deal with the stresses of homelessness.

"When you come from being with the choir, after singing for a few hours, you forget about your worries.

"You forget everything. It helps me with mental health, I feel I don't need medication or a table... I just need this."

Choir manager Oona Terrile said singing was an outlet which helps people facing the stress of waiting for accommodation.

"If you're facing homelessness or in temporary accommodation and stuck on waiting lists, it can be really worrying.

"A place like this is somewhere where you can come and not worry and share a meal... and let your hair down."

Helping people re-engage with their communities is vital, said Jamie Lee Cole of the Wallich homeless charity, which works in partnership with the choir.

"This is really important following periods of possible isolation, especially people sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation, where their networks may not be as pleasant as they were previously," she said.

The members meet for rehearsals and a free meal every Tuesday night at St Paul's Community Hall in the Grangetown area of the city, and said everyone - and all types of music - are welcome.

They are preparing for a concert in the city this month with the South Wales Gay Men's Chorus.

South Wales Gay Men's Chorus chairman Craig Stephenson said they "share the same sort of values... as Choir With No Name".

"It is just great to meet up once a week like this, and get strength from each other."

(editor-in-charge:Press center5)

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