A singing project being piloted across Belfast is hoping to help stroke survivors to speak again.
East Belfast woman Ruth Adair took part in a taster session for ‘Singing for Stroke’ in June after suffering three mini strokes.
The 76-year-old praised the class for helping those “who struggle to talk” to find their voices through music in a Northern Ireland first.
Singing together and having fun can increase a person’s emotional wellbeing and improve memory, learning ability and self-confidence and has been shown to benefit people who have suffered stroke.
Mrs Adair said: “I thought it was just magical. I had a few mini-strokes over three years ago and I know I’ve been very lucky with my recovery compared to a lot of other people.
“Looking around the group during the singing, I noticed how everyone – even those of us who struggle to talk – really did their best to take part. I would love to see this happening in our group every week, it’s just fantastic.”
The pilot project, which is being funded with almost £8,000 from the the Big Lottery Fund, kicks off this September.
It will work provide structured singing and musical activity to four groups across the city, reaching 50 stroke survivors.
They include Belfast North and West group, Belfast South and East group, the Bangor group and the Newtownabbey group.
Stroke Association NI is looking for musical volunteers to help them cater for the groups.
Mark Dyer, Volunteering and Community Manager with Stroke Association NI, said: “The project funding will make it possible to train volunteer Singing Group Leaders who will bring a sense of energy, fun and an ease around people of differing abilities. They don’t need to be able to read music or play a musical instrument.
“They just need to have a keen interest in the subject and bring plenty of energy and imagination. Volunteers will receive training and equipment needed to make music and singing a sustainable part of the group’s programme of activities.”
In the months and years following a stroke, survivors often experience social isolation and poor mental health.