Thursday 28 July 2016
Birthday celebrations are taking place this week for Singing 4 Breathing, a group set up by University of Northampton Occupational Therapy students to help people diagnosed with respiratory conditions. The group are celebrating their first birthday – an achievement which has been noted by Her Majesty the Queen, who sent them a note to thank the group’s founders and mark the occasion.
The Singing 4 Breathing group meets weekly at Parklands Community Centre in Northampton, and welcomes people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – a lifelong condition that affects the lungs making it difficult for people to breathe. The group’s origins lie in a student project, and an initial run of six musical sessions which proved so successful that the group has continued. The project has made a profound difference to local residents’ health thanks to the natural lung exercise singing can bring.
Singing 4 Breathing held a special birthday party on Wednesday 27 July after their regular singing class, which was attended by group members, partners including Northampton General Hospital’s RESTART team, BBC Radio Northampton, friends and family members. The group sang songs including Do-Re-Mi and Loch Lomond, before enjoying birthday cake and a buffet.
The group was founded by recent University of Northampton graduate James Wyatt, who started the group as part of his course work. James is now an Occupational Therapist at St Andrew’s and a member of the College of Occupational Therapists. He explained: “We wanted to provide occupational therapy for local people coping with a specific condition. There was nothing available for those with COPD, yet it’s one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK. We are amazed at how popular it’s been. We are hugely grateful for all the support we’ve received from the university and local community.”
Maria Selby, 65, who has had a double lung transplant, is a member of Singing 4 Breathing. She said: “The teacher has taught us how to breathe when singing. It makes you feel so happy and joyful. I never knew I could sing a tune. It’s so amazing when you think you can’t speak because you have COPD, and yet you can sing.”
Karin Orman, Professional Practice Manager, College of Occupational Therapists said: “Singing is an occupation that many people enjoy and there are huge mental, physical and social benefits to being in a choir. If lung capacity is improved it’s much easier to take part in daily occupations, get out of the house, meet people, do the activities you enjoy.”
Members of the Singing 4 Breathing group range from those who are newly diagnosed to those recovering from double lung transplants. COPD causes long-term damage to the lungs and can lead to chronic breathlessness. It accounts for 1.4 million GP consultations and one million inpatient bed days annually, costing the NHS more than £800m each year.