THE SMILING SESSIONS

THE BEGINNING

The Smiling Sessions is a participatory singing project for the elderly, devised by Shapeshifter Productions in 2011. The original team consisted of three talented musicians, Pete Baikie, Alison Jones and Dick Smith, who made weekly visits to residential sheltered housing schemes and care homes.

Originally funded by The Big Lottery – and being voted into the finals of The National Lottery competition-the sessions evolved into regular gatherings for local residents of Waltham Forest, who started to ask for their favourite songs to be played as memories and stories emerged. This resulted in the team developing a large-print songbook and recodring a CD for the residents to use after the project had finished. Six years later, Book Two with CD 2 were released and a third Book with CD 3 has just been released in June 2019, the fourth one is not far away!The Smiling team encourage song, laughter, friendship and story-telling that revive and warm the hearts of an isolated part of society that badly needs support, acknowledgement and inclusion.

THE FUTURE

Our partnership with NELFT NHS Redbridge in 2015 was extremely positive, delivering singing sessions at a community hall in Redbridge for independent clients who suffered from Mental Health issues. After being awarded a new grant from Red Nose – The Evening Standard Dispossessed fund, in 2017, we delivered sessions in the London Borough of Redbridge, maintaining our really good relationship with Sanctuary Housing, and also Waltham Forest and Newham, including a scheme called Amber Court ran by Genesis Housing for individuals 18+years with medium to complex care needs, such as autism, learning difficulties and other mental and physical impairments. After a steering workshop at Amber Court, encouraging residents to suggest songs, the Smiling Sessions team rehearsed more modern day songs alongside the golden oldies and create a new songbook which is an eclectic catalogue of songs. Thanks to Genesis Wellbeing Fund awarded in 2016, 2018 and also recently in 2019, we developed our partnership with Notting Hill Genesis Housing which takes us into the London Boroughs of Newham, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Lambeth, to meet more amazing residents who love to sing and share stories. Our fundraising for 2019-2020 has not only attracted support from Arts Council England for a fifth consecutive year, but also from Mercers‘, for 2 years, and City Bridge Trust for 3 years. Our fund-raising is an on-going necessity, so that we may continue growing and developing our work with new and established partners.

BOOK A SESSION

If you would like us to visit your residential care home or Social Housing Scheme please contact us in the following link.

WHY SUPPORT US?

Thank you to our generous donors and supporters as we continue to raise funds throughout 2019, which allows us to deliver over 72 sessions annually, reaching many more people and partners for the future!

Each year we need your help and support so that we can reach even more people. All donations are directed towards improving this project by either delivering more sessions or by breaking the barriers to make our sessions easily accessible and inclusive. It’s scientifically proven that music activities can significantly influence not only our emotional state, confidence and social skills but also cognitive abilities in cases of mental health. We are working tirelessly with other organisations, developing partnerships to impact the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Please support us by making a contribution that will touch the hearts and souls of elderly people in our local community.

Shapeshifter Productions currently receives very little core funding and so relies on fundraising and donations to support our work.
You can help us buying our “The Smiling Sessions CD” through Paypal, LocalGiving or sending us a cheque. The proceeds will go towards making more Smiling Sessions. More info HERE.Learn more about how to get involved with Shapeshifter Productions HERE

THE SMILING SESSIONS EVENTS

During the last seven years, the project has grown from strength to strength, attracting new partners who recognise the value of our work. We managed to establish long term relationships with esteemed organisations so that the residents (and carers) really benefited from the singing and inclusion which spills into their daily routine and sense of well-being.

Chadwell House
| The Smiling Sessions
Holmcroft House
| The Smiling Sessions
Summer Smiling Sessions
| The Smiling Sessions
Smiling Barbecue
| The Smiling Sessions
Chadacre Court
| The Smiling Sessions
Lawrence Hall
| The Smiling Sessions
Christmas Session 2016 at Turner´s Court
| Events | The Smiling Sessions

THE SMILING SESSIONS TEAM

Finally, our banjo player and backing vocalist, Dick Smith, left the team in July, after six years of dedication to this worthy project. We would like to thank him for his great musical contribution and many hours of being part of making people happy. His great musicianship is already missed by many of our residents. Meanwhile, Pete and Alison are training up new recruits! We would like to welcome Neil Herd as lead guitar as well as Rebecca Thorn on accordion and Adam Scott on guitar as new trainees.

ALISON JONES - Violin/Vocals

Alison is a musician, actress and composer.

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Her extensive work includes performing internationally for 2 years as featured solo violinist with Irish dance spectacular Spirit of the Dance and 7 years with The Well Oiled Sisters, whose popular schedule included touring with Morrissey;

Appearing regularly  around the world at WOMAD festivals; playing Edinburgh, PRIDE, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide & Perth Arts Festivals.

Alison works freelance for various groups, and  founded her charity Shapeshifter Productions in 2007,which subsequently produced and performed her outdoor spectacular  WILDFIRE! at St Andrews, Homecoming Scotland 2009.

As Artistic Director, Alison is focussed on promoting the aims of her charity, whose work has created The Smiling Sessions.

PETER BAIKIE - Guitar/Vocals

Scottish comedian and composer

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Pete Baikie is most famous for appearing in the British comedy sketch-show Absolutely. He composed the theme music, wrote the comedy songs, and  created several of the musical comedy characters.

As a TV composer, his credits include music for Shooting StarsIt’s Only TV… But I Like It and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Pete has won 4 Welsh BAFTAS for  ITV’s Barry Welsh is Coming and Hugh Pugh’s History of Wales He also produced Pub QuizThe Morwenna Banks Show and numerous editions of The Jack Docherty Show for C5, besides being bandleader. He was co-host of  Saturday Night Jack for Radio 2 in 2006.

Pete has recently become a voluntary counsellor with Ealing Abbey and Camden bereavement services. He loves playing for The Smiling Sessions!

NEIL HERD - Lead Guitar

Our new members of The Smiling Team.

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Neil is a solo artist, actor, broadcaster, production manager and educator. Known principally as a founder member of the bluegrass band “The Coal Porters”, who toured on the international circuit on a regular basis for the last 20 years, including Nashville, and SXSW and appeared live for Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2. For several years, Neil was a key producer for the BBC’s Blast project, making songs, radio comedy & drama with young people in disadvantaged communities across the UK. Neil currently lectures in songwriting and sound engineering at London College of Music. One of Neil’s favourite things about The Smiling Sessions is the opportunity it offers to play classic songs of the last 50/60/70+ years and engage with an audience who sing these songs from their very souls!

CONTACT INFO

If you would like us to visit your residential care home or Social Housing Scheme please contact us in the following link. violaine@shapeshifter-productions.com

Studio Office The Quaker Meeting House 1a Jewel Road, London, E17 4QU

+44 20 7018 2927

smiling@shapeshifter-productions.com

Our Partners: