“Belt It Oot!” is a community singing project delivered by New Rhythms for Glasgow and funded by the Health Improvement Team of North West Sector, Glasgow Community Health Partnership (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde).
It is now widely accepted that there are benefits to both physical and mental health and wellbeing from singing, and that singing as part of a group can help combat social isolation, contribute to a sense of being part of society and help individuals connect to each other, and to their surroundings.
“Belt it Oot!” aims to encourage opportunities for people who may be at risk of social isolation to come together in groups to sing, free of charge. It has established partnerships with local organisations, who work with vulnerable people in the community and supports the development of singing as part of the services that are offered. It does this through a training and mentoring scheme that links musicians (Trainee Singing Leaders) with local workers/volunteers (Community Singing Practitioners) and provides weekly workshops. An important component of the project is that after the programme, the local workers are left better equipped to sustain singing within their organisation. The emphasis of “Belt it Oot!” is on encouraging singing as an inclusive and enjoyable activity rather than on polished performances with songs being taught by ear so there is no requirement to read music or to have a high degree of literacy. There are also plans to hold a “Celebration” event at the end of the programme to bring the participating groups together to showcase the singing and to earn some money for a second wave of “belt it Oot”.
Belt it Oot currently works with service users from a range of services including but not exclusively, mental health support, learning disability support, elderly care, single parent networks and addiction recovery support services.