Salvation Army in Rugby launches ‘Singing by Heart’ group for people caring and living with dementia

published on 14 May 2018

Singing by Heart Dementia


Members of The Salvation Army in Rugby are launching a new local singing group after recently training to become ‘Dementia Friends’. Motivated by training from the Alzheimer’s Society at their citadel in Bennfield Road, local members of The Salvation Army are taking action by starting ‘Singing by Heart’ in the area; a singing group for local people living with dementia, together with their carers. 

Lee Highton-Nicholls from The Salvation Army who led the Dementia Friends session said: “The Alzheimer’s Society training helps to raise awareness and give people a better understanding of dementia. We have already delivered these sessions to many churches across The Salvation Army network”. 

Singing by Heart launches in Rugby during Dementia Action Week, (21 – 27 May). The initiative, which began in The Salvation Army in the Midlands last year, is now successfully rolling out across the country, providing a practical way to help people who live with dementia by encouraging them to join in song with their carers, families and communities. Songs include classics such as, ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ and well-known hymns like ‘Give Me Joy In My Heart’. 

The aim of Dementia Action Week is to take big and small actions to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Major Julie House, leader of The Salvation Army in Rugby explains how her congregation is taking action:

“We are committed to growing awareness about dementia in Rugby. We want to welcome people into our future activities within the community. We will be starting a singing group that will meet every fourth Tuesday in the month, called ‘Singing by Heart’. People living with dementia can come along with their carers. Singing by Heart is a chance to share the joy of singing with others through a mix of Christian and popular songs that most people would know. Singing really helps to make both a spiritual and mind connection and people really enjoy their time together.”

Many people know someone affected by dementia; for example, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to increase to over one million by 2025 and two million by 2051. There are now 40,000 people under the age of 65 with dementia.*

The Dementia Friends initiative aims to make communities more welcoming and accessible for people living with dementia. Lee said: “You may know someone on your street who you suspect is living with dementia, or you may have just found out a relative has dementia. Becoming a Dementia Friend gives you a better understanding of what life is like for people living with dementia and how you can support them.” 

Rugby Salvation Army Church follows a number of other Salvation Army churches to launch Singing by Heart in recent months. The initiative is the brainchild of the church and charity’s Older People’s Ministries and Music and Creative Arts teams, who wanted to develop something practical to help people living with dementia in the UK. 

The teams have developed a model for Singing by Heart, which is being replicated across The Salvation Army. The model includes a book of 30 memorable songs for groups to sing together. Research has proven that music can be therapeutic for people who live with dementia. 

Singing by Heart launches on 22 May at 2pm at The Salvation Army, Bennfield Road in Rugby during Dementia Action Week. More information is available, email: