During this unprecedented time, many of us are experiencing isolation and being unable to see our friends and family for what may be the first time. However, for many of our children and young people at Birmingham Children's Hospital, and beyond, this is a familiar reality every day in hospital.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Chaplaincy Team has worked in conjunction with Ex Cathedra’s Singing Medicine Team to form, what is believed to be, the world’s first hospital-wide children and young people’s virtual patient choir, called the Lifting Spirits Choir.
By the very nature of being in hospital, children are often isolated and unable to come together to sing in a choir in the usual way. This project, filmed pre-coronavirus, uses technology to ensure that regardless of their condition or capabilities, they would be able to sing together.
Funded by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, Oak Foundation, Froebel Trust, Arts Council England and many others, this special project features 15 patients across our Children's Hospital and changes the beeps of hospital machines into music to which the children start to improvise.
The song is called Music Inside, and not only reflects music inside our heads and spirits affecting our moods, but also acknowledges that even outside of COVID-19 isolation, there are hundreds of children in hospital every day of the week.
Revd Paul Nash, Chaplaincy Team Leader, said:
“Both our chaplains and Singing Medicine sing regularly with patients and BCH Chaplaincy have run a staff choir for many years. Out of this experience, I had the idea of putting together a patient choir but knew it would have to be done differently, virtually.
“I initiated a conversation with Rebecca Ledgard from Ex Cathedra and we quickly found common values and complementary skills.”
Rebecca Ledgard, Director of Education for Ex Cathedra, said: "We are so pleased to be able to facilitate our patients to sing virtually together in the Birmingham Children's Hospital Lifting Spirits choir. The challenge was always for the Chaplaincy team and Singing Medicine, not the patients, to make a choir work with them in respect to their different ages, illnesses, conditions and capabilities. They are our inspiration.
"We hope that as you see the happiness on the faces of the original choir members, you too will have your spirits lifted. The skills of our recording and video editing team, we think, has produced something inspiring and hopeful for our time. We also look forward to sharing it with future patients for them to join in with and feel they belong as a part of this unique choir".
You can watch our children and young people perform below.