This chapter draws on data collected in the UK and Canada through two singing enclaves, one more formal, and one a project-based collective. So, let’s hear about these enclaves.
Canada: Surrey Place Centre
This is a specific clinical service with a distinct focus on responding to and improving people’s health and well-being needs. It is based in the city of Toronto, Canada, and is constituted of a largely interdisciplinary team of experts including psychologists, speech and language therapists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, counsellors and behavioural therapists. The focus of the centre is on providing help and support for children and adults ‘living with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and visual impairments’ to reach their ‘full potential’. The services also extend to family members, guardians, caregivers, alongside a range of community-based work in schools and community agencies. Whilst the majority of the services offered by the Surrey Place Centre are through referrals, the centre is committed to open access and allows for assessments of individuals to be made via referrals from family members, caregivers, community workers and self-referrals. The singing group, the ‘Symphonic Passion Chorus’, at Surrey Place Centre started as an idea from one of the speech-language pathologists, Bruce Edwards. Originally established in 2005, the group has since been facilitated by Bruce and fellow occupational therapist Christine Hein. The singing group is aimed at adults with mild to moderate developmental disabilities, often with no literacy skills. Since its inception it has grown from 14 to 30 members and 2—8 volunteers. In its public performances the group has performed to audiences as small as 40 and as large as 40,000. The choir sessions run once a week from September to December, and are two hours long (90 minutes singing, 30 minutes pizza dinner). The choir itself is not a specific well-being service offered by the centre, rather it is conceptualised more as a choir for interested people to make their lives more enjoyable and thus it doesn’t function as a ‘treatment’ in its own right. What follows in this chapter will offer an insight into the choir to explore the ways in which it potentially alleviates some of the distress the service users experience.