Last night, Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths AM, officially launched Sing with Us, an expansion of the Tenovus choir project which will now see fifteen choirs rolled out across Wales.
Sing with Us started in 2010 in Pontypridd and since then, has grown from strength to strength with over 80 members attending on a weekly basis. The success of this choir has resulted in Tenovus being awarded a ï¿¡1million grant from the Big Lottery AdvantAGE Scheme.
Speaking at the launch at the Wales Millennium Centre, Lesley Griffiths said:
â€œTenovus is leading the way in support and advice in Wales and I am delighted to be invited to endorse initiatives like Sing with Us, which are vital to making the difference between those affected by cancer feeling supported, cared for and understood to feeling lost, lonely and isolated.
â€œIt is our intention as a Government to work with Tenovus to ensure that their innovative approach to supporting cancer patients is understood and fully considered as part of our health and social care services planning.â€
We also announced our Sing with Us patron, Welsh musical star, Connie Fisher, who although was unable to attend the launch in person, recorded a short video pledging her support to the choirs. Connie said,
â€œThe Sing with Us project is a wonderful project which will help thousands of people across Wales cope with cancer. I have relatives who have suffered with cancer and supporting initiatives like this are an inspiration.
I am incredibly proud to become the patron of the project and will try to come along to as many rehearsals as my schedule allows me.â€
Nearly 18,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Wales, with 48 people diagnosed every day. The combination of increasing incidence of cancer, increasing survival rates and a disproportionately aging population means that by 2030 an estimated 200,000 people will be living in Wales with a diagnosis of cancer.
Being diagnosed with cancer creates a wide range of social and emotional problems, not only for the individual but for their family members and friends. A further problem faced by many is a lack of support once active treatment and support services come to an end which can result in feelings of isolation, depression and social exclusion.
There will be fifteen choirs by 2015, which will lead to supporting over 1,000 choristers who have been affected by cancer either as a patient, family member, friend or carer.
The first choir is already underway in Cardiff and will this week hold its third rehearsal, with the next choirs opening in Swansea and Cwmbran later in the Spring.
See Connie Fisher, Patron of Sing With Us, welcome the crowds at the Millennium Centre: