This week we are shouting about a new choir starting in Swindon which will help support people living with mental health issues.

From September the Birch Tree Folk Choir will mix singing with meditation to assist people in tackling their mental health problems.

Leader of the Swindon choir, Ieva Purinasa said: “Music is such a powerful tool to help people to overcome mental health difficulties.

“The choir will largely concentrate on traditional folk songs, as the Birch Tree Choir is all about connection – to ourselves, or community, the place where we live, as well as our ancestors and people who lived in this place before us.

“The best way to establish this connection is through the songs and music once sung and played by the people who lived here before us’.

The singing group will meet every week at the Rodbourne Methodist Church, Rodbourne Road, SN2 2AX, from Wednesday, September 4 between 6.30-8pm.

Sessions will include a period of initial singing to warm up the vocal chords, followed by an interlude of meditation and relaxation in the middle. Sessions will end with upbeat songs to help everyone leave in a positive mood.

The choir will be supported by the local social enterprise Disability Experts CIC, who assist people with disabilities and mental health conditions to live independently.

CEO Martin Kelly said: “Music can be a really positive emotional trigger to improve mood. The choir will be something that will both treat problems but also be proactive in helping people from going into mental health decline.

“For the singers there will also be the feeling of accomplishment in doing something positive and constructive.

“It’s something for them to cling to, and continue to do when they might feel there is not have much going on for them in their lives.”

Members will be able to self-refer to the choir, or can be referred by their GP or through mental health organisations like Mind or IPSUM.

“The initial response we’ve had about this starting has been extremely positive, said Mr Kelly.

“There is currently no other service in Swindon providing this kind of thing, combining friendship, relaxation and a sense of belonging. We do anticipate the service will be well used.”

Ieva added: “You don’t need to be able to read music or a great singer. This choir is about fun, friendship and relaxation.”

The choir will be part of a larger network of The Birch Tree Folk Choir, which has branches across the south of England aiming to help improve and prevent mental health problems.