Plymouth Music Zone



Award amount: £48,625

Organisation: Plymouth Music Zone

 ‘Sounds with Soul’ Project

This two year grant was awarded to Plymouth Music Zone (PMZ) to deliver weekly music making sessions in six residential care home settings, which included residents with dementia and those reaching the end of their lives.

The aim of the ‘Sounds with Soul’ project was to improve the health and wellbeing of older people in the following ways:

Outcome 1: Reduce social isolation through increased access to music based activities and digital technology that improves social skills, life chances and choices.

Outcome 2:  Increase emotional wellbeing, enabling them to feel more independent and able to survive difficult times with enhanced health and quality of life.

Outcome 3:  Improve musical skills, leading to recordings and performances that make them feel more valued, empowered and more active in their ‘communities’ as a result.

Over the two years, 165 participants benefitted from the project. It has had an enormous impact on these beneficiaries, as evidenced by the following quotes:

“When I first came to the home I couldn’t speak for 3 months. My son said go down and join in, mum, you know you love singing. So I did. Now I’m speaking and singing. It’s all down to you and the music. There was no pressure to sing well, just to join in and enjoy it and I gradually built my voice up”.

I love this group. Coming here to sing with other people has meant everything to me. It’s just made so much difference in a short space of time.  My husband has dementia now as well and I seem to lose a bit more of him each week.  When I’m here, I can stop thinking about it, just for a little while.”

Observations undertaken during the project showed participants, with speech impediments as a result of Stroke, Brain Injury or Dementia, had gradually improved their vocabulary.

One carer noted:

“Since she has been coming there have been improvements (in her speech) that I can only put down to PMZ.”

Participants were also involved in PMZ’s ‘Keep Singing, Keepsake’ recording project, ‘Songs for Sharing’ that allowed many of them to see themselves on film and hear themselves recorded for the first time. They were then able to share the recordings with their families and friends. The film was also shown in each of the residential homes for the residents who weren’t involved. Participants were completely absorbed by the film and impressed at what they and their peers had produced, leading to them feeling more empowered and valued. Some of the participants that attended sessions funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust also starred in PMZ’s ‘Pass the Baton’ animated film.

Plymouth Music Zone is fast becoming one of the leading charities that focuses on the benefits of the arts to health and wellbeing. PMZ’s successful work with singing and older people in residential homes became a feature Case Study of the 3 year ESRC/DCMS funded ‘What Works Wellbeing’ Evidence Review programme that involves Brunel University, University of Winchester, London School of Economics and the University of Brighton. Plymouth Music Zone also submitted a Practice Example of its work to the evidence review of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing which is now being picked up on by other organisations. The Director of Wellbeing and Mental Health at Public Health England (PHE), Greg Henderson, highlighted Plymouth Music Zone as a successful case study of how to deliver to marginalised groups.

Funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust was instrumental in leveraging further support from other funders, enabling PMZ to deepen and develop its work with more vulnerable older people and continue this project.

This grant enabled PMZ to extend its work to some of the most isolated and vulnerable older people. The results of the project have shown that powerful, meaningful local work has much to teach others on a national stage about the importance of trying to shape new solutions in a committed and respectful way with marginalised communities.


The Dunhill Medical Trust
5th Floor
6 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6AB

Telephone: 020 7403 3299