'Musical medicine' at friendship lunches is just what the doctor ordered!

Singer Oliver Harris with guest Joyce GoodisonSinger Oliver Harris with guest Joyce Goodison
Singer Oliver Harris with guest Joyce Goodison
FRIEINDSHIP lunches designed to tackle loneliness and isolation in the community are proving so successful they are now being 'socially prescribed' on the NHS.

Social prescribing is an approach that connects people to activities, groups, and services in their community to meet the practical, social and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing.

Freelance community consultant Kathy Markwick launched the 'Music Makes Memories' events in South Yorkshire seven years ago, with the inaugural Rotherham event in Kimberworth in 2021.

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Since then the dementia-friendly social events have sprung up across the borough at The Storyteller in Parkgate and Toby Carvery Rotherham, with the Sitwell Arms in Whiston the latest location.

Advertiser reporter Jill Theobald (second left) attended the inaugural Rotherham friendship lunch with founder Kathy and singer Oliver (back row) in November 2021 (photo Dave Poucher)Advertiser reporter Jill Theobald (second left) attended the inaugural Rotherham friendship lunch with founder Kathy and singer Oliver (back row) in November 2021 (photo Dave Poucher)
Advertiser reporter Jill Theobald (second left) attended the inaugural Rotherham friendship lunch with founder Kathy and singer Oliver (back row) in November 2021 (photo Dave Poucher)

Kathy said: "I am extremely proud of the success of the events which aim to combat/reduce loneliness and social isolation.

“I have so many examples of guests who confirm they are hugely beneficial, particularly for the elderly, lonely and/or socially isolated.”

Joyce Goodison (95) is now a regular guest at many of the events across South Yorkshire.

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She said: "Following a stay in hospital in Rotherham, my dietician recommended that I attend the friendship lunches but I declined as I felt too old.

“However, I decided to give Kathy a call and, to cut a long story short, I now go to many of her events across South Yorkshire.

“Janet Thornton is a co-organiser of the events and she has become a special friend - she is so kind and helpful to everyone.

“She calls me on a regular basis and actually takes me to and from events as she lives nearby.

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“I am just so pleased that I had second thoughts about attending and I would strongly recommend the events to anyone who is elderly, lonely, single and/or socially isolated.

“Kathy is caring and always ready to help anyone."

Kathy said: "I am beyond delighted for Joyce and all the other guests who now have something to look forward to, something to get dressed up for and an opportunity to meet old and make new friends.

“Our regular performer, the amazing Oliver Harris, has also become a really good friend to Janet and myself and to all our guests.

“Oliver goes down an absolute storm at all our events.

“We like to call it 'musical medicine' – it is a wonderful prescription which undoubtedly helps to combat or reduce loneliness and social isolation.

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“The events are also dementia friendly and offer invaluable respite to many families and carers.

“Those living with dementia may not remember the event afterwards but they undoubtedly enjoy the moment and that is hugely important for them, their families and carers and to Janet, Oliver and myself.”

Special guests joining the events to date include the Mayor and Mayoress of Rotherham Cllr Robert Taylor and wife Tracy at the Toby Carvery in Rotherham, while former Coronation Street actress Rita May described the first friendship lunch held at the Sitwell Arms in Whiston as a “most uplifting experience.”

For further information about the events or to discuss sponsorship, contact Kathy on 07729 528844 or [email protected].