A group of Allied Health Professionals and friends from Northern Ireland and beyond have come together to share some Christmas cheer and mark the end of this exceptional year.
Health and social care staff across the country have stepped up to a massive challenge this year and AHPs wanted to find a way to express their sincere gratitude to their colleagues and acknowledge the hard work and commitment that everyone has shown. There have also been limited opportunities for everyone this year to meet with colleagues informally and engage in self-care in the workplace.
Being well aware of the power of music to unite people and bring them together in a , three local AHPs – Ceara Gallagher (Speech and Language Therapy), Heather Turkington (Dramatherapy) and Jenny Kirkwood (Music Therapy) – came up with the idea to hold a one-off “AHP NI Christmas Choir” to create a chance to combine connection and good cheer, albeit virtually.
The choir ‘met’ over Zoom on two evenings at the beginning of the month. There was an overwhelming response and in the end we were joined by about 120 Allied Health Professionals and friends from across Northern Ireland, from HSC, private practice and the community and voluntary sector, and even some colleagues from England, Scotland and Wales, bringing all of their enthusiasm and Christmas cheer. We were blown away by the commitment and energy of those who joined us to sing along with their families, with some stunning Christmas costumes and dance moves for good measure! After the rehearsal colleagues recorded themselves singing the songs, and BSL and Makaton versions were recorded as well. With the incredible support of local artist Copper Kelly editing and blending the voices, the final recordings were made.
The two songs were chosen to reflect the energy and positivity of Christmas, and to bring a message of respect and hope at this time. Feedback from those who attend was positive and, while the choir only got together this time as a once-off for Christmas 2020, there are plans afoot to try and keep going, to share the gift of music as a way for colleagues to meet virtually and support each other in the coming months, and perhaps even to meet as an in-person choir when circumstances allow.
The key aim of the Allied Health Professions is to ‘support people to live their best lives’. We hope that this message of joy, hope and gratitude to all our HSC colleagues is a fitting end to 2020, a year that has been like no other.