Vivo Care Choices’ Makaton Choir has been in high demand since it launched at the start of 2022, taking part in regular performances at events across west Cheshire.
Makaton is a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to help people communicate.
The choir uses Makaton in all its performances and is made up of Vivo staff and people with learning disabilities and autism who access services.
The project was first set up as part of Vivo’s Work and Voluntary Enterprise (WAVE) programme, which helps people accessing services learn new skills to get them ready for volunteering or employment.
After those taking part in the WAVE programme gained so much confidence from the Makaton sessions, the choir developed and has gone from strength to strength since.
The choir now has 16 regular members, with five staff offering support, and has attended events like Vivo’s Employee Awards, Delamere Street Festival, Kaleidoscope Festival and much more.
Upcoming events include the Learning Disability Conference and festive celebrations, while the choir is working with Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Society and Hebdon Green School on projects for the new year.
Jackie, a Vivo member of staff who has been key to supporting the choir, said, “People we support have loved it so much, they continually requested to do it and it soon became a regular session for us to deliver.
“They work well together as a team – the laughter is infectious – and everyone involved is so enthusiastic.
“We are always being approached to do performances and the choir has developed further to introduce new, more complex songs.
“We’re currently learning a play that has been adapted to Makaton and this will be performed in December.
“The dedication that the staff team has showed is unbelievable, often sourcing songs and learning the signs in the evening and supporting the choir on evenings and weekends.
“This was only an idea I and another member of staff had after taking part in Level 2 Makaton training, but it’s completely spiralled since then.”
Gail, another Vivo member of staff, said, “Some members of the choir had a reputation for being quiet and keeping themselves to themselves, but they’re now some of the most enthusiastic performers to the delight of friends, family and staff.”
Beth, one of the dedicated choir members, added, “I love being part of a happy team.”
For more information about Vivo and the range of services it provides across west Cheshire, visit: vivocarechoices.co.uk
Image: Vivo’s Makaton Choir receive an award as part of Storyhouse’s Kaleidoscope Awards 2022