Doorstep Carols is back this year – and with an ever-growing list of mega organisations jumping on board, it looks set to be Britain’s biggest ever carols singalong.
Carols on the doorstep brought people together in the midst of the pandemic last year. Broadcast on over 30 local radio stations, it led to wonderful scenes of families singing on doorsteps, sharing mulled wine over the fence with neighbours and children playing instruments in front gardens. An estimated 125,000 people took part, raising over £10,000 for MIND UK and local charities, with collections at street level.
This year, Doorstep Carols 2021 is a supercharged nationwide event, taking all of the street magic of last year across the country whilst also reaching out to those who are isolated. Around 25 local BBC radio stations and BBC Sounds will again broadcast the pre-recorded backing tracks to well-known carols and Christmas songs so that the nation can sing in unison. Streets taking part are encouraged to use the opportunity to raise money for a charity of their choice.
A host of national organisations and celebrities are jumping on board as this event grows, supporting the British public in what is expected to become a record-breaking singalong. Internationally renowned British conductor Suzi Digby and Sir Tim Rice are also backing the event.
The ‘epicentre’ event will be in Shrewsbury, where Doorstep Carols originated, with Carols in the Square hosted by BBC Radio Shropshire, linking with doorsteps and other hub events across the country.
In Birmingham, Ex Cathedra will be leading singing from the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, linking up with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals and Ladywood community singing group is also joining in and there are plans for a giant singalong in Civic Square. Hoo Farm in Telford will even have its reindeers join in!
Trafalgar Square is booked for a massed Doorstep Carols singalong with Popchoir, and The Spread a Smile Choir, which is made up of patients, their siblings and friends, are set to sing outside Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Rhythm Studio and Project Get Singing are also engaging communities and choirs across London and beyond.
Canterbury and Winchester Cathedrals are also involved as well as churches, choirs, hospices, schools and care homes across the UK, and the Military Wives Choirs are linking with the military engagement branch to enable overseas soldiers to sing with their loved ones at home for the first time in history.
Doorstep Carols organiser Katy Rink said: “Last year we saw some wonderful scenes up and down the country, with people joining in on their doorsteps and having a good time with their neighbours.
“We’re delighted that local BBC radio stations are on board again this year so that people should be able to tune in wherever they are. It’s about celebrating the joy of singing together – sharing the experience and strengthening communities.
“The capacity for this event to glue communities together is exciting – It’s so simple and absolutely free.”
“This year will hopefully be more of a street party festival atmosphere, with neighbours able to celebrate and sing together,” says co-organiser Beth Heath.
The message behind the magic is a serious one following restrictions on collective music and performance. Doorstep Carols 2021 aims to remind the nation of the social and psychological benefits of singing together.
Adding his support Sir Tim Rice said: "I hope that singing en masse will remind us that music, especially vocals, can bring everyone together whether in unison or harmony. We must not let recent troubles make us fearful of using our voices.”
Rebecca Smith at Link for Good, supporting Doorstep Carols, says: “This event will bring people together to sing in their communities, but it will also provide a musical connection for people who are isolated. Children in hospital will sing from the wards knowing that they are singing with their loved ones.
“Care home providers across the UK are working to engage hundreds of care homes enabling elderly residents to sing along knowing that they are singing with the nation. Everyone can tune in and join in with this collective singing event.”
Doorstep Carols is partnering with multiple charities that recognise the value of music in the work that they do. These include Youth Music, Dementia UK, Demelza Children’s Hospice, MindUK, Spread a Smile, Ex Cathedra and others.
Rebecca adds: “Collective singing plays a significant role in positive group identity; it creates a sense of social inclusion in a world fractured by the pandemic. By encouraging people, particularly children, to sing together again we are providing a reminder of the social and psychological power of collective song. This year between 6-7pm on December 15th no one need feel alone because we can all sing together.”
Helen Hampton, Director of Popchoir, one of the largest community-based choirs based in London, said: “Popchoir will be leading a massed choir under the tree at Trafalgar Square as part of the Doorstep Carols nationwide event. We invite everyone, whether choirs, individual singers, families or colleagues, to come and join us for this hour of festive music and the opportunity to sing some favourite carols together in this iconic setting under the Christmas Tree.
“We know the enormous value of singing together with others - the health benefits are enormous and well reported - from improvement in respiration (especially important during this pandemic) to all the mental health and well-being benefits that come from singing and making music with other people. We are therefore delighted to be advocates and leaders for this wonderful nationwide initiative to get the whole country singing together at this lovely time of year when being together means so much to us all. We want everyone to be part of this event and we encourage everyone to join in and sing wherever they are. So, if you’re in London, why not come on down, to sing with us. It will be an amazing night and you’ll be part of something very special.”
Collette Spinner of Spread a Smile Choir, said: “We are very excited to be involved in such a wonderful event and I know from my choir’s point of view, especially for those who will be unable to join us perform live due to being in hospital, to be able to join in still via zoom or other platforms is just so wonderful.”
Laura Booth, Artistic Planning & Engagement Manager for Military Wives Choirs, said: “The Military Wives Choirs are hugely proud to be taking part in Doorstep Carols 2021. With a network of nearly 2000 women in 72 choirs across the UK and internationally, we celebrate a love of singing and the power of shared experiences. Our network welcomes all women whose lives are currently impacted by their military connection, and many will spend Christmas away from their loved ones; Doorstep Carols will give the opportunity to not only share in a hugely uplifting musical experience, but also to feel that little bit closer to the loved ones they will be missing at this special time of year."
Gemma King, Education and Participation Manager for Ex Cathedra, said: "Ex Cathedra Singing Medicine team are proud and excited to support Doorstep Carols in 2021.
“We hope that Doorstep Carols will help to bring families together, as they join in from home or online with their children, at a time when hospital visiting is limited and families cannot be together in the traditional sense. Through Doorstep Carols, we hope to bring Singing Medicine to all who join us."
Visit www.doorstepcarols.co.uk for more information and to find out how to tune in, download the words and music and sing along on Wednesday, December 15th at 6pm!
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