It was a sad and sorry sight when clubhouses, theatres and church halls were mothballed during the lockdown. Places that once buzzed with activity sat empty; the groups who once occupied them hit for six by social distancing rules.
But we’re glad to see many sports clubs are up and running again – albeit with fewer volunteers and a long list of new health and safety rules to follow.
And we’re keeping our fingers crossed that choirs and am-dram groups will be able to meet in person again soon. Here are three reasons why these groups are so crucial to local communities and why we should all support them.
They help battle the bulge
In a perfect world, we all would have emerged from lockdown with guns like Serena Williams and buns like Joe Wicks. But for many of us (sheepish cough), it didn’t happen. We ate more and exercised less.
The trend was particularly startling among young people. A study* of children and teens in Verona, Italy, found that during lockdown they ate more (an additional meal per day), slept more and spent an extra five hours a day on screens. The only thing that decreased was physical activity – down by more than two hours per week.
Grassroots sports clubs play an essential role in the physical well-being of the nation. In the UK there are 150,000 sports clubs with eight million regular participants. They help build social bonds and play a vital role in the fight against obesity.
Some people are snobbish about amateur dramatics, but we’re not too proud to say we find Widow Twankey swanky.
Am-dram brings people together and makes theatre accessible and affordable to all. Many people’s introduction to the theatre will come via a trip to their local panto.
There are about 2,500 am-dram groups associated with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association and many more smaller community arts groups in the UK. They deserve our support.
As well as providing entertainment, they help many people develop their artistic talents. Some like Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ben Kingsley and Keira Knightley go on to become household names. Those who don’t wind up in the West End or Hollywood still gain confidence and social skills.
Many am-dram groups are yet to return to in-person rehearsals, leading us to wonder if we’ll get to enjoy a panto this Christmas. We’d love the answer to be “Yes we will!” but in truth, it’s probably too early to say.
Mental health boost
Research published by the Royal Society found that singing improves mental health and well-being. This is because when we sing, feelgood hormones called endorphins and the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin are released.
About 2.14 million people regularly sing in choirs, and there are about 40,000 singing groups in the UK (pre-lockdown figures from the Voices Now charity). All have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Thankfully, many have continued to meet virtually during the pandemic, and we look forward to the day when they can return to live performing.
Here are three simple ways you can support local groups.
1) Help promote local sports groups and teams online by giving them a mention on social media.
2) Commit to buying a ticket for the first round of your local drama group’s performances when showtime comes around again.
3) Get involved. One thing Covid-19 has taught us all is that life is precious, and this isn’t a dress rehearsal or a warm-up. Why not volunteer to coach at a local sports club or to help out at a local theatre, choir, or art group?
Here at Belvoir we’re proud to be part of the local community. We’re here to help and support during these difficult times.