Monday, 28 September 2020

Charity honours volunteer for help during lockdown

Charity honours volunteer for help during lockdown

A MAN from Henley was awarded the title of volunteer of the month by a charity that supports disabled children and adults through the use of music.

Barrie Cree, of Gainsborough Hill, has been helping Soundabout in Didcot by building and managing its online presence since January.

Mr Cree’s work has been particularly important during the coronavirus lockdown because it has allowed vulnerable people to participate in the charity’s initiatives and prevented social isolation.

The initiatives include virtual inclusive choir recordings on Zoom and themed Facebook Live broadcasts that enable clients and their carers to interact and enjoy music.

The first of these involves the charity’s disabled users and their carers recording themselves singing and sending it back to the charity. These videos are then compiled to form a single recording comprising multiple submissions of the same song.

Practitioners trained in sign language lead the Facebook Live broadcasts and usually sing songs designed for people with disabilities while playing the keyboard or guitar.

The clients join in from home and their carers post comments on a live feed that are sometimes read by the practitioner and visible to everyone watching.

Mr Cree, who lives with his wife Jane, ensures the technology for the choir sessions runs smoothly and helped create two covers of Reach by S Club 7 and Fix You by Coldplay. He also keeps the charity’s website updated with interactive content and stories and works to increase the engagement on its social media channels.

Mr Cree, who plays bass guitar in a band called Up 2 No Good, said: “The nice thing about the recognition from the charity itself, and the things they say, is that had I not been able to help them through this period, they don’t feel they would have been able to help this many people or have this interaction.

“I’m not a person who goes looking for praise. To be honest, the biggest reaction to the work I get is seeing the feedback from all the people who have joined in.

“We’ve had parents sending us little videos of the person who is taking part and that’s the biggest thing for me. It has genuinely changed their lives during the lockdown period.”

Mr Cree wanted to get involved with the charity because he is self-employed and needed something to occupy his time.

He decided to support Soundabout because it needed marketing support and he has 40 years’ experience in advertising agencies.

The charity also uses music as a means to support the disabled.

Mr Cree said: “It involved music and disabled kids and they needed somebody in marketing. It was a real fluke that all these things came together.

“After 40 years working in an aggressive, competitive environment, I wanted to spend some time helping a charity to engage interactively with its participants, assist it to grow and be able to offer its services to even more people who really need them and appreciate its work.”

He said there was concern about how the charity would continue to function during the early days of the lockdown because many of the disabled people who use it are more likely to fall seriously ill if they contract the virus.

Mr Cree said: “It had to shut down every single one of the services that it offers. What we did was move every single thing into a virtual environment.

“I’m a marketing person and because I have always done a lot of digital work, I worked with them to help move all their different services to virtual platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

“I do all the management of the website and worked out ways to embed all the video content into the site.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cree is helping to market a TV pilot episode about a group of patients who pull together to find their missing psychiatrist.

Little Room was filmed and edited during the lockdown and the story plays out on a platform that is designed to look like Zoom.

None of the cast met in person and they did their own filming and make-up. The professional actors include Claes Bang, Grace Van Patten, Ian Harvie, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Nicole Ansari-Cox, Josephine Butler, Mariella Frostrup and Brian Cox.

Viewers who stream the episode are asked to make a donation to film and TV relief funds and can watch it via its website. Visit pinpoint
presents.com/littleroom

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