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Singing Mamas: Why is a choir of mums being prescribed on The NHS?

Olympic gold medalist and TV presenter Sam Quek has discovered how a group of singing mums led by an inspirational local nurse has become a social prescribing tool to combat postnatal depression.

A group of mothers from Singing Mamas with their babies in a circle.
A group of mothers from Singing Mamas with their babies in a circle.

Singing Mamas was started by Kate Valentine in 2010, who is the special guest in the latest edition of The National Lottery’s Amazing Starts Here podcast series hosted by Sam Quek.

Back then, Kate was a mother of young children and singing in a group was how she managed stress, and found connection and joy.

When her family relocated to a new area she couldn’t find a choir where her children would be welcome, and like many mothers didn’t have the option of going without them. A friend persuaded her to start a singing group where mothers could bring their little ones and singing mamas was born.

The movement grew by word of mouth. Women heard about this group through friends and wanted to go to one near them. Kate, who is based in Forest Row, East Sussex began to train other women in how to step into leadership and build song-sharing communities that improved health and wellbeing. Over the last decade Kate has trained more than 100 other women to deliver the Singing Mamas across the UK.

With the help of National Lottery funding from Arts Council England, the Singing Mamas network has spread across the UK in the last 13 years and its growth saw Kate leave the NHS to focus on expanding its reach and training facilitators.

Speaking to Amazing Starts Here host, Sam Quek, who is a mother to two young children herself, Kate revealed the organisation now partners with The NHS as a form of social prescribing, with 90 women referred in the first three months of 2022 to combat postnatal depression and anxiety.

Given her job, Kate felt strongly that the joy and community of being in a singing group can help mothers in distress.

She said : “We exist because suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and one year after birth, and because singing is clinically proven to reduce symptoms of postnatal depression faster than the usual forms of treatment.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps charities like Singing Mamas continue to carry out incredible work in their communities.

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