Meet the inspirational Yorkshire woman using "singing therapy" to improve lives of Leeds cancer patients
A woman from Yorkshire is helping to cure long-term illnesses through the power of "singing therapy" in Leeds.
Shared Harmonies CIC was founded in 2013 by Emma Baylin, 43.
Now a full team with over 50 years of collective experience in musical composition, facilitation, organisational and community development.
Emma helps to lead innovative, creative corporate sessions focusing on workplace wellbeing, team building and leadership before reinvesting the profits to deliver "impactful community sessions supporting people with long-term physical and mental health conditions".
In Leeds the group runs sessions to help patients and residents with long-term respiratory conditions and also those affected by cancer.
The sessions give residents the tools for the "self-management of breathlessness through singing" with the aim of improving the quality of life for people with a chronic lung condition.
Speaking to the YEP, Emma said: "The value of singing as a tool for personal and organisational change is backed by scientific and medical evidence.
"Singing reduces the amount of stress hormone present in the body, releases positive neurotransmitters that produce feelings of happiness, wellbeing, companionship and even boost our immune system, as well as positively impacting on posture, breathing function and improving sleep.
"Over the last eight years, Shared Harmonies has developed proven techniques and delivery methods that have resulted in impressive qualitative and quantitative results in communities and companies."
Pre pandemic, Shared Harmonies also ran community singing groups for people living with dementia or struggling with mental health in Knaresborough and singing for Parkinson's patients in Elland.
The group are currently in communication with NHS respiratory teams and commissioners in various locations across Yorkshire to expand their 'Singing for Breathing' sessions to include people affected by 'Long Covid'.
Emma said the pandemic left the group "rethinking their strategy" to help Leeds residents.
She said: "Shared Harmonies developed a suite of community services incorporating weekly Facebook Lives, zoom sings and ring and sing sessions for those unable to get online.
"We had no idea how we would do it both in terms of technology and funding, but I knew I needed to keep services available to existing and new users alike that needed a lifeline of uplifting connection during the isolation that was to come."
Some of the Facebook Live sessions were engaged with thousands of time and went viral on social media.
Emma added: "We have engaged hundreds of community members and corporate employees during the last 16 months with participants describing the experience as “energising”, “uplifting” “relaxing” “inspirational” and “transformative”.
The group recently won a Community Spirit Award, in the Arts and Culture category by Calderdale Community Foundation.
In recognition of Emma's work in leading Shared Harmonies CIC in supporting communities through song during the pandemic, she was awarded a Point of Light award by the Prime Minister and invited to become a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Emma said: "When I look back at everything we have achieved over the last 16 months, the services we’ve developed, the number of people we've engaged, the awards we have won, I am so proud.
"But it’s the connection that warms my heart, the way we have grown as a team and as a community and the way we’ve held and supported so many people at home and at work through very hard times.
"Singing with others is magical and transformative and we can’t wait to share this with more people to come”