Woolwich choir on its knees pleads for support from council

A London choir on its knees has pleaded for help from the council and community to keep it going.

The Woolwich Singers have faced financial difficulty after losing free rehersal space at Woolwich Town Hall due to the pandemic.

The hall was needed for Covid testing, leaving the choir to fork out £ 60 a session at the University of Greenwich.

On top of fees paid to the pianist and musical director, it has left the choir reaching out for donations on GoFundMe to keep the group going.

Woolwich Singers face financial difficulty after losing their free weekly rehearsal space due to the pandemic (Anne Reyero)

Now in its 10th year, trustee of Woolwich Singers Anne Reyero has described it as a “lifeline” and an important community force.

She said: “The choir has been going for 10 years and I’ve been with the choir for eight of them, and about five years ago I retired. It’s quite a culture shock, retirement.

“For me, it’s been a lifeline. Going to the choir weekly has been fabulous support and becoming a trustee is almost like a part-time admin job, which I enjoy enormously so it’s kind of eased me through the transition of retirement. I look forward to it every week for the community, support, spirit and singing. ”

She added the council had been “superb” in trying to help the group, but they had not yet heard anything about regaining their free rehearsal space.

Locals have rallied behind the group since the donation page opened earlier this year, but Anne worries for the future if contributions dry up.

She said: “It could be quite difficult. We’re trying to negotiate space that is slightly cheaper, fingers-crossed we’re hoping to get it down to £ 48 a week.

“If people stopped coming, we would be in trouble paying [the pianist and musical director] and that would add to our problems.

“We’ve applied for several council-funded properties with rehearsal space, and they’s still charging us a fee.

“We’ve had a couple of councilors on board and they can ‘t swing anything either, even though they’re trying really hard.”

In her eight years with the group, Anne says a particular high point was the Christmas sing-along at a community lunch for the homeless at Woolwich community center.

Members pay a weekly £ 5 fee to fund the choir which is open to people of any ability. The no-audition choir opts for a mixture of traditional and popular songs.

Other members of the group give it glowing praise on the GoFundMe page.

One said: “I’ve found a strong support network & feel that I’m part of a positive community.”

Another added the choir brought them “joy” while another member said “everyone is accepted and valued for what they can contribute.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Greenwich said: “Due to Covid-19 the council has been unable to provide rehearsal space to Woolwich Singers at the town hall.

“We have helped the choir in the interim to try and source a new space, including suggesting local businesses, community centers and contacts that may accommodate them.

“The council has also suggested other fund-raising opportunities including small-scale projects, sponsored activities and linked Woolwich Singers with our voluntary and community sector bid writer.”

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

Leave a Comment