Golden-Oldies Charity – All together now

The Golden-Oldies Charity provides fun and sociable daytime ‘Sing & Smile’ community groups, bringing older people together to support health, wellbeing and independent living.

Fondly known as ‘Goldies’, it was launched in Bath by local musician Grenville Jones, one of the UK’s foremost choir leaders, who understood the positive social effects of communal singing. From initially running four daytime sessions in 2008, by March 2020 the charity was running 220 groups across southern England, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Wales, led by 68 freelance leaders.

The population of England and Wales continues to age, with 2021 Census figures showing that there are 11 million people in the UK aged 65 years or older. Around the UK, millions of older people suffer from social isolation and loneliness: over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, whilst 60% of people aged 85 and over are widowed. Recent research suggests that nearly a quarter of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, and about 5 million say the television is their main source of company.

Goldies is determined to make a positive impact on the lives of older people, by providing opportunities to meet others and have fun while improving mental health and general wellbeing.

Prior to the Covid pandemic, Goldies was running 35 monthly Sing & Smile groups in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, taking place predominantly in open access central community venues, often in areas of high need and deprivation. Lockdown meant the temporary closure of these sessions which served over 700 people, many of whom live alone or with long term health conditions.

In response to this, the charity launched GoldiesLive, free online sessions designed to engage the many members isolating at home. This twice-weekly programme included sing-alongs with onscreen words; sessions targeting movement to music, chair-based exercise and yoga for relaxation; as well as health and wellbeing information from age-support organisations. GoldiesLive quickly established itself, registering up to 4,000 online engagements every month.

Despite this success, face-to face services were still in demand and in September 2021 the charity successfully relaunched 15 Sing & Smile sessions across B&NES, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Goldies applied to SMV in July 2022 to request funding to relaunch even more groups in areas where the sessions were needed most. SMV was delighted to provide funding of £2,880 to cover group leader costs and venue fees. The grant also facilitated a Covid-safe pilot project ‘Singing from Screens’, replacing songbooks with AV equipment to project song lyrics, encouraging a more immersive and interactive experience for all participants.

Goldies set about launching ten new monthly groups and four taster groups in B&NES, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Between August 2022 and April 2023, the charity ran 46 Sing & Smile sessions across those ten groups, reaching an additional 165 people; as well as 12 taster sessions, from which even more regular groups will be launched in the summer of 2023, connecting a further 60 people.

Goldies believes that regular attendance over the short and longer term is therapeutic and, in some cases, transformational, fundamentally changing people’s lives for the better. Research commissioned by the charity evidences how communal singing has a notable impact on both the participants’ psychological and physical wellbeing, reducing the incidence of loneliness and preventing social isolation. Participant feedback shows that attending sessions tangibly improves their state of mind: on average, four out of 10 attendees feel happy before a Sing & Smile session, but afterwards this figure increases to nine out of 10. Attendees point to the value of the friendships that are forged at the face-to-face events, stressing how the sociable atmosphere lifts their spirits and brightens their day.

“I lost my husband years ago and my friends have all passed. Goldies lifts me up, gets me out and meeting new friends. I sing and I laugh, I feel part of my community again. It means the world to me.”

Vera, a regular Sing & Smile attendee


To find out where your local Goldies Sing & Smile session takes place, please visit the WHERE page of or call the Goldies office on 01761 470 006.