Sheffield choir delighted at being able to sing together for at least another year

A Sheffield choir is helping people from all walks of life and parts of the world feel at home through singing.
Sheffield One World Choir at one of their previous performancesSheffield One World Choir at one of their previous performances
Sheffield One World Choir at one of their previous performances

People may have wondered where the songs were coming from as they walked past The Sanctuary on Chapel Walk on a Wednesday afternoon.

That would be the voices of Sheffield One World Choir.

Akoi Bazzie is the founder and also a member.

He believes that singing is a platform for sharing stories, getting people out of the house and discovering hidden talents.

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Akoi said: “Here there is a spirit of welcome. No-one is a refugee. Being a refugee is just a situation. When you take that way, you see the real person. The more you interact with others, the more you learn about yourself.”

The 35 members of the choir include local people, refugees and asylum seekers.

They sing a range of songs and not just in the English language, which reflects the diversity of the individuals in the choir.

One member, who did not want to give her name, was not interested in joining the choir at all initially.

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She said: “I was invited by my housemates to come but now I love coming and look forward to coming. People are friendly and you feel at home. Life can be so stressful but here you can relax the mind and relate to people.”

Mado Khan, another member of the choir, joined because she heard that singing could be good for her asthma and admits she ‘loves it’.

Originally from Pakistan, Mado came to Sheffield because her father wanted his children to have the best education so relocated to the UK, choosing to settle in Sheffield.

She said: “I love Sheffield, it’s a friendly place. We have everything here and there’s lots happening.”

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The group meets up at The Sanctuary every week to do the one thing that they all love.

Led by Emer McKay on a voluntary basis, the choir started in early 2018.

Emer told how she started volunteering to support asylum seekers and a couple of individuals approached her about the idea of starting a choir.

When The Sanctuary opened, Emer described it as a ‘springboard’ for launching Sheffield One World Choir, which has continued to grow over the past year.

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Sheffield One World Choir is an inclusive community, but this could not happen without the generosity of charitable donations.

Emer’s husband, Jon Cowley who is in his 70s, was one of four men who over a period of 28 days, cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the choir.

They set off on June 10 and arrived at their destination on July 12.

The men’s cycle challenge has helped raise over £3,000 so far, which will ensure that Sheffield One World Choir can continue to sing together for at least another year.