Acocks Green woman and special choir master new way to perform and communicate - The Solihull Observer

Acocks Green woman and special choir master new way to perform and communicate

Solihull Editorial 21st Dec, 2018   0

AN ACOCKS Green woman and her special choir is pioneering a new way to perform and communicate with others.

Linda Bates, originally from Solihull, has been working with SoLO Life Opportunities since 2014.

She founded the charity’s Makaton choir which uses a form of sign language to give the voiceless and the disabled a chance to perform.

Makaton is a slimmed-down form of British Sign Language used by those who need extra support while learning speech.




Linda’s 10-strong choir has developed from learning and performing three songs in a month to achieving this in a single day.

The choir’s members are aged between 18 and 31, with many suffering from Down’s Syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy.


Linda has been learning Makaton since 2011 and says it is crucial for society to expand its communicating abilities.

She volunteered at Reynolds Cross in Solihull where her mother had worked as a teacher.

After viewing a performance of White Christmas in an assembly – with children singing and signing – she became inspired to learn Makaton.

The 40-year-old said: “It profoundly moved me: every child and adult on the stage was part of a collective communication that went beyond an intellectual understanding of words into a shared emotional response to the joy of Christmas.

“If you imagine being thirsty or too hot or needing the loo and not being able to tell anybody, you can understand how frustrating an anxious that could make you feel.

“And sometimes that might come out in somebody as challenging behaviour, so the more we are able to communicate with everybody, regardless of their particular needs or challenges, the better the world is for people with additional needs.”

She added that it can be used to help those who have strokes to communicate again, she says it can even combat the effects of dementia.

Cbeebies’ comedian Justin Fletcher, from the programme Justin’s House, communicates in Makaton and Linda believes more children and teachers should be given the chance to pick it up.

The choir has been singing carols outside Dorridge Sainsburys to raise money for SoLO, they sang at a retirement party for charity chief executive Janet Down and concert for family and friends of the choir will round off the term.

The charity supports more than 1,300 vulnerable people in the borough – many who have severe learning and physical disabilities.

In one of the choir’s videos, which can attract tens of thousands of views, one of the members says, “I love seeing my friends”, while another says ‘I’ve learned so much.’

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