A choir is pleading for help from the community and Greenwich Council to keep it going after losing its free rehearsal space at Woolwich Town Hall.
The Woolwich Singers have been forking out £60 per session to hire space from Greenwich University at the nearby Bathway Theatre after the council took over its hall for Covid testing.
On top of fees paid to the pianist and musical director, the hire fees have left the choir asking for donations on GoFundMe to keep the group going.
Anne Reyero, a trustee of Woolwich Singers, said the 10-year-old group had become a “lifeline” after she took retirement.
She said: “Going to the choir weekly has been a fabulous support. I look forward to it every week for the community, support, spirit and singing.”
Reyero said the council had been “superb” in trying to help the group, but the singers 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 Reyero 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 have 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’re still charging us a fee.
“We’ve had a couple of councillors on board and they can’t swing anything either, even though they’re trying really hard.”
In her eight years with the group, Reyero said a particular high point was a Christmas singalong at a community lunch for the homeless at a nearby community centre.
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 and 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 Greenwich Council 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 centres 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.”
Kiro Evans is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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