* UPDATE autumn 2016: Stephen Mitchelson has left Spitz to work elsewhere
A NEW CHARITY shop in Hackney is selling vintage stuff to raise money so the people behind it can take music to sufferers of dementia, that dread word we now all seem to know.
The premises of the Spitz in Kingsland Road, fast becoming a draw for retro-lovers as more charries open there, have been provided rent-free by a nearby business.
Spitz founder Jane Glitre points out that coping with the consequences of ageing is an issue that affects us all, be it dealing with old grandparents, parents or even oneself.
She adds: “As the UK’s population rapidly ages, the issue of acute loneliness and social isolation is one of the biggest challenges for society.
“It increases the risks of death and illness in elderly people.”
The Spitz takes a programme of live music that includes participatory, exploratory and performance strands to care homes and other places and it can, says Glitre, “penetrate the fog of illness, Alzheimer’s and dementia”.
Colleague Stephen Mitchelson tells Loving Dalston: “There is some evidence that music can help demented people. And we’ve seen it.”
At one session a woman pushing a walking frame had come into the room. Within minutes she was dancing energetically. “It was,” says Mitchelson, “as though she were young again.”
The next stage is to cross generations. It can have unexpected benefits. An old woman in a home had told the Spitz volunteers that she didn’t like music, hated it. She ostentatiously and stubbornly sat outside the room where the music was happening.
One of Jane’s young nephews, Stanley, started chatting to her and before you knew it, she had gone with him to enjoy the musicians playing in the next room. Now, whenever something similarly cross-generational happens, they call it a “Stanley”.
More Stanleys are needed: 800,000 people in the UK are believed to have dementia.
If the name Spitz seems familiar, you may have heard your parents mention it when Glitre ran the music-and-art venue of that name in Commercial Street E1 6BG.
In the decade since it opened in Spitalfields several thousand acts featuring world and other adventurous music played at the Spitz. Music-lovers were shocked when it lost its premises in 2007 because the City wanted to redevelop Old Spitalfields Market.
David Altheer 140914
* The Spitz charity shop, 466 Kingsland Road E8 4AE. Lots of musical items on sale, including piles of vinyl records.
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