Anglia Ruskin University: Barriers and benefits of joining Military Wives Choirs

A new research project between Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and the Military Wives Choirs is studying the benefits of singing, as well as examining the barriers to joining its choirs faced by women in the military community.

The year-long project, which will see ARU’s Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI) working in tandem with ARU’s Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), also aims to produce a monitoring tool to enable the charity to evaluate the impact singing in a choir has for its members.

The Military Wives Choirs has around 2,000 members across 72 choirs in military bases in the UK and overseas. Anecdotally, members have consistently reported the benefits of joining the choir to their wellbeing.

Choir member, Leanne, said:

“Joining the choir was the first time I did something as ‘me’ since having my first child four years earlier. I began to make friends, making my posting feel more like home. Was it scary walking through the doors four years ago? Yes! But within the first few weeks, it became the place where I knew I’d find a smile, a hug, a brew and a chat too. It has always been so much more than the singing!”


Alex Creamer, Welfare & Organisational Development Officer at the Military Wives Choirs, reports:

“We consistently hear stories from choir members like Leanne for whom taking the first step to joining a choir was a daunting experience. This research will enable us to gain a deeper understanding into the reasons women in the military community don’t join a choir, or why they might not know choir is a place for them.

“The outcomes of the research will help us to build a recruitment campaign to access these women, and to break down the perceptions they might have of the Military Wives Choirs.”


The partnership will provide the Military Wives Choirs with a rich understanding of its network and how its members benefit from taking part.

Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Director of the CIMTR, said:

“We are honoured to be part of this essential collaboration furthering the understanding of how music contributes to the wellbeing and quality of life of those who support the military workforce.

“We are thrilled about the mutual collaboration and enrichment which will happen through working with Military Wives Choirs and the VFI.”


Matt Fossey, Director of the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI) at ARU, said:

“This is an important collaboration that will gives us meaningful insights into the positive contributions that music makes to the families of military personnel. This research will also help with the understanding of any barriers that exist to participating in these groups. This is key to making the Military Wives Choirs as accessible as possible.”


As both an independent charity and subsidiary of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, the Military Wives Choirs works collaboratively with SSAFA, formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, in its mission to provide support to the Armed Forces and their families.

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