Young customers impacted by the threat of homelessness in Kent are being supported by Riverside to develop their musical talents, boosting their confidence and employment options during lockdown.
Residents at The Quays in Sittingbourne, which offers supported accommodation to people with complex needs, have been learning new musical skills and are studying towards qualifications which will enable them to teach musical instruments to others, run projects and courses as well as assisting in running social enterprises.
Over the last couple of years, professional musician and social entrepreneur Steve Carley of Unity Roots Community Interest Company, which engages the community through the power of music, arts and culture, has led weekly musical workshops, rehearsals and studio sessions at The Quays, developing the space into a fully-fledged recording studio.
Customers have had the opportunity to have a go at singing, music technology, rapping, DJing, sound engineering and film-making, as well as creating podcasts and learning a wide range of musical instruments.
These sessions have helped them to build new friendships, confidence and self-esteem, assisting to tackle any potential feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as learning to play as part of a team in workshops and bands.
Jack Bonner, who has been developing his bass guitar and sound engineering skills, said: “The studio project has given me a chance to show my musical and creative side as well as improving my mental health and well-being by giving me something to look forward to every week.”
While Lisa Rogers is now the lead singer in a band, she added: “The musical sessions have improved my health and well-being so much as it helps to keep me organised. It’s something that happens weekly which I look forward to, as it means I can socialise with other people.”
And Reuben Caroll wants to become a music teacher. He said: “The project has helped with my emotional well-being, being able to express myself through musical ideas and improvisation, jamming with others, recording and listening. I hope in the future to become a teacher of instruments, a recording artist and work with disadvantaged people to achieve their musical dreams.”
The Quays is run by charitable housing association Riverside, and provides supported accommodation for people aged 18 plus who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Sharon Jordan, Riverside’s Service Manager at The Quays, said: “This fantastic project has made such a difference to our customers during lockdown helping them to develop new skills to enhance their employability and in-turn impart their knowledge to others.”
Steve Carley, Unity Roots CIC Director, added: “It is wonderful to see this project continue to develop and reach its goal of being a working recording studio and workshop space that makes a huge difference to many aspects of people’s lives with regards to their future ambitions, self-confidence, employability, happiness and self-worth. Everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their potential and we are losing a wealth of talent, skill and natural ability in our society if we do not run projects such as this.”