Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


This project is all about giving young people (aged 11 - 18) living in challenging circumstances in Shropshire opportunities to experience song-writing and music-making as a catalyst for self-expression. We want to encourage them to share their thoughts with peers on the benefits to health & wellbeing.

The project will work directly with 36 young people including young carers and Looked After Children and will engage 50 more as an audience for recordings and performance.

Fly Away will include:
• 3 vibrant and exciting music workshops, each led by multi-instrumental community musicians. Each workshop will involve approximately a dozen young people in composing their own original song/s based on their life experiences. Each of these workshops will involve facilitated conversations to help the young people to articulate what benefits sessions like these could offer to other young people like them.
• 3 Masterclasses to support young people to record the songs that they write. These recordings will then be shared with the young people themselves, the organisations they are connected with and their peer groups.
• A performance where the young people will be supported to play their songs ‘live’ to an audience with an interest in health & wellbeing for International Mental Health Day October in October 2018.

Fly Away is primarily motivated by our own work. In Summer 2017, we ran a one-day workshop with young carers when we asked them what this type of experience meant to them. They wowed us by responding with things like:

‘It’s really good for people who are shy and have their feelings tucked away inside of them – the way it is run brings them out of themselves’

‘Makes you feel good about yourself – makes you feel more confident’

‘Makes you be more open minded about other people’; ‘you have to listen, really listen to what others are saying and we develop ideas together’

‘It makes you feel that you’re not alone’; ‘you get to know other people – you’re not the only one and there are other people like you’

On that occasion, the young people wrote an original song called ‘Fly Away’ which told how they felt about bullying and how they can look after each other to counteract the effects, with a chorus which includes the lyrics: I have wings, I can fly away from it all.

The musicians too felt inspired by what the young people had to say:

"Before lunch I was lucky enough to be in the room when the young people were asked to give some feedback about their experiences. I can honestly say it left me feeling so emotional, seeing the impact that these workshops have on the young people, and what they take away from them. Hearing how days like this helps them escape from what they're dealing with at home makes the work we do feel so worthwhile".

"It transpires many of the young people had been victim of quite severe bullying in their schools. Some were telling me it was so bad they had to move schools. The lyrics the young people wrote were mainly about providing support to the listener and how to be themselves and everything will be ok. Which I found very moving to be a part of".

The Fly Away project will keep the musician/young people ratios high – with 5 or 6 musicians working with about 12 young people at a time to ensure that the young people get the support they need to play instruments, write lyrics, record and perform with confidence. In our experience this is huge part of the quality of the experience. Our musicians all work as freelance professionals and are able to support young people to play or accompany guitar, drums, keyboards and more tech based instruments such as Makey Makey, Leap Motion Air Harp, alongside DJ-ing and variable vocals. This is a unique and valuable experience for young people who live their lives in challenging circumstances.

Project Video

The Hive (HMM Arts Ltd)

Moment of Pride

The young people are so enthusiastic about music-making and incredibly generous to their peers, really trying hard to express the long-term benefits that others could experience. The skill and dedication of the musicians encourages young people to express quite difficult emotions in creative ways.

Location: Shrewsbury