All about our social impact work
Unite the Beat in times of Corona Virus
When we joined in for the weekly NHS clap, far from making us feel connected, we felt super alone, unable to hear anyone else due to the remoteness of our new home. When watching neighbours playing to each other from balconies, again our sense of isolation was compounded. Conversely, we have had the great privilege of traipsing the forest paths and have enjoyed the wondrous calls of abundant wildlife as we reeled and recovered from the pandemic unfolding in-front of us. This contrast fuelled our curiosity and has birthed this project.
The project involved creating a piece of music that documents the rural response to Corona Virus. We moved from Brighton to rural Herefordshire a couple of months before Lockdown began and we have been fascinated by how different it has felt to what we have seen playing out on our TV screens.
We are absolutely delighted to announce we were chosen by the Arts Council England as worthy of emergency support to see us through these challenging times. With other funds and commissions having dried up, they really were our only hope. We cannot thank them and the The National Lottery enough for stepping in to make sure our organisation survived.
Examples of previous work and projects
Whilst contact and promoting community has been key to our work so far, Corona Virus forced us to innovate and adjust our offer so that we could continue to provide meaningful solutions to those we seek to serve. Queue Virtual Music! This project has been an absolute and unexpected delight. It took the shape of a 6 week online music making course with young people who access support from Hope Support Services. This Herefordshire based organisation provides support to those aged 5-25 in the county when a loved one is seriously ill. Over the weeks we have foraged for sounds together, enjoyed a bespoke radio session to get to know each others' music tastes and played on Microsoft Teams meetings (pretending we are in lifts and falling out of screen!). We have supported young people to write raps, dabble in poetry, jam on guitars and have even had a grandparent join in. To say it has been a delight would been an understatement. In these hugely complex times it has been tremendously rewarding and humbling to spend time with these wonderful young people and their families. Hope Support Services have also been a complete delight, truly fantastic partners and a magical dream online team!
Virtual Music Making in times of Corona
''Absolutely the most positive surprise to come out of lockdown. Thanks for all the fun, laughs, care, and inspiration unite the beat. Great times!''
We are hugely grateful to The National Lottery Communities Fund for funding this work. We are also inspired by the leadership and flexibility they have shown in adapting to these complex times and allowing us to innovate in order to carry out needed work in our communities.
Spring into Sound Years 1 and 2: intergenerational music focused Forest School
The benefits of intergenerational projects have been well documented, with the first formalised intergenerational care project opening in 1976, Tokyo. Informal arrangements in which young children and older people benefit from each others wisdom and company are widespread in many cultures.
The idea to combine these groups and immerse them in the Unite The Beat experience has always been our intention and we are excited to have met such dedicated partners over the years who have been immersed in their respective communities.
Following its fantastic success we have now run Spring into Sound for 2 consecutive years. Each year we gathered together a new set of partners so that we could be the spark to ignite and establish another group that will outlive our involvement. As we are currently in transit we will not be running another this year but do hope to build it into our future plans.
Our findings far outstretched our primary goal, with the families participating also reporting a huge improvement in social contact. Those especially impacted did not have family living nearby or didn't have friends with children. Of our older participants, access to the outdoors and support in feeling safe were key. Men also said they were delighted to feel able to spend time with children without being seen as a risk. All in all it has been a seriously moving project in which we have made forest monsters, fire pit jam and flower potions among many outdoor delights. Each session starts and ends with singing and often by the end of the project, participants are happy to lead these wonderful communions.
As part of our role, each year we have created music and films which we invite you to enjoy. The films showcase our unique fusion of sound foraging and documentary filming to facilitate relationships and create meaningful films that capture memory. We hope you have enjoyed watching them. In the past 2 years we have enjoyed working with Lucy's Little Forest School and Together Co at Wilderness Woods, and previously Bee in the Woods Forest School and Time to Talk Befriending, in Brighton. Below are some gorgeous photos we just couldn't resist sharing.
We first set up the project in 2018 with the generous support of our community through a crowdfunding campaign and Upstream Ideas. In year 2 we were blessed to be recognised for support by The Peoples Postcode Lottery. The aim of both years was to reduce feelings of isolation amongst older people through intergenerational contact in nature.
''The boys really engaged well and loved the music and the way it was presented.''
''A reminder how important it is to get out and take our bodies into our wonderful world and experience it through our own senses.''
''The kids loved the hammocks and your understanding of the children's needs were carefully catered for.''
Woodland adventures: The National Trust
One of our key projects in 2018 & 2019 was working with the support of Sheffield Park and Garden to deliver a series of immersion in nature workshops. The pilot series was generously funded by a private donor. We ran 5 sessions in the Autumn both years in which we promoted playfulness, curiosity and connection. The work allowed us to engage a wide range of beneficiaries including young people with SEN and behavioural challenge, adults with mental health difficulties and we offered a unique sound foraging experience to Brighton University Digital Music Bachelors course.
Enjoy the video to get a sense of the work. All sounds used were foraged for and created by the children from Fletching Church of England Primary School.
If you think your school/institution/organisation/company could benefit from some time out in nature then get in touch.
We were over the moon in 2018 to be supported by Awards For All to run our musical memories project. It involved a year long project engaging two groups of vulnerable older people in monthly musical get-togethers. We sang, danced, listened and shared stories all whilst enjoying the life sustaining benefits of companionship and community. We had such a blast and still think of our older friends often. Tracks requested ranged from 'Albatross' by Fleetwood Mac, 'Brown Boots' by Stanley Holloway and 'Unchained Melody' by the Righteous Brothers, which had many fans. We were even lucky enough for one group member to share their own breath taking recording of the track. We heard of weddings, first jobs, favourite clubs, 'grandads' records - the whole range. What an amazing treat it was and our older participants reported gaining so much from spending the time together and sharing in music.
'Music makes the world go round'
'Something to look forward to'
Musical Memories: reminiscence for older people
Earlier in our first year we ventured over to the other side of the county to run workshop's for Looked After Children and their foster families. We ran two workshops from The Hub and really enjoyed creating the music videos for all participants. The project was a great success with carers unanimously agreeing that the sessions had much to offer both themselves, the children and the foster family as a whole. Comments ranged from stating that the sessions were 'therapeutic' ... and 'Made them relax when many have high alert and are stressed or anxious most of the time' to recognising the benefits of having a film to keep, memories to remember. Each Looked After Child got their personalised film delivered on these funky little memory sticks. The workshops were carried out with East Sussex Foster Care Association with generous funding from Chalk Cliff Trust.
Living Memories: building relationships in foster families
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