Soundworks in Blaenau Gwent

Wales’ leading music charity, Community Music Wales, has recently completed an eight-week project empowering young people with learning disabilities who live in Blaenau Gwent.

Working in partnership with Barnardo’s Community Connections Project which is funded by Big Lottery, Community Music Wales implemented their Soundworks project, a scheme designed to help young people with difficulties become more engaged, funded by the BBC Children in Need charity.

Beginning on 27th January, the project worked with seven young people who learned skills such as African Drumming and Animation under the guidance of three Community Music Wales tutors.  Despite contact time being limited to just two hours per week, the participants were able to write and perform their own song “No Matter What” and generate an accompanying animated video. The song was performed in front of an audience of over fifty parents and invited guests in the Ebbw Vale Institute at the end of March.

The 14-21 year olds did not know each other prior to the workshops, and all had difficulties with social situations due to their learning disabilities.  However by the end of the project all were socialising with each other and collaborating on the final piece of work, with the final performance lauded by parents and tutors alike.

Chris Dawson, Project Office at Community Music Wales, who was responsible for overseeing the programme in Blaenau Gwent said, “This has been one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on.  We achieved all of the goals set at the beginning and the reactions of the young people involved were most inspiring.  Indeed, the only downside to the whole scheme was that it had to come to an end!”

Joanne Harper, Team Manager at Barnardo’s Blaenau Gwent said ‘’It’s fantastic to witness young people grow in confidence and develop new skills. The young people are really proud of their achievements and so are we. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Community Music Wales.’’

Community Music Wales works across the country with a wide range of charitable organisations.  It has been bringing communities together and inspiring people of all ages through music workshops since its inception twenty two years ago and also offers team building days to private sector clients to promote creativity and collaboration.