How music helps refugees, and you, to connect …
One of the workshops that we run and feel passionately about the benefits of is the music workshop.
Every Wednesday, between the hours of 9 and 1 o clock, the sound of drums, singing and laughter can be heard streaming from the Spiritan Centre, Salford, where Revive hold one of our drop in sessions for refugees and asylum seekers.
This couldn’t happen without the amazing work of Toni Beardsall. Toni works for a charity called Nordoff Robbins and facilitates the sessions.
Nordoff Robbins is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK, dedicated to changing the lives of vulnerable and isolated people. The organisation supports thousands of people through their own centres and by working in partnership with a wide range of organisations such as hospitals, schools and care homes.
People of all ages come to join in, let off steam, meet people and most importantly, have some fun.
These few hours a week provide precious rest bite from the struggles of day-to-day life that many refugees and asylum seekers in this country have to deal with.
Amin, from Iraq, told Revive that the reason he enjoys it so much is that “sometimes your mind is busy”. It is a good space to let off steam.
Settling into this country can be really, really tough. For some people, who are struggling every day to fit in, to make friends, to navigate the complex system; this may be just the way to clear their mind.
Amin said that he found that “music and dancing are good for relaxing”.
In the sessions you can plainly see how barriers are broken and inhibitions are lost.
Revive asked Toni what she thought that music represented for people in vulnerable positions.
“Ultimately it’s about bringing people together and music inherently does this”, she explained. Creating a feeling of community and building a sense of security is something that we see to be vitally important and music is a powerful tool in doing do, as it transcends all language barriers.
Through music, people are able to connect.
Ibrahim, from Eritrea, has been coming to the sessions for the past three weeks. Although his level of English is still fairly low, he is an incredibly enthusiastic participant and told me that he most enjoys the communal, group atmosphere.
“Music gives people a sense of identity”, she says, it “gives back control” to people who may feel that they have lost control of their lives on other levels.
“It is also a powerful reinforcement of culture”, Toni added. Music is an enormous part of someone’s culture and therefore identity. A losing of sense of identity can have detrimental effects for someone’s self-confidence, which can affect people on a number of levels. Through music, people are able to express themselves in a natural way and can gain confidence in doing so.
Through workshops like these, it is plain to see people growing in confidence and gradually letting go of some of those tensions that they are carrying.
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