Homeless get chance to build self-confidence through music therapy

Published: 30 March 2007 at 16:20

Research shows that music therapy can meet social and psychological needs.

The Cambridge Music Therapy Clinic at Anglia Ruskin University has been awarded funds to run a music therapy project for the homeless in Cambridge. In partnership with the Homeless Charity, Wintercomfort, they have developed a project which will benefit from the Kick-Start Fund, created by Cambridge City Council to help new projects with the homeless get off the ground.

The nine month project to be launched in May will work with single homeless and rough sleeping people who attend the Wintercomfort Day Centre in Cambridge. A qualified music therapist will provide weekly music group workshops to help build motivation and self-confidence amongst participants.

Helen Odell-Miller, Deputy Head of Music and Performing Arts, said:

“We are particularly pleased to win the bid because the project will be one of the first music therapy projects in the UK to specialise in working with homeless people. Research in Scandinavia and the USA shows that music therapy can effectively meet social and psychological needs. It can make links between meaningful activity, work and personal goals. It is an important opportunity for the university to work with Wintercomfort and to explore how future links can be explored on a City wide basis with homeless people in the community.”

Workshops will include active music-making using a variety of accessible instruments and approaches, which have been shown to be helpful in developing communication and social skills, and facilitate insight into personal difficulties. Participants will not need any prior experience in order to join in, a range of multi-ethnic instruments will be provided and they are welcome to bring their own too.

Music has meaning for most people, and can be a very successful way of engaging people in creative activities which can then benefit other areas of their lives. It can also be great fun, a stress-releasing and relaxing activity. Being able to create your own piece of music in a group can be a very rewarding experience and help boost self-esteem. The Music Therapist will also work with participants individually and encourage them to establish links with the local community and help with the skills needed to re-engage with education or employment.

The project will be managed by the Music Therapy Clinic at Anglia Ruskin University. Workshops will take place initially at Wintercomfort’s Centre at Overstream House, and will then move to the Music Therapy Clinic at the University’s Cambridge campus.

Helen Loth, Cambridge Music Therapy Clinic Co-ordinator, said:

“Since opening in Autumn 2005 we have seen increasing numbers of people using the clinic, from individual children with special needs to partnerships with local charitable and health organisations. Money raised by the Music Therapy Appeal has been vital in developing the work of the clinic which is of real benefit to the people of Cambridge. We are reliant on donations to continue with this work.”