Helping refugees to find a voice

Over 25 people in Bournemouth’s refugee community are taking part in Nordoff Robbins music therapy sessions, in a six month pilot project using music to break down barriers and helping them find their voice. The pilot is the result of a new partnership between Nordoff Robbins and ICN. 

Nordoff Robbins music therapist Anna Tyrrell works with families and individuals, including many of the young asylum seekers supported by ICN. Anna says: ‘It’s been a thrilling start, with new group members joining in almost every week. Young people who come from many different cultures have been able to find common ground through sharing their own songs, and improvising together. One young man was able to use his knowledge of the different cultures to write a song, so that each group member can hear us sing ‘thank you’ in their own language, at the end of the session. Sharing songs and dances from their own culture helps the young people affirm their identity – and witnessing these impromptu performances encourages others to know that their voice will be heard too. They are developing the art of listening to each other.’

Fraser Simpson, who oversees Nordoff Robbins South West services, says: ‘This is a highly innovative project for us and it is going to be very exciting to see how this develops. Our mission is to bring the life-changing power of music therapy to as many people as possible, including individuals, families and communities, and we rely on the strong partnerships that we make with organisations up and down the country to help this happen. We are thrilled to be working with ICN to offer support to people who are coping in such challenging circumstances.’

Jane Haddow, ICN key worker, adds that: ‘The unaccompanied asylum seeking children have embraced the sessions wholeheartedly and noisily! We’ve witnessed a real passion for the young people expressing themselves musically. Particularly so for a couple of the young men who are consistently showing a need for this expressive therapy.’

ICN (International Care Network) is based in the Bournemouth area and is a charity which provides a warm welcome for members of the refugee and migrant communities. They help them to overcome obstacles in settling here, and help through giving advice and support on immigration, employment and in finding accommodation. In addition, ICN offer English classes for those who are not able to access mainstream education.

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