Performing Room is a not-for-profit , award winning community group-turned-charity with 17 years' worth of history delivering music based projects to young people
Up to 300 children, young people and adults with learning difficulties, a physical disability and with a history of mental illness, poor health outcomes, living in care and NEET benefit each week from taking part in project activities. They observe striking improvements in levels of self esteem, skill levels, relationships, education standards, work levels and reductions in stress with increased quality of life and improved feelings of being part of the local community. Word of mouth, referrals, group-led marketing, local networking and social media target local residents, social organisations and community members including a local voluntary team. Evaluation carried out by beneficiaries with 4 years funding from the People’s Health Trust with funds raised from the Active Communities Programme and the Health Lottery and the Health and Well being Target Fund supports progress towards a future where beneficiaries feel good about themselves, about each other and the area they live in to help safeguard against personal, social and economic stress.
The group routinely measures the social and learning impacts of all project activities and responses from those taking part and collects information each session to observe any changes in behaviour, attitude, relationships and environment. A list of focused questions used to measure each output is added to quantitative and qualitative indicator tools for beneficiaries to carry out self assessment and for facilitators and educators to closely monitor and track progress against each of the agreed project outcomes. Evidence supplied includes information captured using the following indicator tools: attendance sheets, 1-2-1 and group discussions, weekly meetings, questionnaires, self assessment, testimonies, picture/video diaries and walk and talk. Valuable knowledge added to the current mentoring and operational models during this time provides a framework for the group to effectively review it’s progress on a regular basis to see if any changes need to be made to improve the project’s effectiveness.
Children, young people and adults facing personal and social barriers including those with complex needs are negotiating transitions in an increasingly challenging, complex and unfamiliar world in face of greater levels of inequality, socio-economic uncertainty and risk. Bridging the gap between home and society is difficult for most and particularly challenging when cut adrift from essential support: practical, emotional, financial. Many separated from friends and family sit despondent and disillusioned. They worry they have insufficient skills and list inaccessibility issues and unavailability of regular support and suitable resources as common obstacles. The longer the period of isolation the more likely they are to suffer from low self esteem raising the risk of poor health, illness and psychological scarring. Now more than ever they need to foster a ‘can-do’ attitude and build from the diversity of their skills and experiences to maximize potential for new and exciting relationships to occur to collectively address the personal and social challenges they face. By supporting project work within local communities adults with learning disabilities can express themselves positively for the general public to better understand and appreciate the diversity of contributions they can bring to the local community and economy that work to everyone’s benefit.
First hand knowledge and experience gained from delivering community music projects over a 20 year period has provided Performing Room with detailed information of various barriers faced by adults with learning difficulties living in Northamptonshire. Evaluation carried out since Performing Room moved to the Boot & Shoe Quarter in 2009 reports over 95% feel less lonely and increasingly active as a direct result of taking part in the group’s music inclusion projects and believe their increased confidence and skills will help them enjoy the same chances in life. The Northamptonshire Hidden Needs Report commissioned by the Northamptonshire Community Foundation and the University of Northampton highlights key areas of inequality and ranks Northampton in the top 20% of most deprived areas in the UK for education, skills and training.