Amy Bere tells how Opera North enables the homeless and vulnerable to discover a more independent and positive lifestyle.
Since April 2009 Opera North has been working in partnership with Streetwise Opera to deliver a weekly music programme at the Booth Centre in Manchester. The project aims to use music as a tool to support people who have experienced homelessness, helping them to move forwards in their lives.
The workshops have proven to be a constant, reliable activity which participants look forward to
Streetwise Opera works nationally to encourage people who are or have been homeless to experience music and opera as a way of building their confidence. The workshops have proven to be a constant, reliable activity which participants look forward to every week, and provide a safe environment where they can experiment and be creative at a time when the rest of their lives may be uncertain. As part of the partnership, participants from the Manchester centre work alongside two professional opera artists to explore our main stage programme and then have the chance to attend shows at the Lowry, one of our core touring venues.
We are now planning a project designed specifically for the homeless community in Leeds working in close partnership with St George’s Crypt, a charity in the city working with the homeless, the vulnerable and those suffering from addiction. The charity believes that by demonstrating the love of Christ in a caring, practical way lives can be transformed, regardless of people’s circumstances. The sessions will take place at St. George’s Crypt and will be supported by one of our producers along with an artistic team. This project will embed singing, music and creativity in St George’s Crypt, build on the charity’s social enterprise work and enable their clients to experience participatory and performance work at its centre as well as at the Leeds Grand Theatre and Howard Assembly Rooms. Each individual will receive support outside the session from the dedicated staff at St Georges Crypt to recognise and celebrate success and achievement, identifying how these successes, however small, can have an impact on their rehabilitation.
Positive impacts include participants enjoying more independent living, engaging further with agency services, forming positive relationships with individuals from other agencies within sessions, enrolling in education and training and getting back in touch with estranged family.
Amy Bere is Education Manager of Opera North.