“Before, he was very shy to ask me questions, especially at home, but now he asks a lot of questions... he asks a lots of questions outside music, I notice that as well. When he’s playing, I play with him; I also learn. You [Fairbeats!] teach him music [and] he teaches me how to play, so we both play together and we bond.” Fairbeats Parent
Who we are
Fairbeats has been bringing together young refugees, asylum seekers, newly arrived migrants and their families across south London through free, long-term, ethical music-making projects for 10 years.
We believe that every child, even and especially the most marginalised, has the right to a creative life, and we put this into action by leading musical experimentation, risk-taking and creative fun within the security of an expertly facilitated, safe and supportive space.
What we do
We partner with Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL), Refugee Action Kingston (RAK), Love to Learn Homework Club (L2L) in Wandsworth and Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers (SDCAS), reaching around 170 children and their families each year through group creative music-making, instrument lessons, song-writing, band sessions and performances led by trained music leaders and tailored to meet the needs of the children we work with. Our bursary scheme supports participants to take one-to-one lessons.
We also lead free day trips and partner with local arts and music organisations to support participants to keep being creative as they get older. We publish research and provide training on how music-making and other artistic activities can promote more collaborative and supportive communities.
Who we work with
“If there wasn’t Fairbeats I’d feel angry and alone.” Fairbeats participant
Fairbeats participants are young refugees, asylum seekers or new migrants from countries including Syria, Nigeria, Algeria, China, Congo and Ghana. In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of Syrian children accessing our projects. The challenges facing Fairbeats children include unstable living conditions including homelessness, living in hostels or in extremely cramped and unsafe rented accommodation; parents suffering from mental ill health; taking on caring responsibilities; acting as translators for parents and a lack of any support network. Some children struggle to connect and engage with schooling, and often display anger and frustration in education contexts.
Many Fairbeats families have limited access to a computer or the internet, and as a result of their residential status and other factors, many are likely to be unable to access emergency Covid-19 related support from the government.
We work with children in Lewisham, Kingston, Southwark and Wandsworth; London boroughs with no other sustained music projects for primary aged refugees & new migrants.
We want to keep engaging the families and children we work with, exploring ways to deliver high quality music activities in a hybrid of live online and in-person teaching. Building on our 10 years of experience, marginalised children will access creative activities in spite of coronavirus through instrumental and songwriting sessions (in small groups at our centres and online). Beyond the musical confidence and technical skills this will build, taking part will increase the children’s wellbeing and support families to be less isolated and better connected in their community.
Why we do it
“I’ve noticed changes. Even in school, the teachers are always commenting on her bravery. I couldn’t believe it until I see her when she’s on her ukulele and guitar. I see a completely different person. The moment she’s playing her instrument, she’s beaming with light.” Fairbeats parent
Many Fairbeats parents have strongly requested music activity as they see it as an important way of supporting their children through the crisis and bringing joy and respite in dark times.
This funding will enable Fairbeats to adapt and continue our long term, sustainable projects that enable marginalised children to build relationships and skills and have a creative life in a safe and secure setting, in spite of Covid-19. Beyond the musical confidence and technical skills this will foster, we believe these activities will increase the children’s wellbeing and support their parents at a time of immense anxiety. We have experienced the profound outcomes of this long-term approach:
Joseph has been attending Fairbeats in Lewisham since he was 8. In year 5 Joseph’s mum told us “confidence began with ukulele”. Joseph is now a skilled guitar player and young leader having received a Fairbeats bursary for additional lessons at Midi Music Club in Deptford and winning a scholarship to Blackheath Conservatoire. Now 15, he plays in the school band and with gospel choir and recently toured to Belgium, his first trip abroad since coming to the UK. Last year Joseph suffered the tragedy of losing a close family friend to knife crime. He had previously told us “Lewisham can be dangerous. People get angry, especially in the night.” but that “I feel safe in Fairbeats”. He says:
“Music helps me… because of music I made new friends. It’s a good place to be. It’s a good place to learn.”
How we will do it
We will use your donations to deliver our work in a new way, adapting to Covid-19 restrictions. The money we raise will pay for ukulele and fife sessions for 60 children, in small groups or online, and for our trainee leader to to support the sessions.