What’s Still Happening With You? Catherine Carter

Fairbeats like everyone has had to adapt to a completely new way of working during the Covid 19 crisis.

Today I’ve spent the day with our project coordinator Kaia putting together musical care packs for over 80 children we work with. We’re sending out musical activities alongside a creative challenge ‘What’s still happening with you?’ 

The ‘What’s still happening with you?’ task includes a disposable camera and a series of open-ended stimuli for children and families to have fun with in their homes and local neighbourhoods. We are posting and delivering them to over 50 families across South London over the next few weeks. We’re asking children to take photos of themselves and their neighbourhoods to give us a snap shot of what’s going on with them. They send them back to us (stamped addressed envelopes and all) so that we can develop and upload them to an online gallery that will become a stimulus for song writing and creative work across the summer and into the autumn at the centres we work with: Action for Refugees in Lewisham; Refugee Action Kingston; Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers and Love to Learn Wandsworth. Most of all we hope it is a way for them to continue to feel connected to us and to each other whilst it isn’t possible to meet up.

Of course we don’t know yet to what extent these creative and song writing sessions can happen online or in person, so we’re expecting to do a bit of both. We’re hoping there might be a chance for some very small-scale park meet ups towards the end of August but also planning for the possibility that much of this work can continue to be done online. Our centres are keen to get us back into the room with them in the autumn, and we are also keen to resume some limited face to face activity when this becomes possible.

It’s been our priority throughout to focus our energy on continuing to support the families we work with who are some of the hardest hit by Covid. For more info on this here’s a good place to start: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/our-blog/bleak-reality-facing-migrant-families . Through emergency fund applications we have been able to pivot our activity to online learning, buy lap tops for some of the children we work with and support our partner centres to continue the great work they do with destitution funds and food banks.  Kaia has been in regular touch with families checking in on their well-being and needs. 

We’ve also worked closely with our amazing team of leaders who are some of the huge numbers of freelance workers who have lost virtually all their income overnight. It’s been important to us to respond as far as we can in a way that supports them, enables them to invest the time they have in professional development and practice sharing and of course continue to offer musical leadership to the children with whom we work. This has been made possible through Youth Music’s Emergency Fund, we are so grateful for this support.

It was wonderful to celebrate the talent of the team and the work we do together on a Threads Radio show for Refugee Week. You can listen to it here: https://www.mixcloud.com/ThreadsRadio/refugee-week-fairbeats-music-charity-21-jun-20/

As I’m sure is the case for everyone at the moment, the future looks uncertain from where we are sitting, but thanks to the support of an amazing team of Volunteers, Supporters, Freelancers, Staff and Trustees I think we are in a good position to continue to offer real, meaningful opportunities to get involved in music for the children with whom we work.