Group of young people stood next to a piano smiling. Some hold instruments, one in the middle is holding a white dog.

Youth Music Funding Success

Soundabout has been awarded £195,000 by Youth Music to support young musicians with learning disabilities who are passionate about helping others to make music. The 3-year project ‘Soundabout Grow’ will provide Emerging Leaders with training and work placements preparing them for careers in the Community Music and Music Education sectors. ‘Soundabout Grow’ will also expand the charity’s existing in-person and virtual music-making opportunities.

Only 5.1% of adults with a learning disability, known to their local authority, in England are in paid work. Young people with a learning disability face many barriers to employment, including a lack of understanding of their potential due to employer attitudes. Young people with a learning disability should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of employment, including improved wellbeing, an increased income, and greater confidence.

Soundabout currently runs a unique programme which supports Emerging Leaders to develop leadership and music facilitation skills. Graduates from this programme now work for Soundabout in a variety of capacities from producing resources to providing musical accompaniment for Soundabout Choirs.

Soundabout Graduate Leader, Anna Glass, who now works for Soundabout commented “It has helped me to gain more confidence in myself. It meant that I could learn how this charity works and how they use music in a different way for people who have disabilities like me. It was lots of fun helping to make signing videos. I was surprised to be asked to work for Soundabout and I have learnt some new skills within this job. It is hard to find work when you have a disability, it means a lot to me to be paid for my work. I love helping other people who have all kinds of disabilities.”

The success of Soundabout’s Emerging Leaders pilot programmes inspired an application to Youth Music to be able to offer further paid opportunities and share learning with the music sector. ‘Soundabout Grow’ will also offer training and support for music practitioners across the country working with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities utilising Soundabout’s near 30 years of experience.

“It’s crucial we enable more young people to make, learn and earn in music, whatever their background or goal,” says Matt Griffiths, Youth Music CEO. “That’s why we’re proud to invest in Soundabout, an organisation passionate about supporting young musicians with learning disabilities to develop and find their voice. A representative workforce is vital, which is why Soundabout Grow’s work supporting emerging leaders with learning disabilities is so important.”

Holly Radford-James, CEO of the charity Soundabout said “We are absolutely thrilled to be supported by Youth Music. This funding gives us an opportunity to support incredibly creative and talented young people, who happen to have a learning disability, into the workforce. We hope to challenge our peers to create a sector where it is commonplace for employers to offer equitable support to diverse future employees. The grant also provides us with the opportunity to explore new and innovative ways to make music inclusive.”

‘Soundabout Grow’ has been made possible by Youth Music, thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England. Group of young people stood next to a piano smiling. Some hold instruments, one in the middle is holding a white dog.