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Songs to End Homelessness: How music can help transform lives


On 16 June, Ensemble will bring Songs to End Homelessness to Saint Luke's in Glasgow. This event is a night of music and songs written by young people, many of whom have experienced homelessness, asylum or mental health issues.

Ensemble is funded by the Youth Music Initiative at Creative Scotland and Loretto Care - a leading provider of care and support services for a wide range of people in Scotland - where professional musicians and musical volunteers work with groups of young people to write songs over a series of songwriting workshops.

Creativity connects you yourself and other people. It can give people a sense of purpose, achievement and an outlet- Michael Timmons, Loretto Care

"The concert and project theme Songs To End Homelessness naturally came about as many of the songs touch on overcoming challenges, homelessness, hope and being connected," explains Loretto Care's Michael Timmons.

"Those who were going through homelessness when attending the workshops and working with different people and musicians felt it helped build their confidence, social skills, and improve self-esteem."

Michael explains that engaging in music activities has helped to open doors for some participants.

"This confidence in particular is so important for people getting out of homelessness and making a new start," he says. "People have commented after taking part in Ensemble, the confidence they have got from coming here makes them feel they can do anything."


An impressive roster of musical talent is involved in the event this month, including Martha FfionJill Lorean, Fiskur, Jamie Scott, Jonnie Common, Donna Maciocia, Rollo Strickland, Goodnight Louisa, Clare McBrien, Albi, Raukarna, Diana Gabrielle, Nicola Denman, Michael Timmons.

"Ensemble always seeks the best musical talent from Scotland to engage in project," Michael says.

"All of the artists performing at the concert have been involved in the songwriting workshops, collaborating with the young people to write songs.

"The musicians involved, including the musical volunteers and trainees, are very skilled musically - but also very skilled in terms of their ability to engage with people in a meaningful way."

Several of the artists that are performing on the night have been involved in the songwriting process.

"Many of them feel they have the confidence now to be on the stage and sing their own words alongside the musicians," Michael says. "There is also one person who has discovered he is an omnicord prodigy. Expect lots of omnicord solos."

In this project, confidence is key. "This is giving people who sometimes feel they don’t have a voice the opportunity to share their story, their thoughts and ideas through songs," Michael says.

"It’s also a way of engaging with people who may not have engaged in other services and support that may benefit them.


"So by offering a unique songwriting experience, engaging with people through music, it pushes open other doors and we see people going on to accept the support they need, to improve their lives."

By tapping into music as a way of social expression, this project demonstrates the value of creativity.

"Creativity connects you yourself and other people," Michael says. "It can give people a sense of purpose, achievement and an outlet.

"Often when people are experiencing challenges such as homelessness, creative activities can fall to the bottom of the pile. But by bringing this to the top, it can give people a lifeline, a reason to want to overcome whatever challenges they are facing."

In fact, Michael has shared some comments from those involved in the project: "I feel like I belong"; "I feel like I can breathe again"; "I feel like I have a voice and people understand me better", and 'It's given me so much confidence I feel I can do anything now."

Ultimately, Michael says he hopes the audience leave with the message "that music can help transform lives".

"We want the audience to listen to the songs, listen to the lyrics and hear what people involved have to say.

"We want audience members to recognise and celebrate the huge achievement and courage of those involved."

Songs to End Homelessness; Saint Luke's & The Winged Ox; 16 Jun. Find tickets at billetto.co.uk.

This article was published on 05 Jun 2019