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Spotlight on Heavy Sound

Every month, we shine a light on an organisation or project that the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) supports, and that works with one of their priority groups of young people.

These features give a space for organisation staff and participants to tell us their stories, and we are really looking forward to sharing these with you.

This month, we hear from Heavy Sound.


“This is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life”

The Crib

Images credited to Heavy Sound

COVID-19 has been a massive challenge for all of us but has been especially hard for care experienced young people.

Heavy Sound were asked in May if we could run face-to-face music sessions from our 40 foot single decker Community Reach & Inclusion Bus (The CRIB) with young people in care who were identified as ‘at risk' and in need of an intervention to engage them.

Of course we said yes and leapt into action. Adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, we’ve been working ever since in communities in East Lothian. The quote above is from one of 17 young people who have participated in projects on The CRIB since lockdown.

Founded 5 years ago by Jordan Butler as a direct result of his own lived experience, Heavy Sound works with disadvantaged young people across Edinburgh & Lothians.

We re-engage them through innovative projects involving music (hip hop, rapping, song writing, DJ’ing, electronic music production and sound recording) and creative arts activities, Muay Thai (Thai boxing teaching skills in sport, fitness, nutrition, keeping safe, conflict resolution) and mentoring (building positive relationships).

A young person uses mixing decksBeyond doubt our success is because of the relationships we build with participants. Our practitioners and lived experience mentors, whose own life experiences resonate with those of our young people, relate to participants and build relationships with them where others struggle.

We help participants to build resilience and overcome barriers making moving forward more achievable. We engage them in skills development courses through which we create person centred pathways back in to education or on into further education, training and employment.

The CRIB has been an incredible asset during COVID-19, allowing us to work with young people when no other spaces were available.

Converted into a music and outreach space by men and women in HMP Edinburgh, it has allowed us to take our services into the heart of communities. COVID-19 also saw the opening of our new premises in East Lothian, where we have 3 sizeable rooms which have been turned into a music studio, a gym and a vocational learning space.

We are hugely excited to be welcoming our first cohort of young people to this space next month. Heavy Sound has risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19, managing to find innovative ways of creating opportunity for those most in need of support and engagement during this time.

We are hugely grateful for the ongoing support of Creative Scotland and others, whose funding goes directly into improving the lives of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people.

This article was published on 06 Oct 2020