A new project aiming to support Stratford’s homeless and vulnerable through music, has been awarded £14,150 by the Town Trust.
‘Street Music’ set up by Doug Armstrong, runs workshops which help participants create their own song lyrics and learn basic guitar skills, with the help of professional musicians Nigel Clark, Jack Blackman and Wes Finch.
Doug said: “The quality of work and teaching is outstandingly high. The musicians relate brilliantly with our customers and get the very best results. It is deeply moving to be part of the workshops. The project will go a long way towards improving participants’ wellbeing and sense of inclusion.”
Stratford District Council have also got on board with the idea, agreeing to fund the hire of space at the Stratford Playhouse, where the weekly workshops are held.
Despite only running for a few weeks, Street Music has already established a strong group, with participants using the workshop to deal with personal difficulties, life experiences, addiction or isolation.
Doug, who has run similar groups in the past, has previously held successful concerts at the United Reformed Church.
The project runs on Thursdays 2-3.30, is free of charge and newcomers are welcome.
‘Street Music’ is part of the newly formed ‘Street Arts Project ‘, a Community Group established by Doug, Jackie Lines and musician Chris Musson, following their theatre production ‘Streets Apart’.
New initiatives to help the homeless in Stratford, such as the establishment of the new Housing Plus Centre at the Fred Winter Building on Henley Street, are progressing, but there is still frustration from some about a lack of support currently being offered to the town’s vulnerable.
Stratford’s Link Project drop-in centre on Waterside closed in February following safety concerns, and homeless campaigners say not enough has been done since then to help people.
Emergency drop-in sessions have been held for the homeless at the United Reformed Church and other support services have been highlighted by the council, but no replacement for the closed Link centre has been provided, a matter which is causing concern, especially as the weather begins to get colder.
Homeless campaigner Jackie Lines said: “We are extremely grateful to Stratford Town Trust for this significant grant (to the Street Music project). We do, however, continue to be deeply concerned about the welfare of our street sleepers who, for months now, have had no facilities for washing, provisions, or hot cooked meals.”