We are very excited to announce the start of our new programme, Crisis Choirs, which will reach isolated asylum seekers living in East Manchester.

We have started delivering our new programme in partnership with refugee support service, Rainbow Haven over the next twelve months. We have also been able to recruit and deliver training to 10 fabulous new volunteers.

Evanthia attended our bespoke training day and joined the Crisis Choirs team in October 2017. She writes about her experience of Crisis Choirs so far.

I was not aware of Music Action International before the day a friend posted the recruitment opportunity with the Crisis Choirs programme on Facebook. I had experience as a community music facilitator but had not worked with refugees and asylum seekers before. The programme looked like a challenging project for me to contribute to, and I was interested in Music Action International’s unique approach of enabling refugees to overcome isolation and trauma through music.

I arrived at the volunteer training without really knowing what to expect! I was instantly captivated by the unpretentious cosiness of the spacey room with chairs laid out in a circle to facilitate a truly engaging session. The training was very well-structured with diverse tasks including an informative quiz relating to refugee and asylum seekers, being instructed to develop our own inclusive music session in a small team built on percussion and vocals, and useful instructions for the first Crisis Choirs session. We were also taught two songs which would feature in the Crisis Choirs repertoire.

The training facilitators, Lis and Emmanuela, did a great job in keeping us relaxed and engaged throughout the training. I also found the fact that an artist of refugee background was part of the training facilitator team highly effective in providing insightful and sensitive approaches to working with vulnerable adults.

We are now three weeks into Crisis Choirs and I feel I have already learnt so much from this multicultural group of participants, facilitators and volunteer. By the third session I could feel a cultural mosaic emerging from over twenty attendees originating from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Albania, Greece, the UK and more. The songs we have been practising speak of peace, love, freedom and joy, and original song lyrics translated into Arabic, French, Kurdish, Albanian, Swahili, and English, which allows for such an expressive representation of participants’ distinct homelands and identities within the group.

Participants are invited to bring in songs of their choice, commonly from their home countries, and encouraged to teach the pronunciation of song lyrics to the group which makes the sessions so inclusive and engaging. In our last meeting a couple of participants instructed the Arabic lyrics of a song that spoke of the beauty of Syria. I am confident that this programme will continue to serve as a platform for individuals to express and enjoy themselves but also learn and belong together through music over the coming months.

Crisis Choirs is possible thanks to funding from Emmanuel Kaye Foundation, Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust and the Granada Foundation.

To find out more about the impact of Crisis Choirs, click here

“When you work together with love
you can achieve anything.”

Amir, Survivor

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