The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

Bethany, Edinburgh

Our support

We have provided support to Bethany Christian Trust in Edinburgh, to set up a homeless men's choir. This has been a pilot to test the potential for expanding the project elsewhere in Scotland.

Background to our partner (see also here)

Bethany’s mission is to relieve the suffering and meet the long term needs of homeless and vulnerable people. Bethany Christian Trust supports 5,000 homeless and vulnerable people every year in Scotland to find, equip and maintain a home within their local community. As well as meeting housing needs, they provide support to individuals and families to help them tackle long-term homelessness problems including addictions, debt, lack of furniture, unemployment and social isolation.

Photos courtesy of Bethany

Singing, particularly with others, has been proved to have a huge number of benefits for physical, emotional and psychological health and wellbeing. Bethany is keen to pilot the potential benefits of establishing a regular choir within the men’s group they run in Leith, Edinburgh. It is hoped that as a direct result of attending the choir the majority of the men participating will feel less isolated, more confident, happier and in better health.

Outcomes and lessons

By late spring 2015, the men had formed the 'Lost and Found Men's Choir', the name being an allusion to the words of famous Scots tune, 'Amazing Grace'. The men explained their thinking for the name, and their experience of taking part, as follows :

“We feel it suits who we are. As a diverse group of men, from different backgrounds, with different experience and facing different challenges we have all felt at some point lost in our lives. Despite our different backgrounds and difficulties we come together, once a week, with one voice, to make music together.

“Under the guidance of Jon Green, our professional choirmaster, we each choose songs we want to master and then work as a team to shape our own version of them. We’ve learnt so much since starting the choir, mostly things we never expected. At the beginning, most of us didn’t know what a three part harmony was let alone know how to sing one ! Using different techniques such as ; coming in on the ‘off beat’, three part harmony singing and introducing different rhythms we add dynamics to our favourite songs only constrained by our imagination. We’ve now built up a repertoire of songs we can sing with confidence ; even in front of an audience.

“We’ve really found our voice. Most importantly though we’ve learnt how to work together as one unit, knowing when to wait for our queue, when to sing quietly and when to gi’ it laldy ! It’s amazing the power we have when we sing with one voice. It surprised us all. Though we’re vulnerable as individuals, together we can make an incredible sound. We're sure there’s a life lesson somewhere in that”.

Photos courtesy of Bethany

Choir members have spoken about the impact of taking part on their individual lives :

  • “...the choir has given me the hunger to sing again. I feel more confident and you can hear how much progress we’re making already. It’s also great for companionship. When I meet the others out and about all we talk about is the choir”

  • “I love coming here. It helps with my recovery. I’m learning so much and it really helps with my memory, you know learning all the songs...sometimes I don’t even need to look at the words any longer”

So far, some 22 men have benefited from the work of the choir. As of mid June 2015, they have given five performances, with many more in the pipeline. In addition, the choir and Bethany have made some useful synergies and partnerships with other local organisations including the Scots Music Group, Soul Food, and Crisis Skylight (one of our other award partners). The outcome of the pilot has certainly proved the value of this new initiative, and the work of the choir will be continuing through 2015.

All involved with the choir project are to be congratulated for these excellent achievements.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.

A charity formerly registered in Scotland, no. SC039658

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