We met Will at an acoustic cafe evening at the Change Academy, Newton Abbot, run by Young Devon. Young Devon is a progressive charity that exists to ‘change the odds in favour of young people’.
It was part of the Infusion music project, part of Daisi’s Soundwaves programme, which aims to support new partnerships in delivering music projects relevant to specific needs of children in challenging circumstances. The project was led by musician Laura Forster. Music is a new avenue for Young Devon, in its aim to promote opportunity for those least likely to have their voices heard, and Will became very involved.
“It’s a getaway…my life outside of the project’s very boring...and it’s meeting new friends – everyone here’s just great.”
When he joined the project, Will was looking for something to do socially that connected his skills with building new friendships. He was interested in music and soon wanted to learn more instruments, develop various skills and meet other young musicians. He began to build his confidence, develop his musical skills and feel more confident sharing his music and performing.
“I did my first live performance in front of people here, on my guitar, in this room that we’re in right now. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
One part of the project Will found easy to engage with was the jam sessions. They were set up to be relaxed sessions where young people can have a chance to be themselves musically, whether or not they’ve picked up an instrument before. Initially, he struggled with the performance aspect, but pushed through to come to a point of enjoying performing his own songs and covers.
“I thought I’d completely crack under the pressure and not be able to do anything cos I thought after I screwed up once I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue and I might just walk off. I was like ‘can I do it again?’ and Laura was like ‘yeah do it again’ so I had another go and yeah I was quite happy with myself being able to do that”.
Talking to others at the acoustic gig, the biggest change they have seen in Will is that his confidence has grown immensely. This has led him to encourage more young people and join in with workshops and planning meetings. He came to junk band percussion workshops, singing and songwriting workshops and a wide range of activities. This led him to co-lead sessions and build his leadership skills.
“Will’s had a really strong input in that he’s been coming to all of our event planning sessions, has really had his say about what happens, has been helping with things like promoting the gig, working on the poster that’s going out to loads of different people.”
“I think it makes me slightly more fulfilled coming here, it makes me happier, cos I get the opportunity to come here and play with people, and I guess that sort of leaves with me.”
As this Infusion project comes to an end, new funding means that Will can be part of helping those not in education or training (NEET) to explore music activities. He is looking forward to continuing building relationships and skills with Young Devon, expressing himself and serving his community.
“I would like to do more like this….Going on from this, we’re helping with people who are not in education with music stuff, so that should be a good step forward I think.”