When young people in secure inpatient hospital settings are admitted they might feel unprecedented isolation, fear, confusion and anxiety. With this in mind, these words are some that we may all have experienced over the last year whilst dealing with everyday life in the Covid 19 pandemic. If we consider that the young people we work with will have had to deal with their own mental health situations and the issues presented by Covid, we can appreciate that it has been a very unsettling time.
Despite staff working their hardest to ensure that the young people in their care were not adversely affected by the pandemic, there will have been factors outside of their control: staffing issues due to illness, reduced activities and interaction with new people, fewer visits (if any) and general anxiety for family and loved ones. Activities, ratio of staff on duty and interaction with others are very important for maintaining well-being and this is why it was essential for Quench to continue providing resources and online sessions for the young people throughout both lockdowns. By maintaining a routine, albeit at first by sending worksheets and videos and later with Zoom sessions, it allowed participants to continue learning new skills, developing ideas and creating music. It showed the participants on the project that although they may have felt their isolation keenly, they were still part of the wider community outside of hospital and had not been forgotten.
For Quench staff and artists too, keeping the project running during the pandemic kept team morale high. We felt connected to one another and that our work was worthwhile. We often see the impact that our work has on others and although we have been one step further removed from it over the last year, the impact has still remained clear.
If I were to speak about the benefits of connection through music, to those reading this blog, I imagine that I would be speaking to the converted. It has however, reaffirmed for me that at difficult times like these, music connects beyond age or background. It has the ability to give hope and meaning and to enable people to express themselves without sometimes saying a word. And when life is a struggle, music is there.