My journey with Quench began a few months into 2020 as a Young Music Leader on their Plugin project. I was working alongside and learning from two lead artists in two different hospital settings. Sadly, I never got the chance to visit either setting in person in that year due to the Covid restrictions at the time not allowing visitors, and so any sessions that were booked happened over Zoom.
Despite the challenges around working musically over Zoom and ever-changing situation with Covid, Lead Artist Katie Stevens and I had success with the participants at a forensic CAMHS unit where we work with young males who were mainly into rap/hip hop. We developed a great rapport with them and they were fairly consistent in their attendance.
As I hadn’t had the ‘true’ young music leader experience on the project, I was extremely grateful that I was able to continue to work on the project in the 3rd year. Thankfully, Covid restrictions loosened, allowing the doors of the CAMHS hospital to open to the Quench team. I also had the chance to continue to work at the forensic CAMHS site too but it took a lot longer for face-to-face sessions to be approved here so we began the project on Zoom at that setting.
A pivotal moment in my development came when Katie suggested that we could approach the FCAMHS sessions as Co-Lead Artists. This generous suggestion was approved by Quench and kindly offered to me as a developmental opportunity, one that I will always be extremely grateful to them both for. This new role developed a symbiotic working relationship between Katie and I, where aspects such as the share of facilitation felt equally balanced. In a greater way, I was able to introduce my own facilitation techniques and utilise my skillset with the participants, in the same manner that Katie was able to hers. We discovered too, that individually, we both had successes with some participants and not as much with others, and so found ourselves to some extent assigning responsibility for those young people in our approaches and paperwork. I strongly believe this benefitted the participants’ experiences of the project too. It also allowed me to facilitate solo on a couple of occasions at the start of August when we began face-to-face at last, which was a big change in responsibility for me.
Amongst other upward changes in my attributes, I have noticed that my session planning and preparation is a much higher standard than before, and my in-the-moment decision-making has become sharper. Katie, an experienced Lead Artist, was not only a colleague, but a mentor and example for me in developing myself in the role. At the end of the project, I found myself evaluating my roles with Quench in greater depth than the year prior, as I not only had more experience, but I felt as if I had more ownership of how the project had unfolded. The responsibility has been a vital step for my journey as a facilitator, and has further inspired me to continue in this line of work.