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The power of music: Spirit of 2012 Carers’ Music Fund

“I have finally found a place to be me.”

- Kiera, 16, Carers’ Music Fund participant

Rob Kenyon headshotRob Kenyon, Grant and Learning Manager, Spirit of 2012

We’re Spirit of 2012, and we’re the charity that aims to continue the legacy of the London 2012 Games for people and their communities. At the heart of what we do is a belief that bringing people together can increase people’s wellbeing and reduce loneliness.

In 2019, we launched the Carers’ Music Fund, funding 10 projects around the UK to deliver music sessions for female carers. It was made possible by funding we received from the Tampon Tax Fund, awarded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Though we’d never run a programme designed specifically for carers before, we had funded projects in which carers participated. When we first began to hear from carers about their experience, they told us that they often felt that they’d had to put parts of their life on hold to care for their loved one. The pressures of being a carer meant that they struggled to find the time and space to pursue their own interests. Some felt they were losing their own identity.

So the Carers’ Music Fund was designed to put female carers front and centre, giving them much-needed time out for themselves. Time to connect with others who share an experience of caring, re-connect with what makes them happy, or maybe discover a new hobby. All in a safe and welcoming environment with an experienced music practitioner.Spirit DCMS header

Sound Creators was a UK Youth project funded through the Carers’ Music Fund and delivered in youth clubs in six locations around England (and later online). Between September 2019 and December 2020, the project supported 144 young female carers to take a break and engage in 12 weeks of creative musical activity in safe spaces led by youth workers. With sessions ranging from rapping to DJing and from Tik Tok to ukuleles, youth workers and young carers had freedom to shape the programme and decide what to do.

The majority of the young women and girls who attended Sound Creators sessions had never engaged with carer support services, and many had been providing over 20 hours of care a week for more than three years. A lot of the participants had challenges alongside their caring responsibilities – in pre-project surveys over a third (35%) reported they came from a low-income family and 30% reported poor mental health.

Sound creators Clarion pic 2It wasn’t always easy for the young women and girls to take part. Pressures at home made attending sessions difficult, and after the pandemic forced UK Youth to move the sessions online, hectic homelives often got in the way. Knowing that carers often struggle to take a break, Spirit of 2012 provided flexible ‘access funds’ for projects to use in creative ways that allow carers to take part. UK Youth used part of this to provide personalised access grants for participants. For example, one of the girls involved was experiencing poor mental health and complex circumstances at home, and would often get overwhelmed and run away during the sessions. The access grant enabled the project to provide an expert support worker to help her complete the programme and really thrive. Another youth club set up a creche for young mothers, and put on activities for the carers’ loved ones so that carers could step away and take a break.

Sound Creators was a huge success. In post-project surveys, many participants reported that their wellbeing had improved, over two-thirds (65%) agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more able to manage their responsibilities as a parent/carer, and nearly three-quarters (74%) agreed or strongly agreed that they could look after themselves better as a result of taking part in the project. Making music with other young carers also helped reduce loneliness for some participants, and three-quarters (75%) agreed or strongly agreed that Sound Creators had help them make new friends. Sound Creators also helped increase participants’ confidence, self-esteem and sense of potential, with one participant saying “I learned to share and not be afraid of what people think. We could let out the things we normally don’t feel we can say.”

Kiera, 16, shares what Sound Creators meant to her.

“I had nothing to look forward to and my life was just about caring and school. I didn’t have any outlet to go and express myself, I had just kept to myself. The tiniest amount of time I ever got to myself, I couldn’t even have a way to show my creativity to anyone. I have finally found a place to be me.”

“When I hear from other girls with the same type of responsibilities as me I feel less alone. I have felt very alone in the past.”

Sound Creators is just one of the 10 projects funded through the Carers’ Music Fund, and we’ve learnt a lot about how arts projects can increase carers’ wellbeing and reduce their loneliness.


On Wednesday 23 June at 1pm, we’ll be sharing what we’ve learnt at our online Carer’s Music Fund Summit.

This event is open to all, but is particularly relevant to arts organisations, music practitioners, organisations who work with carers, researchers, funders, commissioners, and anyone with an interesting in understanding how creative participation can improve wellbeing.

To find out more and register, visit: eventbrite.co.uk/e/carers-music-fund-summit-tickets-152840543179

The event is free, but pre-registration is essential.

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