Dartmouth caring group

T ’s Story  

T presented initially as a very serious young person, who much prefered to work on his own. He wanted to belong to the group and join in with the jokes of the others but appeared to find being in a group difficult. He also appeared to feel the need to learn completely independently, even if he didn’t have the tools for doing so. For example, he was set on learning to play the guitar and would spend a long time selecting the guitar and amp and going off into a room but would resist any help with tuning or basics of how to play. He also spent a lot of time putting away instruments the others had left out, so we surmised that he needed a sense of order in the room, which might be at odds with the more collaborative way that we work.

He struggled with the idea of going to the primary school initially, and stepped back from anything that would make him identifiable or visible. We found different ways of accommodating that and tried to give him appropriate 121 time with one of us, so that he had something to work on by himself. As this was specifically a group project, and one of the aims was to increase the group sense of belonging, we found maintaining this aim while meeting his needs and going at the pace he was able to participate in group work ( which he wasn’t wholly dismissive of, just took the solo option when possible) needed a lot of thought and reflection from us. For instance, when he had a job at the primary school, of helping the primary children to sing and learn the song, he was fully committed and enthusiastic even. More so that some of the others who had shown initial enthusiasm but then faced understandable performance nerves.

It took a little while for T to realise that while he thought he could play the guitar, it was more difficult than he thought and he did need help. We managed this carefully so he was able to get enough help to make progress without losing independence. He also saw an opportunity in the lunch time guitar group at school, which he began attending. By the end of the project, he was participating in group creations and beginning to put simple bass riffs to a beat played by the others. He was keen to keep making progress with his guitar learning, which allowed him to participate in the group in a different way.  

E ’s Story 

E was probably the quietest group member at the beginning of the project and didn’t volunteer much when others were very vocal. It became clear that she was very able to learn musical skills, picking up skills on piano, drums, and later saxophone and clarinet. She divulged some details as the project went on, that she was a young carer and had a lot of responsibilities at home and had previously had flute lessons, but had to give up due to financial limitations. She seemed excited to be playing instruments and began to show some acknowledgement that she had some abilities in music. When some of the other members of the group were starting the song “Don’t Leave”, E had been exploring other instruments, but on the next session, she arrived having written a new verse of the rap, and performed for the recording later that session.

After this success, she began to explore song writing more, coming up with ideas and lyrics for things she wanted to say. She progressed in her abilities and self belief, which appeared to be a problem for another group member “R” who was struggling with self belief and often tried to distract E away from what she was engaged with. This was a dynamic that we had identified and intervened with, as carefully as possible, but highlighted that while we were fostering group interactions and co working, there could be unhelpful dynamics that provided young people with more barriers. We felt that E and R would both benefit hugely from 121 work, which could then enable them to work together in a creative collaborative way, recognising their skills and differences. We also acknowledged that the depth of the issues for the young people meant that this work would need longer than 10 session project. 

Written by Moor To Seas directors and Soundwaves music leaders Rachel Thame & and Deborah Woollaston