The Heart of the Matter: Mothers and their Babies in Secure Accommodation
Less than a year ago, as we have already discussed in our Heart of the Matter on starting a music project from scratch, we supported the extension of a pilot project, run by a local social worker, to improve the life chances of mothers and their babies in secure accommodation, through music-based sessions.
We are now running regular sessions with the same lead facilitator in two secure estates in Yorkshire, in partnership with the estate managers and two charities, Barnardos and Action for Children (who run the children’s centres within each unit). Mothers in these secure units, with children up to 18 months old, serve out their sentences with their children until they are released, or their children are sent into temporary care. Our facilitator (called A to protect her identity whilst she is delivering the project) is a trained Social Worker with many years of experience in family work, in addition to her musical skills.
We’re also pleased, as of November 2019, to announce further funding for the project from The Noel Buxton Trust, ensuring that we can continue this important work.
So what is the heart of the matter this month?
Yorkshire Youth and Music’s primary objective is to improve the life chances of children in a variety of challenging circumstances, using music and other art forms as a tool to support this. We believe that the children of women who are held in secure facilities should be offered specific provision that supports their development as babies and toddlers. Through access to musical sessions, we can encourage the mothers involved to better connect with their children and to better support their own child’s development, whilst being in a challenging environment for them.
We have already seen clear benefits from the work we’re doing and along with the evidence we’re collecting, A has passed on a few stories to share how much of an impact the project is already having on those involved:
Not only do the mothers tell us how much they enjoy the music (“It’s the best day of the week when the music ladies come”) but they take enormous pleasure from seeing their children’s delight: when they ‘dance’ and rock to the music, become entranced with a new instrument’s sound or one of the puppets, and how they respond to the group in the singing and dancing games.
Managers of both facilities also understand the benefits of this work, which include supporting the babies’ development (of course), but also increasing each mother’s motivations and confidence, whilst giving them a better chance to bond with their children during their stay. The mothers we encounter are often young themselves and a project like this gives these young mums something to look forward to each week, as well as giving them the chance to bond with their babies in a different, fun way, and potentially give them the opportunity to develop other life-enhancing skills. This leads to a better future for the children, through renewed determination from their mothers to a) not re-offend and b) to find the motivation to proactively make better choices and identify achievable goals for themselves and their families going forwards – all through the provision of musical activity.
After witnessing the results so far, we would love to see more of this provision, not only for those in secure settings, but for babies and toddlers across the UK.
YY&M creates music education projects for children and young people in a range of severely challenging circumstances. In order to provide meaningful musical experiences for these young people, we make decisions that get to the heart of both their needs and what makes a good musical project. We want to share the hows and whys with YOU, our readers, in a feature on our website (and our bulletin) called ‘Heart of the Matter‘. Each month over the course of 2019, we will reveal how our work gets to the real heart of what music education means to us.