PLAY FOR PROGRESS established a weekly music programme in 2016, which is run in conjunction with the Refugee Council UK’s Children’s Section in Croydon for unaccompanied minor refugees and asylum seekers (teens under 18 who fled war and conflict) who have made it to the UK against all odds, and on their own.

As young people come into the UK, they must undergo the long and arduous process of gaining asylum through the Home Office.  While their applications are evaluated, many of these young people are placed in foster care or youth hostels in Croydon, and only some have been entered into formal education. Those who haven’t been given access to public schooling take basic classes at the Refugee Council itself.  Most of these teens endured harrowing experiences as they journeyed to get here, and upon arriving, discovered that the process of gaining asylum is itself is an arduous, lengthy, and traumatic one.

Play For Progress want to be there for these people, to offer ways for them to connect with the diverse and often overwhelming city that is London, to practice their language skills, to release tensions and healthily offer respite from trauma in a safe space, to forge supportive friendships and relationships, and to explore and develop their own creative potential. That is why they developed their music programme. Why music, you ask?

Making music unlocks the gates to self-appreciation, self-exploration and self-expression and enhances communal appreciation, expression and development. Play For Progress programmes are designed to encourage and enable these children to find enjoyment in music making, explore cultural traditions, collaborate with their peers and bring out their inner performer.

Research shows that learning music, even in programmes lasting only one month, improves reading skills, numeracy, vocabulary, abstract thinking skills, long-term and auditory memory, listening skills, and develops the part of the brain that is associated with sensory and motor function.

Beyond the scientific reasons for learning music, music education is beneficial in its own right: in the making of music! Music is a unique form of cultural and personal expression that exists in every culture. Music provides an outlet for creative thinking, a means for emotional processing and release, a method of encouraging self-discipline, and good old fashioned fun!

Play For Progress offer a range of courses and activities, such as private instrumental lessons, jam sessions, creative arts therapy, arty outings, and showcases and performances around the UK.

The best thing anyone can do is donate to Play For Progress, they are aiming for regular monthly donations, so they can continue to run monthly activities, but of course, anything helps.