Music therapy in the community

a young blonde boy peering round the side of bright blue upside down ukulele

Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, which raised an amazing £12,906.25. This will fund around 50 sessions of music therapy for children and young people with complex needs in the community.

In 2023, we were able to fund music therapy for 68 children and young people with a range of additional needs and life-limiting illnesses that affect their ability to communicate and interact with the world around them. For many families of children with complex needs, the cost-of-living crisis has had even more of an impact due to already higher than average bills and the additional costs of attending appointments and specialist equipment. The funding we offer is vital to ensure that children and young people who may not be able to access therapeutic musical activities through their school, or are not eligible for hospice care, can still be given the opportunity to communicate through music. Many of the children and young people we support are in times of transition, for example moving from a mainstream school placement to a specialist setting, or from their long-term school placement to a college setting. Here, the music therapy can help them manage their emotions as they move from the familiar to the unfamiliar, or provide a bridge in support until their new placement is agreed. Others may be too unwell to attend school. In this case, regular music therapy sessions in the home provide a welcome respite from the day-to-day care routines and bring much needed moments of connection and joy. For Ella, music therapy is used to help her manage the pain and discomfort of dressing changes, due to her chronic skin condition. Her music therapist shared that she ‘cherishes her music therapy time as a place where her thoughts and feelings are listened to carefully, her musical and verbal expressions are taken seriously and valued and she revels in my 1-1 attention. In her Music Therapy sessions, Ella often creates very gentle, reflective, beautiful music and closes her eyes as if meditating and luxuriating in the peacefulness of the musical moments.’

At Jessie’s Fund, we always aim to leave a legacy in the work we do, and we hope we have done so for the children and young people we have supported with individual funding. In some cases, the report at the end of the block of sessions has helped to provide evidence to get music therapy in the provision of a child’s education, health and care plan, and ensure they receive regular music therapy at school. Recordings and other memories have been made for children with life-limiting illness having sessions with their siblings and parents at home.

Luke had his sessions in his school setting, which allowed the staff who worked with him regularly to also develop their skills in using music to engage him in his learning: ‘As a continuation of Luke’s work with his music therapist, his 1-to-1 adult support gives him access to the school music room regularly to support his sensory diet. It was wonderful to see Luke engage with his classmates when he asked to perform a song to them. It is clear to see that this is just the beginning of a lifelong form of self-expression for him.’ However, the changes are not just limited to school: ‘Life for Luke, and for us as a family, is changing since we have discovered music therapy. He is beginning to fulfil sensory and cognitive needs that I feel will lead to a much happier future.’

Your generosity through the Big Give Christmas Challenge means we will be able to give similar transformative opportunities to many more children and families across the UK.