top of page


Creating unique songs together

Citizen Songwriters is a social enterprise based in the North East of England that realises the power of writing music to bring people together who wouldn't otherwise meet. Citizen Songwriters offers unique experiences for people to connect with the heart of songwriting and in doing so, connect deeper with their communities and the people they live with. 


Citizen Songwriters began in April 2018 as ‘Stories of Sanctuary’ a songwriting project that brought together people seeking sanctuary in County Durham, including Syrian refugees and other residents of the city of Durham. Stories of Sanctuary was found by singer-songwriter and community facilitator Sam Slatcher through an Arts Council ‘Grant for the Arts’ grant. The following year Stories of Sanctuary took participants on tour across the UK with the songs they’d written about their different journeys of sanctuary to the North East. They visited various festivals including the Migration Matters Festival in Sheffield and Journeys Festival International at Leicester Cathedral. 

In December 2018, Citizen Songwriters became a 'Community Interest Company' and since then, Citizen Songwriters has been bringing people across the North East of England together from different walks of life telling stories through creating meaningful songs. We have been offering unique experiences for people to connect creatively with themselves, with each other and with the communities where they live through music and storytelling. This includes both adult group learning and school workshops focusing on creative writing, songwriting, singing and playing musical instruments We currently employ two part-time music facilitators as well as other freelance musicians to work on specific projects. 

Songwriting experiences tailored to specific communities


No two Citizen Songwriters projects are the same. Some times we’ll be writing a unique song for a special occasion, for example celebrating a local community or heritage event. Other times we’ll be supporting a group to create their own songs on a theme. Groups can vary from a few individuals up to a class of 30. Typically we: 

· Seek funding, design and deliver original community songwriting projects

· Undertake commissioned work from local authorities, Arts Council Creative People & Places schemes, charities and arts organisations. 

· Deliver other activities and community music projects.

Most of our work supports communities who have not had opportunities to create music, or where songs will make a strong social and cultural impact, giving people ways of combating loneliness, isolation and connecting communities who wouldn’t otherwise meet.

Working with diverse groups across the North East

· Refugees and people who are seeking sanctuary.

· Isolated communities and areas with high deprivation and unemployment.

· People facing isolation and loneliness due to cognitive impairment or mental health challenges. 

The majority of our work to date is run by founding director and singer-songwriter Sam Slatcher and vocal coach and singer-songwriter Alexandra Summerson. We are also actively expanding our pool of songwriting facilitators across County Durham, to train and support musicians who have the necessary musical abilities but who may not have had the opportunities yet to apply their practice in the context of community songwriting. In doing so, we’ll be able to give more communities across the North East our unique experience of creative engagement and all the
benefits it brings for improving mental health, wellbeing and community harmony.

If you would like to commission Citizen Songwriters for a workshop or performance, please get in touch with the team here. We base our fees on the Artist's Union recommended pay rates. 

Press Release 5 Stories of Sanctuary _ simone rudolphi photography-5692.jpeg


“This is a brilliantly creative project, enabling  young people to develop their own skills and share their stories—stories that need to be listen to and taken seriously for they contribute to the building of safe spaces of sanctuary for all”

(Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal, founder of City of Sanctuary)


“On the tour, we were hosted by local residents. We were welcomed with warm hearts…. Music is the language of the world. When I was singing I felt every word I sang. I sang from my heart to all the hearts of the audience. I wanted to tell them that despite pain and sadness, we are brave because sometimes you just need to hope and have faith that things will work out”

(Sabah, Tour Coordinator)

“Citizen Songwriters was an excellent vehicle for bringing together a very diverse group of residents who were experiencing a variety of challenges.  Sam’s exceptional engagement skills created a space where all could contribute equally to create songs, which have been showcased at a number of subsequent events. Using art and culture in an innovative way resulted in people developing positive relationships, which have outlived the project”


(Shahda Khan, Stronger Communities Middlesbrough)


“These sessions help us keep very alive, lively. You know, you can’t stay in the house, there is no internet, no television, so programmes like this help to keep our minds busy. It’s good for our mental health"


(Mahmoud, asylum seeker in Hartlepool)

“The deftness of collaboration is the most striking element, bringing forth the voices of those who are often overlooked and unheard through music”



About: Who We Are
bottom of page