Our impact in 2020
Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a year of creativity, connection and growth for Citizen Songwriters. We welcomed 3 new team members as well as reached over 100 participants online across the UK. Throughout our various songwriting workshops, song commissions and educational resources we have:
Improved participant's communication skills, confidence and self-worth
Encouraged people to explore their identity and creativity, unlocking future potential for self-development and employability skills.
Cultivating relationships between different people and ensuring strong cohesive networks across different backgrounds.
Here are some of our highlights:
Welcoming Alex, Shivani, Stacey and Emma
In March 2020, we welcomed singer-songwriter and performing arts graduate Alex Summerson along with social entrepreneur Stacey Deinali from ATOMS Education to our Team of Directors. Stacey has been hugely instrumental in supporting us with our policies and social enterprise development and Alex very quickly found the ropes as a music coordinator, co-running the workshops with Sam. Over the summer Shivani Daxini joined us as our social media and communications intern via the Durham University Social Enterprise Live Project scheme helping us grow our social media presence, particularly on Instagram. In September Emma joined us as social media support and graphic designer supporting us with some excellent videos capturing the energy of all the work we do.
Responding to the sudden reality we faced by the first lockdown in March 2020, we set up 'Citizens Online' - safe and creative online spaces for people to meet and create music together, from their own home using Zoom facilitated by some of the Citizen Songwriters team. The sessions began with participants from previous projects and gradually attracted new participants via our partner networks. The sessions typically brought together 5 - 10 people, covered learning about storytelling and songwriting with the opportunity to create a unique song together on a common theme chosen collectively by the group.
We were commissioned by City of Sanctuary (Refugee Week) and Scottish Interfaith Week to run 'Citizens Online' sessions on the theme of 'Imagine' and 'Songs of Love, Faith and Hope'
"In a time when we’ve been a lot more constrained, having to be at home a lot more, it’s been like being able to visit a different country, or do something completely different whilst still being at home and that has been really important to me"
Sound Out Songwriting programme with Jack Drum Arts
In June, our music facilitator Sam Slatcher ran an online 12 week songwriting programme with Jack Drum Arts for female carers. Each week, the project brought together eight women from across the North East enabling them to create original songs drawing on a range of experiences. The workshops taught different musical skills including arranging music, learning chords, writing lyrics, creating melodies and sharing participants' favourite songs. The programme offered a safe space for everyone to share their feelings and express themselves in a nurturing and supporting environment. The artwork below captures one poem written by Paula, one of the women in the workshop, as well as a 'word cloud' created by the different emotions the group were experiencing on that particular day.
"I’m just very grateful to Sam at Citizen Songwriters because I feel part of something really quite magical. These sessions have given us the tools to express stuff that otherwise, personally, I wouldn’t have managed to do"
"It’s been great listening to other people’s ideas and to be able to work together to then get ideas and go off and doing something on your own. It’s taken down the barriers in my mind"
Ukulele School Packs with ATOMS EDUCATION CIC
In the summer Citizen Songwriters partnered with ATOMS Education to deliver 20 ukuleles along with 'How to Learn the Ukulele' packs for children and their families in East Durham, especially those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and challenges of homeschooling. The resource packs taught children how to play chords on the Ukulele as well as to play their favourite songs. To help with the learning, we ran a webinar over Zoom to teach the children and their parents how to play their favourite songs on the Ukulele.
Sanctuary Songwriting (Create & Connect)
In August we partnered with City of Sanctuary to deliver 6 weekly workshops with people who are seeking sanctuary (refugees and asylum seekers) who are experience heightened isolation due to the pandemic. In these workshops, participants learnt new skills of playing an instrument and singing, as well as writing a collective song about their collective experience of seeking sanctuary in the UK. Through City of Sanctuary, we were also able to support participant's with data for accessing the online sessions which sustained friendships between participants in the group throughout the autumn.
Writing a song for Shildon - Shildon in Motion
In November, we were commissioned by Greenfield Arts (with funding from Northern Heartlands and Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership) to write a song for the launch of the Shildon in Motion project. The brief was to create a song that examined the innovative and extraordinary aspects of Shildon’s past and celebrates the ongoing creativity and ingenuity of Shildon’s people and its future. Bringing together participants from across the projects we ran this year, we had representative songwriters from Frosterley, Darlington and Middlesbrough who put their heads together and with the support of Sam and Alex created this beautiful track 'Shildon Town' which celebrates Shildon's story in the railway history of the North East and it's contribution to the world.
In 2021, Citizen Songwriters will be embarking on a new project called 'Life Along the Line' with The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway to write new songs with communities in Shildon to celebrate the world's first steam-hauled passenger railway. Watch this space for more...
Sam and Stacey graduate from the School of Social Entrepreneurs
Finally, this year saw directors Sam Slatcher and Stacey Deinali graduate from the School of Social Entrepreneurs in Yorkshire & North East. Each year The School of Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) supports 15 emerging social entrepreneurs in developing their skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. The year long programme equips people to start, scale and strengthen organisations that make a positive difference. Sam and Stacey will no doubt take all they've learnt at SSE to positively impact Citizen Songwriters.