Reaching Out: the impact of music-making on individual and community development in Plymouth

An evaluation of Plymouth Music Zone’s work by international firm BOP Consulting.

New research on Plymouth Music Zone shows music boosts relationships and social bonding leading to improved wellbeing and stronger communities.  It comes within days of a report published as part of Mental Health Awareness week by the Mental Health Foundation that said people’s wellbeing is being adversely affected by not investing more time in relationships.

The report by international firm, BOP Consulting, shows the work of Plymouth Music Zone has a significant impact on both individual and community development within the city. The music charity uses the power of music to tackle loneliness and isolation by reaching out to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the community. It includes working with people living with mental health issues, ill health or disability as well as those who may lack opportunities to make vital connections with others.

Among the findings, the evaluation report shows increases in people’s health and emotional wellbeing with 91% saying music activities made them feel more relaxed, less stressed and reporting a sense of feeling ‘alive’ with ‘moments of joy and respite’. 97% of participants said the activities helped them meet people with similar interests and around 83% said the sessions allowed them “to get out of the house more”.

The Devonport based charity commissioned the evaluators to look at the impact of two of its main programmes of work that have been operating since 2012 and are nearing completion. The music-making activities involved working with over 50 partner organisations to help reach out to over 1500 people across Plymouth.  The two programmes were funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Lloyds Bank Foundation and sought to use music as a tool to improve emotional wellbeing and reduce loneliness and isolation within those communities facing a whole range of complex and multiple challenges.

As well as showing strong improvements in people’s musical skills and how people felt about themselves and others, the results also found a wider ‘ripple effect’ on the community creating what researchers call ‘social capital’. The report shows the music activities led to the creation of “at least 10 new meaningful connections” for every person engaged amounting to what could be over 15,000 new social connections made across the city during the past 3 years as a result of the two programmes.

The authors of the report, “Reaching Out: The impact of music-making on individual and community development in Plymouth”, also highlight the importance of the high quality professional practice of the Music Leaders that has been shown as central to creating such positive results. The report goes on to recommend Plymouth Music Zone scales up its work in these areas and shares its inclusive approach both nationally and internationally to create wider and deeper impact.



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