What’s on in 2022


Whether you’re an experienced songwriter or just getting started on your songwriting journey, join our free weekly sessions and hone your craft through a variety of games, exercises and activities.

When: Mondays 13.30-15.00   Where: The Pavilion, Hoglands Park   Cost: Free

Vocal Group

Looking to find your voice? Join our Vocal Group for some singing and lots of fun as we work through a variety of musical repertoire.

When: Fridays 13.30-15.00   Where: Flourish, The Marlands Centre   Cost: Free


To get involved in either of these programmes, please get in touch: mark@socomusicproject.org.uk

About Music For The Mind

Over the past 10 years, SoCo has developed a number of programmes that support adults facing challenges around their mental health, working in partnership with support providers such as Solent Mind, MCCH (now Choice Support) and Southern Health. At the heart of this creative intervention is a strong focus on collaboration and expression through participant-led activities that enable the development of vital support networks.

Activities ranging from songwriting, live performance and poetry to music production, photography and film-making have all supported improvements in participants’ mental health and general wellbeing. These have been delivered to adults in supported living accommodation, high-secure mental health units and in community support groups.

In addition to developing participants creative skills, these activities raise self-confidence and self-esteem and provide a create outlet for self-expression. They also support increased independence and decision making, enabling learners to be active participants in their own wellbeing.

SoCo’s Mental Health Peer Support Music Group

We have also supported the development of peer-support groups in the community, with SoCo’s Mental Health Peer Support Music Group having been a vital part of our Adult Learning Programme over the past decade. Formerly run by Southern Health, SoCo opened it’s doors to the group when Bedford House closed in 2010 and the group continued to meet weekly for the next 7 years.

The group promotes the development of peer support learning through musical performance, songwriting and recording that spans a range of musical genres and we have seen first hand the huge benefits consistent engagement in the arts brings to those with mental health issues. This group has enabled participants to develop friendships and social networks that have reached far beyond that of conventional support.

“If it hadn’t have been for SoCo, a very important therapeutic facility would have been lost in the city. This is a stable group and is the foundations of many other groups that have come out of it”

– participant of SoCo’s Mental Health Peer Support Music Group

Partner Testimonials

“For everyone, even if they don’t attend all the time, they’ve all had an increase in confidence. Two of our service users have even seen such a big growth in confidence that they’ve gone back to work. Music helps give them this confidence because it encourages them to step out of their comfort zone by maybe picking up an instrument, which still feels quite safe. These little steps are so important because they can lead onto bigger, wider life steps.

It’s a safe place. For mental health patients, they don’t have an opportunity to voice their needs or they don’t feel able to. So the fact that they have that opportunity in this environment is really important. The music environment is a non- threatening environment, which allows them to naturally reflect. It’s a more comfortable environment than when faced with a psychologist”Ruth Webster, Wellbeing Coordinator, Solent Mind

“The music group has been and continues to be a huge success at Kirtling House. The residents love being a part of it, it is a group that everyone looks forward to. The equipment and skill that SoCo bring is brilliant, it’s so professional and everyone loves it. For some people, the music group has been/is a big part of their recovery.” – Tamsyn Howells, Acting Senior Recovery Worker, Together UK – Kirtling House

“The sessions have been very successful and participants have found them motivating and inspiring. They have given access to a whole range of equipment that is not generally available which allows participation from those with a huge variety of interest and ability.

As therapists we have seen service users delight in being able to create their own pieces of music through exploring new areas of creativity. Others with musical interest or talent have been able to explore these further with support and access to a range of equipment and skills.  Service users themselves have said how much they have enjoyed it, “fab”, and people have asked to attend again. It is refreshing to have outside agencies coming into the unit as people seem to respond well to this.”Gay Daley, Occupational Therapy Team Manager, Antelope House

Music is great therapy. It’s helped me tremendously because it takes the stress away. It got me to go out with people and it got me socializing with other people, which has been really important. It’s helped me get back my social life. It’s definitely helped with my confidence. When I first started I didn’t have any confidence and wouldn’t interact with the group, but because Mark and Louis have such good personalities you can’t help getting drawn in. I went back to work last Tuesday too. It’s gradually getting me back to my normal speed

Solent Mind participant

It’s hard to quantify the effect of this group because if it improves participants’ mental health and wellbeing, it has a knock-on effect to friends, family etc. Since being part of this group I haven’t been hospitalised due to the improvement in confidence of this group and how it has carried on into all aspects of my life – it is a very important part of my week and life. It has given me a reason to be glad to be alive

SoCo's Mental Health Peer Support Music Group participant

Music is the only thing I’ve got that is keeping me well. Its pretty much my life now and it all started from SoCo. I have a new social life through music which keeps me busy and playing music has also improved my families’ social life too as I have people coming to the house to practice, whereas before we didn’t get out much. It’s a big element of what ever my future holds and is maintaining my recovery

Solent Mind participant

Seeing what I’m capable of doing and an increase in confidence led me to attend the sessions more regularly. They’re helping me get along and interact better with other people and it’s helped me to come out of my shell. I now get along with everyone in a different way and I’m joining in and being part of a team. I always want to come back because the whole session is enjoyable.

Together UK participant

SoCo’s courses allowed for more application of other skills such as assertiveness and confidence as they had more of a social element. It enabled me to apply these newly learnt/supported skills. Creativity allows for more freedom and can’t be compared to anything else. It was the next step for my progress.

Solent Mind Participant

Umbrella Arts Festival

On 10th June 2017, SoCo and partners delivered a 1-day arts and wellbeing event in Palmerston Park, Southampton: Umbrella Arts Festival. In partnership with local creative organisations ArtfulScribe, Solent Showcase Gallery and Dangerous Ideas Southampton, the event featured inspiring and informative performances and workshops in music, theatre, art, spoken word and more from local performers and workshop leaders.

Our aims were to:

1. Promote and raise awareness of the organisations and individuals who are supporting vulnerable groups through creative interventions locally. Enabling these partners to have an active role in the planning and delivery of the event.

2. Provide a platform for service users to perform/showcase their talent as part of the artistic programme whilst also providing service users with the opportunity to support the planning and delivery of the event through a number of voluntary roles. Through this, we would ensure that there was a high level of service user involvement/representation.

3. Create an all-inclusive, family friendly event for the local community that featured free workshops and performances in an accessible, central location.

4. Work in partnership with local creative organisations and support agencies to create an event that catered for/met the needs of the target groups.

5. Provide high quality arts engagement through utilising local creative talent.

The festival was a great success, bringing together 12 different creative organisations and wellbeing providers to deliver a total of 11 workshops and 21 performances throughout the day. With a total attendance of over 2000 people, the event was well attended and much larger than the 700 or so that had interacted with the event via social media prior to the day. This can largely be explained by the proximity to the town centre and city parks, which enabled us to capture a different audience and the good weather.

Overall, audience feedback was constructive and encouraging, suggesting we have succeeded in our aim to bring people of Southampton together for a day of entertainment, engagement and positivity. We have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the festival-goers and their willingness to participate in and enjoy the events of the day. Highlights for attendees included the diverse range of performances and workshops on offer, the atmosphere and feel of the event and  the collaborative nature of the event.

“Seeing the superb show about autism and learning about the flow observatorium was gamechanging for me, both in terms of how I view my neuroatypicality and how I view art as a way of communicating about it – a very valuable experience.”

– Carrie, performer

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