Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Ellie Vesey-Thompson, visited the YMCA Beatz Music Project recently to find out in person what the sessions offer to 11 to 18 year olds in the local area.
A small group of young people provided an energy-packed display of talent, with examples of how to lay down vocal tracks, alongside spontaneous drum, piano and guitar improvisations.
The Beatz group sessions are led by a YMCA youth worker and local music producer and give access to the music studio which is based in the YMCA Horley Young People and Family Centre, with the opportunity to play a selection of instruments and use music production technology.
Stuart Kingsley is YMCA East Surrey’s Deputy Head of Children and Young People.
“Beatz gives young people an opportunity to stay off the streets, develop their talents and self-esteem, learn new skills and meet new friends,” he says. “It’s a safe space where they can come and create – all for free!”
A grant through the High Sheriff Youth Awards Scheme of £5,000 has funded one of two music sessions per week to support young people at risk of exploitation.
Following her visit, Ellie Vesey-Thompson said:
“Beatz is a brilliant project and it was wonderful to join an evening session. I was amazed at the talent and passion of the young people involved and certainly think there’s some stars in the making!
“One of the key areas of focus for me as Deputy Commissioner is young people and our office is a big supporter of the YMCA, helping to fund some of the fantastic projects in East Surrey.
“I was delighted to drop in and catch up with the team again and see the positive influence Beatz is having on the lives of those taking part.”
Rhys is 17 and was the first young person to attend the music sessions after hearing about them through the YMCA’s WAVES youth group, which provides a safe space for young people who are experiencing emotional health difficulties.
“At that time, I was not in a good place. I was very down and had some bad thoughts going on in my head. I had no friends to hang out with or talk to and some big trust issues. Beatz is a great way to meet nice people and music lovers who are going through the same things as you.”
Rhys has grown in confidence and now has plans to work towards a job where he can support others along the way.
“Without YMCA East Surrey, I’d probably still be in a bad place,” he says. “I’d be an empty shell of a person. I don’t know quite where I’m going, but I know that I have friends at the Horley Young People and Family Centre who will show me the right path.”
Andrew Scullin, a local music producer who supports the Beatz project, says:
“The Beatz sessions give young people the space to be who they are.”
“We have plans to expand the Beatz Music Project to other local areas, once the necessary funding and venues are in place,” says Stuart Kingsley. “The prospect of being able to offer more sessions to young people, helping them to grow musically, personally and socially, is an exciting one.”