Supporting wellbeing with Music and Arts Award: Noise Solution
BY: Guest Writer
12 Mar 2018
Arts Award centre Noise Solution uses professional musicians and digital tools to support young people in challenging circumstances. Simon Glenister, Noise Solution’s Director, writes to tell us about their work and the role that Arts Award plays.
Working in a targeted way, Noise Solution has been fusing music production with the practice of digitally capturing and sharing participants’ musical journeys since 2009. As an integral part of our practice we capture video, audio, and text of the moments of success along with young people’s reflection of how that success feels. These stories are then shared digitally with those those that matter most, such as family and key professional workers.
These digital stories fulfil a number of important roles. They've been an absolutely fantastic way of evidencing Arts Award qualifications for young people feeling left behind in their education due to their circumstances and others who often struggle to get started back into education paths. The Arts Award framework allows us to co-create an achievable challenge for them, the achievement of which is reflected and evidenced in each digital story.
Just as importantly, these stories have become the key thing that impacts upon young people’s sense of identity. By taking those successful experiences and 'externalising' them for young people, we've created a way to help scaffold a process of reflection for not only them but their family and workers as well. The capture and sharing of an immutable record of what occurred in sessions starts to have a ripples effect on relationships, as workers and family can be 'in the room': witnessing participants’ success without having to actually be with them as they happen. People start to see that a young person previously defined by what was wrong can be successful and has potential. Family and workers have something positive to coalesce around.
We all know that the arts can be a powerful tool for working with young people in challenging circumstances, but as a sector we sometimes struggle in our ability to prove our impact. Noise Solution has undertaken steps to address this lack of evidence. Two years of research at Cambridge University has shown that Noise Solution's positive use of digital tools has been 'statistically significant’ in impacting upon the wellbeing of participants. To support these findings we've embedded the use of a nationally benchmarked NHS wellbeing scale which enables us to compare what we're doing with other organisations across the UK. We know that if we impact on wellbeing then we impact on health and educational outcomes. Noise Solution’s claims have also been backed up by a cabinet office funded independent audit.
Tying these outcomes to a qualification that is flexible enough to allow young people to work the way they want to really is the icing on the cake. Arts Award aligns perfectly with our approach of enabling participants to be in control of what we capture, and who they want to share those experiences with.
That's not to say there aren't challenges in this approach. We've spent a lot of time developing systems, policies and a culture of delivery that ensure we minimise any dangers for our participants. We've just launched a platform that delivers all of the above, and combines it with a reportable system which captures impact at a macro level of every participant in the programme. This allows us to jump in and see every individual story, viewing that wonderful qualitative evidence at a micro level.
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BY: Guest Writer