Switch ON was a partnership project between Opera North and St George’s Crypt working with adults in Leeds who experience homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Clients took part in an engaging weekly programme of singing, music and creativity, designed to encourage participants to experience music and opera as a way of building confidence and developing transferable life skills.
Switch ON’s aims and positive impacts include participants enjoying more independent living and maintaining tenancies, engaging further with agency services, forming positive relationships, enrolling in education or training, reducing substance abuse, and getting back in touch with estranged family.
The weekly creative sessions were supported by a self-reflection framework. Participants are supported to take full ownership of their learning and development, to identify goals, acknowledge their own achievements and successes, and identify how their skills are transferable to other aspects of their lives which can impact their rehabilitation.
Attending public performances offers a rich cultural experience as well as strengthening participants’ social integration. Members of the group have attended opera performances given by Opera North at Leeds Grand Theatre, in addition to hosting performances by professional musicians from Opera North at St George’s Crypt.
Since 2009, Opera North has also been working in partnership with Streetwise Opera to deliver a weekly music programme at the Booth Centre in Manchester. Streetwise Opera is a national organisation which aims to use music as a tool to support people who have experienced homelessness, and help them move forward in their lives.