Three diverse and exciting new projects have been selected as the winners of our Music Challenge Fund, awarded for initiatives that bring disabled and non-disabled people together as equals through music to forge new social connections and improve their wellbeing.

All three projects have demonstrated their commitment to providing music activities that improve mental health and wellbeing, challenge attitudes towards disabled people and impairment, and reduce loneliness.

“We’re very pleased to fund these three projects that will combine sociable and creative musical activity with helping people change their lives for the better,” said Debbie Lye, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012. “All three of our Music Challenge Fund winners will engage people whose physical and/or mental health can be isolating, making them feel cut off from others. All three of these projects provided evidence that their initiatives will make a huge difference to people’s happiness, and we look forward to them getting started.”

One project, run by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (CGWM), is based in North Wales and will deliver Canfod y Gân / Discover the Song – a pioneering project for people with learning disabilities to create music and socialise in a fun and supportive atmosphere.

The programme will offer regular music-making sessions in the coastal towns of Caernarfon, Pwllheli and Harlech in Gwynedd, as well as the chance for participants to perform live at venues in these communities and across Wales.

Canfod y Gân / Discover the Song aims to increase wellbeing and tackle loneliness – breaking down the barriers that mean people with learning disabilities are more likely to experience mental health problems and more likely to have low wellbeing.


“We are delighted to receive this investment and look forward to working with the Gwynedd County Learning Disability Team to develop the opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to come together to make music across the county,” said Meinir Llwyd Roberts, Director, CGWM.

“Based on our belief that every person has a ‘song to sing’ and that every person deserves the opportunity to discover and share their song, Canfod y Gân / Discover the Song will focus on improving the mental health and wellbeing of participants and create pathways for continued participation in music.”

The other two projects are located in Yorkshire and Humberside England. darts (Doncaster Community Arts) will deliver Creative Directions, using folk music to connect local people to one another and to a shared love of sound.

Creative Directions will place professional folk musicians in the heart of Askern and Edlington, offering weekly opportunities to experiment with vocal and instrumentation techniques to those with and without lived experience of mental ill health/social isolation. They will devise new songs and compositions that celebrate and journey through the past, present and future of Doncaster’s rural communities.

“Darts and Doncaster Public Health are proud to have been chosen for one of Spirit’s three national Music Challenge Fund grants,” said CEO Duncan Robertshaw. “The support from Spirit of 2012 gives a tremendous boost to our mission to transform access to arts and health activity, and reduce loneliness and isolation. We can’t wait to get started.”

Also in Yorkshire and Humberside is My Pockets CIC, who will deliver their song-writing project My Pockets Music to disadvantaged young people in Hull and East Riding to support them in creating, recording and playing songs about their own lives and experiences.

The project will take the form of weekly workshops across a range of groups and locations, targeting young people suffering from mental health problems. They will be taught how to play instruments, compose and record songs, make videos and take part in live events, where they will perform their songs for each other and their communities.

“Everyone at My Pockets is thrilled to be awarded the Music Challenge Fund,” said Peter Snelling, Director My Pockets CIC. “We have seen first-hand the remarkable impact that making music has on the wellbeing of young people. The support of Spirit means we can develop, extend and better understand this work – prepare your ears!”

Further Information

darts website

My Pockets Arts website

CGWM website