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‘The gift that keeps on giving’ – how young people help each other move up to secondary school

“It opens eyes for younger children and lets them know they’re not on their own. And once they’ve moved up [to secondary school], they can start to help others, too,” – Lizzie, part of the Make Some Noise ‘Songs of Belonging’ project 

Students from Co-op Academy Stoke are helping younger children beat loneliness on the move up to secondary school by writing songs about belonging and performing them for local primary schools.  

Songs are written in music classes run by local charity, Make Some Noise. Funding is provided by grants from our #iwill Fund. 

Students who take part get to know each other over a full school term, developing friendships, skills and confidence. And, by performing the songs they’ve created to Year-Six students due to join the Academy, they’re also building important peer networks and a sense of community between year groups. Watch the band in action below. 

Transition 

Periods of transition, like moving schools, are recognised as potential risk factors for loneliness. Make Some Noise saw this among the young people they worked with in Staffordshire, and thought up a creative way to overcome it. 

Programmes Assistant, Murray, said: “Moving up to secondary school is a challenging time for young people. They’re going from what they know to an unknown and everything seems to be changing at once.  

“The idea behind ‘Songs of Belonging’ was to explore young people’s experiences of transition. We encouraged participants to create a project that would raise awareness of youth loneliness, reduce stigma and get the message out that young people are not alone.” 

Social action 

Young people who take part in ‘Songs of Belonging’ write songs that explore their own feelings of loneliness. They then decide how they want to promote these to younger children. Over the past two years they’ve used live performances, and created music albums and festivals.  

Murray says: “Putting young people in charge of projects through youth social action is a great way of raising awareness because it’s the most genuine voice out there. The young people who have been involved in our project have more confidence, develop a greater sense of self-awareness and have a real sense of belonging.” 

Peer support 

Lizzie,12, has been involved in ‘Songs of Belonging’ since older students visited her primary school to perform. She now uses her own experience of feeling lonely to help others. 

She said: “I want to show my peers in Year Six that, although you can feel ‘lost’ when you move schools, we can be their family. Our music group has already met them at their primary school, so they know who we are and that they can talk to us. 

“It feels amazing to help people and to know that younger students will see they’re not on their own through our songs. And once they’ve moved up [to secondary school], they can join the group and start to help others, too. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”  

About the #iwill Fund 

The #iwill Fund is a £40 million joint investment from the National Lottery Community Fund, using National Lottery funding, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. We act as a match funder.  

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill Campaign that wants to make social action a part of life for as many 10 to 20-year-olds as possible. 

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