An image of someone holding a shaker instrument
RPO Resound - Brent Mental Health Projects

In Autumn 2021, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s (RPO) community and education team began an eighteen-month pilot programme of creative music activity supporting Brent residents experiencing mental health challenges as part of the Baring Foundation’s Creatively Minded and Ethnically Diverse funding stream.

Developed with Brent Council and their adult and children’s social services, various project strands were designed to demonstrate how creative music-making alongside our professional musicians could support recovery for adults and adolescents in secure and community settings, bringing people together to create and perform high-quality music.

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Phase One

Phase one of the pilot programme took place between October 2021 and July 2022, with RPO Workshop Leaders and musicians delivering a range of successful projects:

  • Monthly drop-in sessions for adults referred by social services and related organisations, including Brent MIND, SMART Service for complex needs, WDP Drugs Recovery, Drug and Alcohol Services, and Rethink Mental Illness;
  • A two-month intensive project for adolescents at risk of exclusion due to mental health challenges;
  • Six workshops at Kingswood secure unit, working across three wards treating adults with challenging behaviour, and adults and adolescents with dual diagnoses of mental health and learning disabilities; and
  • Training sessions for mental health providers to learn more about the impact music-making can have on mental health recovery, and tools and activities we use in sessions.

Running alongside all project strands, three local musicians were recruited to take part in a paid training programme to develop skills in leading creative music in these settings. Recruits came from local partners including Brent Black Music Co-Op and mental health drop-in centre The Cove, and a wide range of musical backgrounds from reggae to gospel.

Sessions in all settings were very successful, with participants and staff reporting both short- and long-term benefits to participants’ mental health and self management, including improved confidence, reduced isolation, development of new relationships, improved mood and motivation, and an increased interest in music and creative pursuits.

“It gave my son something exciting to look forward to each week, it has ignited his passion in music and he has loved all the new people he has met.”
Parent of adolescent participant

“[I felt] a sense of belonging in a group of musicians.”
Adult participant

“It was just wonderful… you can’t imagine the difference I saw in our people as a result of the event. We have been working with them for ages to get such a high impact therapeutic response, and you folks come along and achieve this in one evening.”
Danny Maher, CEO Ashford Place

‘It was very rewarding to see the transition of the young people as their confidence grew over time through to the final performance.  We went from Workshop Leader and students to becoming a group of people making music.  Paul and Sig ensured that all participants' contributions were recognised, and valued’
Trainee Leader

‘Thank you so much for an eventful, enjoyable music evening. Really appreciate as it helped my depression as I find it hard to leave my home.’
Adult participant

In total, the first phase of the pilot programme:

  • reached 62 participants, including adolescents and adults;
  • delivered 39 music workshops;
  • involved 76 hours of project delivery from RPO professionals;
  • received support from 21 different RPO musicians; and
  • benefitted participants from a range of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and levels of musical experience.


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Phase Two

Phase two of the pilot programme in autumn 2022 includes evaluating past work and identifying areas for improvement and ongoing activity. Three monthly drop-in sessions for adults in the community are taking place October through December, bringing the therapeutic programme to Willesden Green (4th November) and Harlesden/Stonebridge (8th December). Sessions will re-visit Kingswood Secure Unit in early November to trial a more intensive model and how it can contribute to group cohesion for residents, in addition to providing personal recovery benefits. Conversations with children’s services are ongoing to identify opportunities for future projects for adolescents in need of non-clinical support. Further training sessions with trainee leaders will continue to support their development as music leaders and identify areas for further engagement with RPO activity in the borough and beyond.

Get in Touch

If you are a clinician or service provider who would like more information about RPO Resound’s mental health work or how to refer participants, and/or are interested in supporting our work, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you experience mental health challenges and wish to find out how to take part in projects, reach out to your social care provider or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be signposted for referral to future programmes of work.

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