Charity Awards 2024

Raw Material Music and Media Education

Using creative activities to help young people and adults experiencing mental ill health

Raw Sounds is a creative wellbeing programme for young people and adults experiencing
mental ill health, providing opportunities to take part in creative activities involving sound, music, lyric writing and performance. This includes an outreach programme bringing Raw Sounds to hospital mental health wards across South London.

Nearly two-thirds of people admitted to Lambeth’s mental health wards are from African-Caribbean backgrounds, despite making up just one-fifth of its population. The Brixton-based charity provides activities for people at an early stage of mental ill health, while they are awaiting an NHS appointment or treatment, and also for those recovering from a more serious episode as they transition from in-patient care back into the community.

Members can learn various skills through the courses offered and each individual works towards their own target, up to the completion of a formal qualification. Some join the programming committee which decides on course topics for the term ahead; they are paid £20 and given pizza when they attend meetings.

Upon returning to Raw after the lockdowns, many members voiced their relief to come back, with many sharing that their interaction with the charity is their primary social engagement across a week.

Raw also identified a group of seven musicians who have been loyally attending the charity for over five years. It invited them to form their own band, empowering them to lead the sessions themselves, and mentoring them in how to direct their own creative development. Raw provides the band, Raw VIBRATION, with a weekly rehearsal space alongside performance and recording opportunities.

Throughout 2021-22, 438 members aged between 11 and 72 years engaged in one or more of over 300 creative wellbeing sessions. Forty achieved AQA qualifications and 70% of members self-reported an increase in their social confidence and a reduction in loneliness.

Judge Rachel Cockett described the application as “a strong story, really well told”.

Judge Cathy Phelan-Watkins said: “They are incredibly focused on the need they see in their community, and they plug the terrible gap in mental health provision in the NHS. They can step in while you’re waiting to receive your mental health intervention or they can step in after you’ve received that intervention, both of which can be very difficult periods for individuals.”

Judge Karin Woodley added: “They stand out in the charity sector for their level of diversity within their structure – they have a very diverse board of trustees and very diverse group of staff. Their service users see themselves reflected throughout the organisation. They are really loved locally.”

CC Reg no. 1020066

Arts, culture and heritage category sponsor: