The funding will enable rb&harts to expand Vocal Beats to The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in Sutton, and continue supporting young patients at our hospitals.

Youth Music has awarded rb&harts, £109,940 to give people aged 0-25 better access to creative music-making opportunities.

Working in a creative partnership for the first time, Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Marsden, supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, will use the Youth Music grant – using public funding from the National Lottery via Arts Council England - to expand the Vocal Beats programme to more patients.

Vocal Beats is a weekly music project that allows young patients to enhance their patient experience and wellbeing by developing musical skills. The sessions include learning to beatbox, playing the ukulele and singing, facilitated by singer-songwriters Heather McClelland and Stac Dowdeswell, and champion beatboxers Bellatrix and MC Zani.

The programme has been running at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals since 2015 and in the past year, has supported 330 young people up to 25 years old. Feedback from participants indicates an increase in happiness, wellbeing and moments for family bonding.

One participant, aged 14 said,

“Vocal Beats has boosted my confidence in singing and allowed me to come out of my shell a bit more during my stay. Reminded me of why I love music”.

Extending Vocal Beats to The Royal Marsden’s Oak Centre for Children and Young People in Sutton means even more young patients will have access to this innovative project. It will also allow for five musicians who are in the early stages of their career to gain experience working within the clinical setting with 1-2-1 mentoring.

The recent launch of the Vocal Beats Youth Ambassador programme gives young people the opportunity to co-produce music through an online network, alongside others who in a similar situation, such as living in hospitals with chronic and/or life-limiting conditions. With four ambassadors having already been appointed, this funding means that more can get involved.

Karen Taylor, patient experience project manager and arts lead at rb&hArts said,

“Since it started in 2015, the Vocal Beats programme at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust has demonstrated that taking part in high-quality creative music activities can improve feelings of wellbeing, develop new music skills, increase confidence and self- esteem whilst building supportive relationships for young people in hospital.  We are delighted to be working in partnership with colleagues at The Royal Marsden to extend the Vocal Beats Programme, to ensure that more young people in healthcare can benefit from access to high-quality music-making.”