Music for health, healing and recovery

Sheila Smyth has always known the value of music for health, healing and recovery. Having worked in one of Northern Ireland’s largest rehabilitation centres, Sheila has seen first-hand the healing power of music and its ability to build trust, self-worth and purpose. But even she could not have foreseen the success of the Changemakers – Voices of Recovery choir and the journey that sparked the establishment of the Right Key Recovery Café. What started in 2013, as a singing for health project, has now evolved into the creation of a community of individuals of all ages and backgrounds sharing and supporting each other in their recovery from addiction, trauma and poor mental health.

A nurturing environment

The Old Schoolhouse in Loughbrickland offers a serene lakeside setting which lends itself to the nurturing environment The Right Key promotes. The Recovery Café provides a new social space for members with exhibition and performance areas to re-build and sustain connections within their community.  Crisis accommodation is also provided on-site.

Creating a platform of peer support to aid recovery

The Recovery Programme is a 12-week programme which is co-designed and delivered with honesty and compassion by those with lived experience of addiction and recovery. Critically, it is designed to support individuals at the point that they acknowledge the negative impact of addiction on their lives and enable them access support services quickly and optimise their opportunity for sustainable recovery.

A range of activities are available as part of the programme to re-ignite and embrace dormant talents including music, singing, art, woodworking, craft, creative writing and horticulture. Participating in a creative activity, sharing skills, purpose, achievement and social interaction creates a platform of peer support which adds value to the more traditional individual and group counselling also available. The programme combines activity workshops with community pharmacy sessions promoting healthier lifestyles, anxiety relief, the benefits of exercise and developing good sleeping patterns.

Building trust, self-worth and purpose.

Realising true potential

The ethos of the Recovery Programme is perhaps best illustrated by one member’s woodcraft project to restore the former glory of old mahogany panels. This process involved peeling back the layers of dirt, grime and old paint to reveal the natural beauty of the wood. In a similar way the Recovery Programme aims to pare back the layers of hurt and pain compounded over the years, liberating the person to realise their true potential and live a fulfilling life free of addiction.

Future ambitions

The majority of graduates of the programme continue to be actively involved in the Right Key community with opportunities to train as peer mentors, volunteering, participating in outreach work and public performances.

The enduring impact of the global pandemic on people’s mental health is not lost on Sheila. The Right Key has identified that a growing number of people are suffering from broken and fragmented lives arising from a variety of circumstances: addiction, stress, poor mental health, bereavement, loss, loneliness and isolation. It is accepted that pain and suffering experienced is similar irrespective of its varied origins and the new strategy currently being proposed by the organisation will embrace a wider definition of ‘brokenness’ and promote holistic approaches to healing and health.

Other partners who are making a difference

Identifying the right network of dedicated and ambitious partners has enabled us to deliver on our charitable purposes and activities. Here are just some of the life-changing projects that our grant partners have been involved in.

South Belfast Foodbank

Responsible for providing over 270,000 meals to people in crisis and for the distribution of over 200 tonnes of food.

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Mae Murray Foundation

The aim of this member led organisation is to create inclusive environments and opportunities that enable true participation for all in community-based leisure and social activities.

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Rural Support

Rural Support was established in response to the emotional trauma experienced by the farming and rural community in the aftermath of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the early 2000’s.

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