NI Music Therapy trust provides little instruments with a big impact, funded by Awards for All

Children and adults with disabilities are among those benefiting from projects in the Lisburn area, thanks to a grants boost from Big Lottery Fund.

Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, which is based in Carryduff, has received a £10,000 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out of £743,207 to 95 groups across Northern Ireland. (See  full list of awards)

Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust Ltd, provides clinical music therapy throughout Northern Ireland to support a wide range of people, including children and adults with disabilities and people in palliative care. They received a grant of £10,000 to buy iPads to tailor the programmes to their specific needs.

The therapists have already begun introducing the iPads in their sessions with great results.

Jenny Kirkwood, lead therapist at NI Music Therapy Trust, said: “Many of our younger clients are far more familiar with the iPad than with traditional musical instruments so they can sometimes find it more accessible to use. They can use the iPads to easily access a vast range of sounds, including silly sounds that can bring humour into a session and help the client to relax, and engage.

“The iPads allow children with very limited movement to create music with just small movements of their hands. They may not able to hold or play a standard instrument so it is invaluable for them to be able to create music with the iPad apps.”

The Trust also has music therapy sessions for adults with dementia, in which memories of old songs are often triggered: “The iPads allow us to access these songs immediately, and to look up images of the bands and pictures of the era, and that can comfort clients,” Jenny said.

The Trust also use the iPads to work with bereaved families, helping them to write and record songs about their loved one, which helps as part of the grieving process.

“One client is an 18 year old girl who was overjoyed at receiving a CD of a song we wrote together,” said Jenny.  “At the next session, her mother said she had been listening to it all week. She was very proud of the song and it was a comfort and a way forward for her.”

The Awards for All funding also allowed the Trust to provide a range of new musical instruments including table tubes, egg shakers, kazoos and chimes.

“One client with a severe learning disability has only small finger movements and it has been difficult to find an ideal instrument for him,” said Jenny. “Thanks to the funding the therapist has a little set of chimes which he can easily play with his fingers. Now in sessions, he really pays attention to what is going on, and is beginning to make connections with the world around him. We will start using an iPad app with him in the near future to further this work.

Jenny added: “The use of instruments is at the foundation of our work. They can be a means of self-expression for our clients. It can be extremely frustrating when our work is impeded by a lack of appropriate and diverse tools, so we are very grateful for the grant funding that has allowed us to buy the iPads and the other instruments. These are little instruments with a big impact.”

Other Lisburn Area Grants

Aghalee Village Hall maintains and manages the hall, which is the local venue for a number of regular user groups. They are using the £5,011 grant to upgrade equipment and facilities for greater community use.

Ballinderry Primary School are using the £9,266 to buy 32 iPads and providing training to inform parents in the educational benefits of the device.

Home-Start Colin/Lisburn supports families with young children facing challenging situations, including bereavement, illness or disability, post-natal depression, relationship breakdown and domestic violence. They received a £10,000 grant to recruit and train more volunteers to increase the support available to families.

Kilwarlin Moravian Church near Hillsborough, provides pastoral care and outreach work to the wider community through activities and events. They are using the £10,000 grant to make improvements to their facilities and get advice on carrying out feasibility studies on its future development.

Sunshine Playgroup provides pre-school education to children in and around Ballinderry, Glenavy and Aghalee. They are using the £9,683 to develop a forest school for outdoor learning.


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