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4th Jul, 2022

Music project gives hope to vulnerable community

SONGWRITING is helping homeless and vulnerable people in Stratford to cope with daily life.

The Link Project – the Stratford District Council-run drop in centre for the homeless – is running weekly music sessions organised by songwriter Doug Armstrong.

The sessions are attended by the likes of rough sleepers, others without a permanent home, and residents who feel socially-isolated.

And now after support from Doug and fellow musicians Jack Blackman, Nigel Clark and Wes Finch, the group has written a CD compilation of songs called ‘Hope’.

Doug, a retiree from Stratford, told the Observer the group discussed their feelings, hopes and ideas to create lyrics. Themes for the songs range from despair and loss, to family and friendship.

The group, impacted by the recent loss of a friend and Link regular Lee, wrote a song in his memory entitled ‘We’re all Gonna get There in the End’.

Doug said: “To me music is just a by-product. The words are all their own.

“It really helps their self-esteem because at the end of the session, they have achieved something.

“The sessions really improve their confidence. There are other people there who they can share their ideas and beliefs with and it’s always relaxed.

“They are all vulnerable people, some suffer with mental health problems.

“We all have problems, but something small to us can be massive for them. Even things as simple as going to an appointment. They’re just not used to coping with everyday things.

“They feel like they are the bottom of the pile and nobody cares about them.

“Being with others and writing the songs is a way of helping them cope.”

The CD will be released on Friday November 2 and will be performed live at the United Reform Church on Rother Street on the same night.

The free event starts at 7pm and is hoped to awareness of the Link Project.

The profits from the CD sales and a donation bucket at the concert will help fund further music sessions.

Search Stratford Link Project on Facebook for more information.

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