“In this course we all just became one. That was wonderful”

“During the lockdown, because of my age, I was told to isolate myself for three or four months. I could not see my family or anyone and felt desperate.

I was so happy when I could go out to the open air guitar course and see people.

It was wonderful to see the teacher and the other students after that unhappy time. Even if we had to keep our distance around different tables, I could still speak to people, be happy with them, and make friends. One of the lovely students found a free guitar that suited me and took it to my door.

I had been treated badly by neighbours who made me feel unwelcome, but the course made me forget those horrible things. I felt I was loved and understood.

It was great to be taught how to play Quilapayùn, the music from my country, Chile. When the teacher showed me the chords of a song by Victor Jara I cried, and later I called my new guitar Victoria in honour of Victor.

In the guitar group I felt I could freely speak about what is happening in Chile and even read a poem about my country. Just now in Chile people have voted to abolish Pinochet’s constitution – the constitution from the dictatorship, and I feel proud of them. They showed no fear and won.

In the course I loved to play music with people who were very different from me and people from other parts of the world. In this course we all just became one. That was wonderful.”

The Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) is a charity tackling inequality in Brighton and Hove through community-led solutions, through delivery of community development work, youth work, research and training. Their vision is for Brighton and Hove to become a city of equality, diversity and inclusion where our communities thrive. Their work as part of the Community Roots network involves providing community development to local community groups and providing psychosocial support to people to help build resilience, develop skills, build confidence and social networks.

Under the Community Roots network, TDC provides development support to eight BAMER community groups.

In August 2020, TDC supported and developed local Hollingdean-based charity CASE’s (Community Advice, Support and Education) multicultural music group. With a successful fundraising bid, CASE was able to run an open air guitar course called Healing From Covid to help people heal from the stress and depression caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The music group was created by CASE to encourage multicultural exchange as a response to increased racial hate in society.

CASE offers free cultural and recreational events, gives professional welfare rights advice, and offers free food, clothes and other items to families that struggle financially. The open air guitar course was sponsored by Sussex Police’s Police Property Act Fund and CASE has now received a Health Neighbourhood Fund grant to continue the initiative in a large hall through the winter.