Bedford music group gets £10k lottery funding on Blue Monday to help combat loneliness

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There'll be music courses including production, DJ skills and songwriting

The Bedford-based Outreach Music Group (OMG) has been awarded £10,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund.

The cash is being awarded today - on Blue Monday - as the National Lottery Community Fund aims to shine a light on community groups helping to combat loneliness and social isolation.

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Blue Monday is the name given to typically the third Monday of January, said to be the most depressing day of the year.

Outreach Music Group (OMG)Outreach Music Group (OMG)
Outreach Music Group (OMG)

OMG supports vulnerable adults and young people struggling with mental health issues and feelings of isolation, as well as those facing long-term unemployment, through creative music, media and poetry workshops and performances.

The community group has been awarded the cash to add additional music tuition sessions as well as expand further into areas such as creative writing, drama therapy and mental health discussion groups.

The funding will also be used to deliver peer-led virtual discussion groups and face-to-face social activities to encourage people from different backgrounds to come together and talk openly about mental health as a way of tackling the stigmas that can often be associated with it.

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Mark Stephenson, founder of OMG, said: “This funding from The National Lottery Community Fund will play a massive role in what we are able to provide to our local community.

A guitar lesson outside Outreach Music GroupA guitar lesson outside Outreach Music Group
A guitar lesson outside Outreach Music Group

"With this extra support, we are able to continue working under our ethos of ‘Creative Empowerment Through the Medium of Music and Arts’ and deliver specialised groups to those experiencing chronic and long-term mental health issues, alongside some of our long-term unemployed members.”

As Covid restrictions continue to relax, the group also has plans to add additional music courses at the Bedford Wellbeing Centre including music production, DJ skills and songwriting.

Spencer Smith - an OMG attendee since 2018 - is just one of the many people who have benefitted from the group’s music and creative writing sessions.

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The 47-year-old said: “OMG has helped me in numerous ways, even just communicating with other like-minded individuals, either online or face to face.

"This has helped me come out of myself, while the music side of OMG has helped me to express myself in a way that I haven’t been able to previously.

"Likewise, the creative writing classes have urged me to look within myself and have given me the tools to put my innermost feelings on paper, which in itself has been very therapeutic.”