Feeling their way: Women and children using music to navigate transitions from domestic violence.

An evaluation of PMZ’s work with residents of a Domestic Abuse Refuge in Plymouth by Professor Jocey Quinn and Claudia Blandon from Plymouth University.

This report shows the powerful effects of Plymouth Music Zone’s work helping women and children in a local domestic refuge. Researchers at Plymouth University were commissioned by the charity to study the impact of its creative music-making project in a Domestic Abuse Refuge in the city. The project, ‘Music for a Change’ aimed to empower emotionally vulnerable children and young people experiencing challenging and sometimes traumatic changes by providing high quality ‘musical respite’. The sessions offered opportunities for self-expression that set out to improve their resilience to their circumstances and was thought to be only one of very few projects of its kind in the country.

PMZ’s Executive Director, Debbie Geraghty, says, “Plymouth Music Zone is all about reaching out to bring music to the forgotten corners of the city to vulnerable children and their families. This powerful work showed how music can create a real sense of hope at people’s darkest times and give them the strength to imagine a future that’s different. And without hope no change can ever happen can it? I was humbled to see that actually just one hour a week of music can give them an immense sense of freedom again and that means so much. That’s why we do what we do.”

The independent evaluation, “Feeling their way: women and children using music to navigate transitions from domestic violence”, was completed by Professor Jocey Quinn and Claudia Blandon. It found music sessions played a vital role in breaking existing cycles of negative expectations, facilitating resilience and promoting emotional health. They enabled mothers and children to spend time together helping them build trust and confidence offering chances to make choices again. The findings describe the work as “inspiring” and recommend extra resources are made available to train up more Music Leaders and deliver more sessions.

Plymouth University Professor, Jocey Quinn, believes the work also has broader significance and says, “Domestic violence against women is a huge social problem. Our research contributes to a wider understanding of this issue, showing the vulnerability and the resilience of women and children who escape and seek the vital support of the Refuge. It demonstrates how PMZ is sensitively using music to help support their transitions into safety and freedom.”

The research, funded by The National Foundation for Youth Music, was launched at a special seminar at Plymouth University attended by a range of academics, Health and Social Care professionals. The day included practitioner and research presentations, films and discussions.

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Quinn, J., & Blandon, C. (2014). Feeling their way: Women and children using music to navigate transitions from domestic violence. Plymouth: Institute of Education, Plymouth University.