Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday

Kaiser Chiefs break ground on first Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre in North East, thanks to successful partnership with Graham Wylie Foundation

Kaiser Chiefs break ground on first Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre in North East

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The Kaiser Chiefs (pictured centre) took part in the ceremonial breaking of the ground at the site of the future Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre in a suburb of Newcastle yesterday

Some famous faces helped break the ground on what will become music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins’ first purpose-built therapy centre in the North East on 1 November – DonateToday went along to check it out.

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapists are skilled musicians who work hard to make musical opportunities accessible to those who have real need of them. They work with people facing a huge variety of challenges, including those with mental health issues, learning difficulties, autism and dementia.

While the organisation is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK, providing opportunities for music therapy across the country in a wide variety of settings, there are currently very few locations it works in that have been designed with the charity’s purpose in mind. 

With support from local charity the Graham Wylie Foundation, however, Nordoff Robbins will open a bespoke music therapy centre in Jesmond, a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, in the spring of next year – the first of its kind the charity will run outside London.

When it opens in the spring of 2018, the Jesmond location will be the first purpose-built Nordoff Robbins location in the North East

DonateToday spoke to some of the key people at the breaking-of-the-ground event.

‘Music therapy may not be a thing that everyone is familiar with,’ admitted Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines, keyboard player with the Kaiser Chiefs, but the band are helping to raise awareness of music therapy and its benefits across the North East. The Kaiser Chiefs helped raise money for the Centre by performing at the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Raise concert, organised by the Graham Wylie Foundation at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena last year.

‘There’s been loads of fundraising since then,’ enthused Ricky Wilson, lead vocalist with the band. ‘It’s going to be incredible – we’ve just walked around the site. It’s something to do with music so it connects with us deeply and we love being part of it.’

‘It’s using music as medicine,’ Nick chimed back in. ‘There are a lot of conditions that can be treated medically, but sometimes music therapy can be the answer.’

‘We’re going to have three therapy rooms,’ enthused Alison Hornblower, Nordoff Robbins’ Regional Manager for Yorkshire and the North East. ‘We’re hoping to provide all sorts of different settings. We might have an individual session which might need more sound-proofing and a more private space, but then we’ll have more of a community focus for larger groups.

Evie (pictured, centre) has already benefitted from Nordoff Robbins' music therapy and was on hand to see the ceremonial breaking of the ground at the new site

‘We have a number of projects already in the North East, working with partner organisations,’ she continued, ‘But what makes this so amazing is that we haven’t had an actual centre where people who can’t access our services through those partner organisations can come and access music therapy. We’re really fortunate that the Graham Wylie Foundation have given us this space so that we can have this bespoke centre here.’

‘I started my Foundation about a year and a half ago and employed a lady called Angie Jenkison,’ explained Graham Wylie, founder of the charity which bears his name. ‘She took me to see the Nordoff Robbins Centre down in London and said it would be great to bring it to Newcastle. 

‘Because I owned the building it’s going to be in, I said “Why don’t we try and raise the money to try and refurbish it and extend it, and that can be the Nordoff Robbins Centre,’” he continued. ‘Everyone loves music, but this is using music for the benefit of people to make sure they have a better quality of life. 

‘My charity’s all about helping, educating and inspiring so it falls right into that remit.' he finished. 'We’re hoping that we can help thousands of kids have more confidence and go out there singing and dancing.’