On Sunday 12 March, Rob and our volunteer, Chris Williams have been interviewed by Sophie Law on BBC Radio Oxford. The powerful interview can be listened to here, with kind permission of BBC Radio Oxford.

Rob has been picking up a guitar on and off for the past 20 years and has never progressed past the same song and the same few chords. He is a massive music lover and his knowledge on the subject is outstanding. He knows the lyrics to countless Bob Dylan and Black Sabbath songs but he has never been able to play and share them. Rob has been on the streets and in and out of services for years but he was never asked what he liked or enjoyed, he has not been given the chance to further this positive hobby. This changed when he was given the opportunity to expand his music repertoire and explore his love of music further by visiting the Soundworks Studio in Oxford. Access to the studio came about through local brokering conducted by Mayday coaches and this has been funded through successfully applying for a grant through Midcounties Co-op which will keep this exciting project going for the next year. Here Rob worked with a Mayday volunteer who was able to teach him guitar and move on from that 20-year-old tune. By the end of 4 weeks, he recorded himself playing and singing a Bob Dylan song.  

Rob was delighted. As we sat over coffee, he proudly presented me with his CD. He said he couldn’t get across how much this meant to him and how pleased he was that he was able to do it. He walked into the studio and never thought he would be able to record a song. He left with a CD; a solid tangible outcome which demonstrated to him he is capable and he can achieve. He was proud of how far he has come.  

Rob decided it was OK not to have a drink the night after he recorded a song, he felt that the buzz he got from his studio experience was enough. We talked excitedly about it for some time and hatched plans for future musical adventures. Rob found something positive, something he deeply cared about, that he could grow and build on.

These moments are very special. As a coach at Mayday, we do not identify needs and deficiencies, provide fixes and constantly measure progress, we focus on the strengths of individuals so that they realise that they have the potential and ability to achieve their own aspirations. Developing this self-belief and providing suitable platforms to facilitate it is central to everything we do. We do not direct people to a sector-specific, trivial social activity centre, we broker real life opportunities (such as recording a song at a studio) and work with volunteers to nurture people’s interests.

Rob surprised himself and saw himself in a different light. He was able to redefine himself from the guy who wished he could play more than a few chords to someone who records songs in a studio! This single triumph can then percolate through his whole being and allow him to reimagine many areas of his life where he had defined himself as inadequate.

Rob is going to send his CD to his daughter so she can enjoy it and he can share his new found skill. He is excited about her reaction and to know her thoughts on it. He knows his daughter has always believed in him and here is his evidence for her. Rob has planted a seed of belief and our job now is to nurture this in order for Rob to change other 20-year-old tunes.

Living on the streets, you get accustomed to that lifestyle. It takes a while to adjust to living on the mainstream. You take it for granted that people don’t care about you. When you work with Mayday, they do . . . Never in my wildest dreams, I would have thought I could be recording in a studio. (Rob) 

On Sunday 12 March, Rob and our volunteer, Chris Williams have been interviewed by Sophie Law on BBC Radio Oxford. The powerful interview can be listened to here, with kind permission of BBC Radio Oxford.