How we’re engaging Streetwise Opera performers during the lockdown

Since launching our Streetwise Sessions on 26 March, we are delighted that 75 Streetwise Opera performers have been able to engage with these online workshops on Facebook and YouTube. Additionally, we’ve had over 5,400 views from the general public on these platforms. The feedback from the sessions has been very positive; here are some of our favourite comments from Streetwise participants.

“I think the workshops are a brilliant idea, and I have loved every session as it brings us all together in these dark times, to forget all our troubles.”

“They have been absolutely amazing and seeing all of the different leaders from different Streetwise groups is fantastic l have had a great time so far.”

“Of course, nothing beats a live group, but this is the next best thing.”

“I especially like having contact with all those performers from groups across the country; it helps me to realise I have extended family out there. I’m completely self-isolating, not going out at all, because my asthma is so bad. This contact with old friends and new, is great and I look forward to it. There’s something lovely about knowing we’re all singing the same lines, at the same time; even though I’m having no contact with anyone at the moment, it makes me feel less alone. Thank you for continuing to keep us in touch with one another. It makes a big difference to my life, such as it is at the moment. Thanks and take care all of you there. You are very, very special to more people than you could ever know.”

As the lockdown continues, we have been carefully considering how we can continue to support Streetwise Opera performers and other people affected by homelessness. Following conversations with regular participants, support workers and partners in the homelessness sector across our five regions, we have a clearer understanding of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people affected by homelessness:

  • Most homelessness support centres have had to close (often at very short notice), and are offering services digitally or via phone where possible.
  • Our partners and team are trying to locate and establish contact with participants who have been placed in hotels; not all rough sleepers have been accommodated.
  • People are afraid of the spread of the virus, particularly those who are living in crowded accommodation or those with existing health issues; as a result, some people are feeling scared, extra vulnerable and anxious.
  • Many people are feeling very isolated, lonely and cut off from the world.
  • Due to the closure of support centres, most support activities have been cancelled (e.g. training, volunteering, faith-based and social activities) – leading to boredom.
  • Many participants are reporting mental health challenges, including depression.

We have seen that the need for regular creative and social engagement is greater than ever. We are therefore pleased to be able to continue our Streetwise Sessions, led by our regular artists from around the country. They will take place from Monday to Friday at 12 noon until Friday 10 May. Each week our artists will be focusing on the songs and stories from a different opera, starting with Verdi’s Aida. The workshops are open to the general public via our YouTube channel.

From 13 May we’re planning a vocal project where people around the country will learn new songs in sessions three times a week, and we hope to produce a multi-screen video and audio recording of the songs. We’ll continue running digital ‘tea breaks’ on Zoom for performers to chat after sessions twice a week.

We’re also thinking carefully about how we can support people who don’t have online access. We are in regular phone contact with around 135 Streetwise Opera performers across the country, and we have sent DVDs of our online sessions to performers who don’t have internet access but have a DVD player. We are also researching and developing a series of creative postal packs which we hope to send out to participants between now and July.

To support our vital work as the lockdown continues, make a donation now, or check out our Big Virtual Quiz with Alan Cumming on 6 May!

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