Care-experienced children and babies in Darlington given free music-making kits

Every baby and child aged five years or younger, who is in care in Darlington, will benefit from free music-making resources to help them form an attachment with their foster carers.

All care-experienced babies and children are being given a free bag of music-making equipment by Darlington Borough Council and Blue Cabin, as part of our This is the Place project.

Jenny Young, Director of Blue Cabin, explained: “Research has shown that music can play a really important role in the first few years of a child’s life – it can help with communication between adults and children, and it can help even very young babies form a bond with their carers.

Thanks to funding from Youth Music, County Durham Community Foundation and Creative Darlington, we’ve been able to partner with Darlington Borough Council to help care-experienced children and babies, and their carers in Darlington experience these benefits, and the latest step in this is providing these resources for babies and children to use at home.”

Each music bag includes a selection of instruments, finger puppets and other resources, designed to help carers and children sing and make music together, plus recordings of 10 nursery rhymes and songs arranged and performed by local musicians and facilitators of the weekly music making sessions – Carol Bowden and Katie Doherty. The pack will belong to the baby or child, and will stay with them if they move to a new home.

The bags are part of a larger project called This is the Place, which includes musical workshops for children and their carers, and events held at various cultural venues in Darlington, giving care-experienced families the opportunity to experience the town’s cultural offer together, perhaps for the first time.

This is the Place is funded by a grant of £30,000 from Youth Music, £1,500 from Creative Darlington and £1,500 from Darlington Borough Council and £19,500 from County Durham Community Foundation. It is delivered by Blue Cabin in partnership with staff at Darlington Borough Council’s Fostering and Supported Lodgings team, while Darlington’s Theatre Hullaballoo hosts the weekly sessions as well as events and performances for babies, children and their carers.

Cllr Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We’re delighted to once again be working with Blue Cabin to help support this initiative which links in with one of the aims of our cultural strategy, to champion engagement with culture, particularly among children and young people.

It’s just one of a range of programmes we’re supporting to help ensure our children and young people get the best start.

Find out more about early years music-making

Free early years music-making resources: We’ve published a bank of free music-making resources including a playlist of songs and a short film, explaining how music-making can support attachment and development in babies and children. Access the resources here.

Free training session: Join us for a practical guide to early years music-making on Monday 4 December at Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington. Find out more and book here.

Pictured: Stephen Wiper (Creative Darlington), Katie Doherty (musician and Blue Cabin Artist), Carol Bowden (musician and Blue Cabin Associate Artist), Joseph Robb (Darlington Borough Council) and Lucy Ridley (Blue Cabin Associate), photographed by Jamie Sproates at Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington.