Lewisham Music becomes an award-winning independent charity, picking up ‘The Try Something New Award’ at the London Youth Awards 2022.


On Monday 7 November, London Youth hosted The London Youth Awards, a unique date in the calendar when the capital’s youth sector comes together to celebrate the impact of youth work and the people who make it happen. The event welcomed over 250 youth professionals, young Londoners, funders, politicians, and key sector figures to Conway Hall.


Lewisham Music went to the event having been shortlisted for not just one, but two awards – ‘The Being There Award’ and ‘The Try Something New Award’, and considering that this year saw the highest ever number of nominations, reaching the shortlist alone was a huge achievement.


A bit about the awards and why we were shortlisted…


The Being There Award

This award recognises how we adapted, developed, and responded during and post-pandemic. Lewisham Musi provided over 5000 hours of online music lessons, groups, projects, and events to over 2000 young people which ensured we kept young people connected and creative. We launched #LewishamLoungeFest, a digital music festival, and also partnered with Lewisham Device Library and local housing association Phoenix Community Housing to ensure young people had digital access. Post-pandemic we have set up specific activity for young people who were disproportionately affected and experienced mental health challenges, including programmes for young people from low-income families, young asylum-seekers, and care experienced young people.


The Try Something New Award

This award recognises the achievements of Sonic Minds, our two-year creative music project working with care experienced and displaced young people allowing them to share their stories, celebrate their identity and express themselves through music. This includes the creation of The Sonic Mind, an interactive sound installation in the form of a brain sculpture!




It was a great privilege being nominated alongside so many unbelievable youth organisations, all doing amazing work throughout London around key issues including homelessness, mental health, teenage relationship abuse, as well as working to help refugees and asylum seekers. This just made the fact that we were able to pick up ‘The Try Something New Award’ even more special.


We caught up with our Director of Community Music, and project producer, Keith Sykes…


“On behalf of the whole team at Lewisham Music we are so proud to have won ‘The Trying Something New Award’ at the London Youth Awards. Being in a space with so many other inspiring youth charities across London felt amazing. This award recognises the work of our dedicated team and the inspirational young people we get to work with every week”



Congratulations to all the organisations who won an award and we wanted to give a big shout out to all the great youth organisations out there, as well as to all the Lewisham Music team, our partners, funders, and all the young people we work with!


Here are a few snaps of us collecting the award and showing it around its new home…



A journey into Sonic Minds…


The background

Last year, the Office of National Statistics found that the mental wellbeing of young people in the UK is in decline, with the charity Young Minds estimating that five children in every UK classroom have a mental health problem. For care experienced children and young people displaced from their home countries they are approximately four times more likely to suffer from poor mental health.


Following COVID-19, and amid an ongoing cost of living crisis and climate emergency, these figures are only set to rise further. It’s a concerning picture, and the need for young people to have regular access to creative outlets is more important than ever before.


Our response

In response to the mental health challenges facing young people, youth charity Lewisham Music collaborated with education leaders, mental health professionals and young people to co-design the project ‘Sonic Minds’. This two-year creative music project has created safe spaces for hundreds of young people to explore their own identities, voice their emotions and share their stories.


As part of this project Lewisham Music is working with independent research partners such as Sound Connections and Goldsmiths University to explore the connection between music-making and young people’s wellbeing.


The project participants


“I think you need to know that they are the most brave, courageous, resilient, artistic, beautiful individuals, who, whether it’s through trauma or experience, have been given an opportunity to represent themselves in a new way, with a new life, and there is a bravery and courage to that that I don’t think I can see in any other group.”

Yasmin Ali, Project Facilitator for Lewisham Music



The project has supported over 350 care experienced children and/or displaced young people living across South-East London. This inspiring group of young people have created a beautiful library of original music and spoken word shaped by their lived experience, stories, hopes and ambitions.


“The change in Aisha’s wellbeing throughout the project was visibly evident through her words, level of engagement, facial expressions and posture.”

Social Worker






“Music is my therapy, it is a space for me to step away from everything else and be free.”

Sonic Minds participant, age 15



“Music is easier than words, I can share what I want in a way that is comfortable to me.”

Sonic Minds participant, age 17



“The drumming is so fun, I have learned new ways to communicate and make friends.”

Sonic Minds participant, age 16




‘The Sonic Mind’ sculpture


As part of this project, we collaborated with sound engineer and artist, Gawain Hewitt to create an interactive sound installation, a brain cast in pewter which when touched trigger recordings of the work made by the young people.


“The piece celebrates the unknowable creativity of the brain. It advocates for the participants of our Sonic Minds project to allow their music and sounds to be elevated and celebrated.”

Gawain Hewitt



The sculpture is conductive and allows the public to take a journey through music created by displaced young people by moving their finger around the different parts of the sonic brain sculpture. With each touch audiences bring new music and stories to life.


Over the past two years our team of professional musicians have worked with groups of care experienced and displaced young people to create original music and spoken word, capturing their stories, experiences, hopes and ambitions. As the project has progressed, we have built a library of music and spoken word, which serve as a living collection and testament to these young people and their stories.


I like the fact you can touch the artwork. It goes against the normal museum rules.”

Member of the public



The Sonic Mind on the move…


The Sonic Mind has been making appearances throughout Lewisham over the last few months, it’s already been displayed at Royal College of Music, Deptford Lounge, Lewisham Library, Catford Library, Lewisham Shopping Centre, Crossing Borders Festival and a 4-month residency at The Horniman.


“Super inspired to hear young people’s creativity shine through their music and stories. It was interesting to hear the quality of the music too, I hadn’t assumed it would sound as professional as it does.”

Member of the public



“I think all too often we just take our perceptions from the news outlets and don’t take time to listen and reflect on the actual voices of young refugees. The spoken word pieces knocked me for six and really made me rethink and challenge some of my perceptions.”

Member of the public




Find out more…

If you’d like to find out more about Sonic Minds then please click through to the links below.


Project funder

Sonic Minds is kindly backed by Youth Music.


Youth Music's website