“Some of the barriers the choir members have had to overcome in their lives is a testament to their resilience and determination and a positive example of what young people can achieve.”

The Choir that Breaks Down Barriers

By Renee Jackson, Creative Careers Academy Intern at Creative United

Orange Box is a state of the art centre for young people based in the heart of Halifax. Everything, from the building, to individual projects are created and driven by the young people who attend the centre.

In addition to four music rehearsal rooms, Orange Box has a visual arts room, skate park and a performing arts space.

The introduction of the Orange Box Choir in January 2018 has had a demonstrable positive impact on the young people involved. It was established in response to demand from local people. Under Jamie’s leadership, with the support of Amy-Rose Atkinson (Choir Conductor) and Daniel Bath (Musical Director) the choir is opening its doors for young people in Halifax from all musical abilities. We spoke to Jamie about how music has become an outlet for the difficult challenges they face in their day to day lives.

What was the inspiration behind starting The Orange Box Choir?

I started The Choir as I could see there was a real need for an inclusive environment, where young people could express themselves musically.

The Choir is made up of children, young people, volunteers and support workers from Orange Box, Youth Works, Project Challenge, Next Step Trust, Young Foundations, Calderdale College, Ravenscliffe High School and other local services and schools.

A group of people with mixed identities, all wearing black tops, who are singing in front of microphones.

The Orange Box Choir in performance

What kind of music making and performing opportunities are involved?

The music provision at Orange Box young people’s centre is provided by Square Chapel Arts Centre as part of their Community Engagement Programme.

In addition to The Choir, there’s the Orange Box Rock School, a fun, band performance-based music project for young people aged 11-16yrs. It’s so successful that Outreach Sessions are also delivered at other youth centres, in partnership with Calderdale Youth Service.

There’s an annual summer music festival called Routes, a family-friendly event where young musicians to perform on two stages (acoustic and bands). We also offer access to facilities at low costs, such as hiring out rehearsal spaces for people under 19 at only £3 per hour.

The aim for each, is to increase opportunities for young people to gain skills, collaborate, increase confidence and meet like-minded people.

How do the music experiences offered by Orange Box help young people?

It is so important for young people to have something in their lives they can focus their energy on. The Choir provides them with the necessary support and resources to build confidence, develop relationships and skill sets. The progress we have seen in the young people we have already worked with has been rewarding for them and their communities.

Seeing young people who are lacking in confidence, now being able to perform to their local community makes us all proud. Some of the barriers the choir members have had to overcome in their lives is a testament to their resilience and determination; a positive example of what young people can achieve.

How do you think the work you have done has impacted the young people you work with?

Some people in The Choir have never sung before, some have disabilities or additional needs, and may be experiencing difficult circumstances, but all are passionate about singing.

The Choir is a huge confidence boost for them and creates a positive experience in an environment in which they feel safe. We give them the opportunity to go out into the community and perform, boosting community cohesion and supporting other local causes.

Where can people find out more about Orange Box Halifax?

Here’s a link to the section of the website where more details on Rock School and The Choir can be found –  http://www.orangeboxhalifax.org/events.asp


A list of other activities at Orange Box

Contact Jamie via jamie@squarechapel.co.uk and 01422 353073 ext. 207.