Bloco Ashê

GMCVO, working in partnership with 10GM, are running a grants programme to support adults from communities of identity or experience, based in Greater Manchester, that may struggle to achieve higher levels of mental wellbeing.  Funded by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, a total of £175,000 will be given out between July and December 2020.

This case study looks at one of the GM Mental Wellbeing grant recipients, Bloco Ashê.

Who are they?

Bloco Ashê is a Bury borough community led percussion group whose members include adults living with long term physical and mental health conditions, disabled adults, socially isolated older people and people who are unemployed. The Group rehearse weekly and deliver performances and workshops within the borough of Bury and surrounding areas.

What do they do and why?

Bloco Ashê encourages people of the local community and surrounding areas to engage in and appreciate the value of collective participation in a community activity.

Playing within the Group has a profound, positive effect on individuals as they are encouraged to participate in a supportive environment which helps build confidence levels, self-esteem and self-belief. The Group helps people of all backgrounds and ability to re-engage through community activity enabling them to live more active and fulfilled lives. 

“It greatly helped my mental health to be able to play Samba, I felt some normality had returned to my life" - Participant

What was their project?

In June, Bloco Ashê received a GM Mental Wellbeing micro grant to deliver an interactive 12 week programme of online percussion workshops, the Group offered these sessions to their existing members and also invited members of the wider community to get involved.

Participants were introduced to world percussive music, song and dance through a study of professional world drummers and well known percussion bands and artists, as well as an explanation of the large variety of global percussion instruments. Participants were then taught grooves (patterns) using ‘body percussion’ and also learnt different types of song and dance moves.

Towards the end of the sessions, participants practiced ‘Ijexa’ a well-known Samba groove. This was done through clapping the beats. Participants were asked to film themselves clapping these beats and the Music Director has compiled a ‘Clapestry’ video which will be added to the Bloco Ashê website soon (link below).

“[I enjoyed] the musical experience, having fun [and] putting to one side worries and concerns" - Participant

What impact has the project had?

This funding enabled Bloco Ashê to bring people with a common interest together to learn and socialise as well as develop the Group's online presence. The workshops have given participants an opportunity to build their skills and feel a sense of achievement whilst also building friendships with others,  at the end of each session they were given the option to remain online to socialise which proved very positive as people were able to discuss their feelings in relation to COVID-19. This brought people together as they realised they were not alone and that others felt the same fears, apprehensions and uncertainty. Discussions quickly grew into positive conversations and led to participants sharing weekly quizzes and individual performances of song and poems. As a result of this project the Group has gained new members and are now looking forward to a time where they can bring everyone together in a physical environment, whilst continuing with online activities.

Find out more about Bloco Ashê here

Find out more about GM Mental Wellbeing Grants here.

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