Knowledge and Learning Manager Zoë Anderson talks to Sheila Smyth, Development Manager of The Right Key, about their Recovery Café in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. It’s open to everyone in the community, but gives a particular welcome to people recovering from addiction.
Since the start of the pandemic, "We’ve lost no one," says Sheila. "We were able to keep people together, keep our work going, and keep people sane and sober. I'm proud of the people, the peer mentors and the people who have been on our programme, being able to walk through this step by step, and come out whole together.
"During lockdown people who didn't normally drink, drank like mad things because they'd nothing else to do. People have come out of lockdown with massive alcohol dependencies that they didn't have before. And yet we had a group of recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, people in mental health recovery and who had experienced bereavement and sadness and brokenness - and they stayed clean and sober."
The Changemakers performed at Belfast City Hall on Saturday evening 5th May.
The evening was a fundraising event for the charity CAUSE. This charity supports carers who have friends and family members who are on a mental health journey.
They do great work and we were delighted to be a part of this memorable evening.
The Changemakers sang and performed songs that celebrated mental health and addiction recovery as all our singers are in recovery and fully understand addiction and mental health journeys.
The performance was electric, inspiring, motivating and joyful! We sang two of our own song compositions. It was particularly nice for us to perform “The Farset River” in Belfast’s City Hall as the song speaks about a new song rising in Belfast that looks to the future as a City, also in recovery.
We received a standing ovation from the large audience.
After six years in The Recovery Café in Dromore, we collectively made a decision to move our premises in order to enlarge and expand our work.
On the 4th April we moved into the Old Schoolhouse, Loughbrickland, Banbridge. This is an amazing space that was previously used for rehabilitation. It will work perfectly for all of our recovery activities and our music for health.
We did our first singing session there on the 4th April, with over 30 people in recovery from addiction and mental health journeys.
The singing and music sounded amazing and it was quite an emotional moment for us when we sang our first few notes!
We have been successful in acquiring a Peace IV renovation grant for the building. This work will take place over the next six months. It will enlarge our guitar making workshops, create a comfortable coffee shop area for food and conversation, a creative music recovery space, arts and crafts display areas and a crisis 5 bed residential space.
THE Chronicle can exclusively reveal that acclaimed community initiative, The Right Key and Recovery Café, will soon move into the former Loughbrickland Primary School.
The current Dromore scheme provides a safe place where recovering addicts can meet and socialise, and also get a chance to rebuild their lives, and the prime location, beside Loughbrickland Lough, could not be more inspiring.
Dromore’s Voice of Recovery group has taken inspiration from Belfast’s Farset River to record a ballad marking the positive impact of peace and healing on the city. The 30-strong, award-winning group of recovering addicts meets at the Recovery Cafe in Dromore, with the support of Sheila Smyth of ‘The Right Key’, a social enterprise using music and singing to promote health, healing and recovery. Written by Sheila, ‘The Farset river’ focuses on the Farset flowing underground while the city above changes. “This is a song about hope for the future,” said Sheila, “and we wanted to add our voice to the new Belfast. We come at this from a different perspective; the group is made up of people who at one time in their lives had no hope for the future but they are in recovery and their lives are changing, just like the city is changing. “We recently did an inner-city project with Radio Failte which resulted in a concert in Townsend Street . . . We did a version of the Farset River song at this...
Students and female prisoners at Hydebank Wood College with mental health and addiction issues are turning to music and song as part of their rehabilitation.
A project which encourages the young men and women in custody to participate in joint sessions has been introduced at the College by the South Eastern Trust and The Right Key Music group. Presently, more than a dozen students – male and female – join the Voice of Release group on a weekly basis to express themselves in music and song.
Highlighting the project during Prisons Week, Hydebank Wood College Governor Richard Taylor said: “So many of the young people and the women who come into Hydebank Wood are addicts or suffer mental health issues. When occupational therapists on site highlighted research of the health benefits of singing, we decided to explore the idea. The project, initially with the women and then jointly with the young men, has been embraced across the facility.
“The women have performed for their children at a family...
Every family in Northern Ireland is affected by alcohol abuse in some way says musician Sheila Smyth.
And it’s this stark fact that inspires her to devote her life to helping people stay sober once they’ve beaten their addiction.
“Through life’s pains people can turn to the wrong thing,” says Sheila. “But when you see someone like that recover, it’s like liquid gold. It’s beautiful.”
Sheila’s devotion to her work at The Right Key, a musical group for recovering alcoholics at The Recovery Cafe in Dromore, Co Down , has made her another deserving Local Lidl Hero .
The group, backed recently by the Big Lottery People and Communities Fund, brings people together to sing and play music – and vitally provide a social outlet when old groups of friends won’t help recovery.
“We help people rebuild their lives,” says Sheila, a poet, composer and songwriter.
“Those things that went when they were drinking, we help them get back. We use music for health, healing and recovery.