IT is a lifeline arts and music charity which helps people of all ages in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Beatroute Arts has been offering a series of projects and programmes for the past 30 years and organisers feared they would not be able to reach out to those who use the services when they may needed them most.

Lockdown could have seen people who regularly use the charity in Balornock, in the north east of Glasgow, cut off and isolated.

However, a determined team at Beatroute Arts managed to transform the charity to offer a vital link to the community online.

Covering an area sited as being within the 10% most impoverished regions in Scotland (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Analysis 2016), meant that simply switching to an online service wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Not all users had broadband connections or even the confidence in using platforms such as Zoom.

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Jenny Reeve, director of Beatroute Arts, said: “When lockdown happened we had to be very flexible and work out how we could support the community we work with. Could we operate and how we would operate were things we had to look at. We are a grass-roots community initiative and it was absolutely vital that we looked to keep going. We knew that not everyone had access to the internet or equipment and it was important to us that we didn’t move our services and classes online until most people had access to them.

“With the help of grant funding we were able to purchase ipads and look into broadband connections. We even purchased yoga mats so people could eventually take part in our online yoga classes we were planning.”

The charity offers creative and holistic activities for young people and community groups, such as older people and adults with complex support needs, and aims through its activities to improve quality of life and free learning provision.

Set up as a music project in 1990 by Glasgow City Council, it has developed to become an established community-led charity, offering activities which range from weekly drop-in workshops specialising in music tuition, song-writing, film-making, sound-production, art, fashion design, and also drama, science and yoga. There is also structured learning opportunities with their weekly stringed instrument tuition programme Take A Bow where young people learn violin, viola and cello.

Music may be the backbone of the organisation’s work but by responding to the needs of the community Beatroute have gone further. In particular the work with older participants, known at the Golden Yogis, has resulted in a creating a social support group as well as a yoga class that now meets weekly on Zoom with 82 % of Yogi’s reported feeling more connected to their community since joining the group.

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Ms Reeve added: “It is amazing to see how far people have come. We had support at the the other end of the phone when users were starting off with the likes of the Zoom yoga classes, but people are now really enjoying coming together as a community.”

As well as yoga and music tuition, the charity also offers songwriting lessons and for those with additional needs music, art and crafts classes are available.

Ms Reeve added: “Music is a great way to bring people together and group learning is a great way for young people to learn and develop music alongside other key skills. Quite often, they learn the fundamentals including numeracy, literacy, listening skills and working as a team before they even pick up an instrument.

“For those who are more socially disconnected, it has been a lifeline moving services online. As an organisation, we are supporting everyone the best we can. For those who don’t go online, we are checking in on the phone also.

“Take a Bow has been the last project to transition online because we have a lot of young people and families whose English is their second language. We didn’t want to resume the project online until everyone could join in, which we have finally done. The reaction has been great – parents have been especially positive. The online sessions give everyone something to look forward to and those that need it have instruments at home so they can keep practicing.”

As an organisation, Ms Reeves says there have been some lessons along the way.

She added: “We’ve learnt a lot too. The ultimate goal is to be back in the centre but there might be times where we have to move back online and now we can.”

The charity has already been vital for Marc Alcock, according to his mum Alison.

Marc, 26, who has autism had been going the centre every Tuesday for guitar tuition for the past two years.

His mum was concerned when lockdown began that Marc’s progress may have stalled, but Mrs Alcock, 54, said the online classes have made all the difference.

She said: “Marc joined Beatroute a couple of years ago and took up the bass guitar. He has really taken to it and enjoys it. I think it has helped with his confidence and his self-esteem. It has really brought him out of his shell. He goes every Tuesday and comes home to practice with his headphones on and doesn’t let me hear him.

“I was very worried when lockdown started as I thought that would be the end of the classes for sometime. Then we were told they were going to switch them to online. Marc sets his guitar up on a Tuesday morning and is all ready for his Zoom guitar lesson in the afternoon.

“And for me it has been very emotional as I have actually got to hear him play. His music lessons have brought us even closer together as the charity dropped off a guitar for me as well. So now we have jam sessions together.

“I think community groups like this have gone above and beyond. It has been amazing what they have been able to offer in lockdown.”

Ivan McKee MSP for Glasgow Provan said Beatroute Arts play an invaluable role in the community of Balornock.

He added: “Their work has emphasised the value of music and the arts in improving the lives of not just young people in the area but those of all ages. Learning about how they have gained greater self confidence, built new networks of friends and used the opportunity as a springboard in their lives shows the benefits of participating in activities in which they have a voice. The fact that Beatroute have gone from strength to strength since 1990 is a testament to the organisation’s inclusive and professional approach.”

For more information on Beatroute Arts go to