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Vocal beats

Young people hospitalised with cystic fibrosis are using beat-boxing and self-made YouTube videos to manage their health and wellbeing, and tackle loneliness.

Musicians offer weekly beatboxing and singing lessons to young people with the chronic condition at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals, in London. Vocal sessions loosen the fluid in patients’ lungs to support the management of their illness, and give them someone to talk to during longer hospital stays.

Five young ambassadors with cystic fibrosis are building on this support by recording YouTube videos that provide advice and guidance to other young people with similar conditions. This is creating an online community to help tackle feelings of loneliness for young people who, due to their condition, can never meet in person.

Vocal Beats is part-funded through a £79,000 grant from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand – a partnership between Co-op Foundation and government to enhance or expand organisations’ work tackling youth loneliness.

Mia Shambrook, 17, from Hertfordshire, is one of the hospital’s young ambassadors. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in December 2018 after suffering from breathing difficulties for a number of years. A keen singer, she takes part in singing lessons offered through Vocal Beats and helped to co-design the support videos.

She said: “Singing lessons really lifted my spirits when I first stayed in hospital. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Vocal Beats has also given me the chance to get to know other young people with cystic fibrosis – it helps because they ‘get’ what I’m going through.

“I hope our videos will help tackle loneliness. We want them to be available for anyone with a chronic illness so they can feel less alone.”