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‘Its critical for us’ - charity fears for future if the Brickmakers closes

PUBLISHED: 08:20 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:47 02 October 2018

Tony Grint, one of the musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Tony Grint, one of the musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

A charity which supports adults with emotional and learning difficulties fears for its future if a popular Norwich venue is forced to close.

Roger Bentley, left, volunteer, teaches guitar to Matt Daniels, and both are musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRoger Bentley, left, volunteer, teaches guitar to Matt Daniels, and both are musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Black Dog Music Project provides music therapy for people suffering from a range of disabilities and mental illnesses, including Downs Syndrome, severe depression and substance addiction.

One of the project’s highlights is the opportunity for service users to perform live at the Brickmaker’s B2 venue every three months.

But two weeks ago the popular pub and music venue announced it was facing closure due to rent increases.

The Brickmakers provide the space and equipment free of charge and cultivate a safe space for the vulnerable musicians to perform.

Kerri Madders, one of the musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYKerri Madders, one of the musicians who benefit from the Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues, and who may lose their venue if the Brickmakers closes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Colin Bain, CEO of the charity, said the gigs provide crucial structure and purpose for people living otherwise chaotic lives.

He said: “If the Brickmakers ever closed down we wouldn’t have anywhere to go. Its very difficult to put these types of people into a pub environment because the people that drink too much perhaps could take the mickey out of people with serious issues.

“Without the gig we could peter down because it won’t give the people motivation to come and play. Its critical for us.”

Kerry Madders, 39, has suffered from agoraphobia for 10 years.

Colin Bain, chairman and chief executive, Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYColin Bain, chairman and chief executive, Black Dog project, helping with mental health issues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Defined by the NHS as “a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult” the condition has severely limited the Hellesdon mum’s independence.

Despite her initial doubts, the 39-year-old said the Black Dog project appealed because of it’s focus on music.

The keen drummer now meets a music teacher every week and is working towards performing her first live show at the B2.

She said; “Music is brilliant therapy. It’s a release and I feel proud of myself each time I learn something.

“It gives me self worth and pride that I can achieve. Over the two years I’ve now got comfortable enough to play in a band and hopefully play the gig at the B2 in December - that’s my goal.”

More than 15,000 people have signed our online petition to save the Brickmakers at change.org

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