Extraordinary People

This handyman is creating a music studio to nurture homeless people’s talents

Manwell Wilson believes music can help mental wellness

Often we look to movies or books or songs to find our idols, forgetting that they can live right here amongst us.

And one handyman has proved he’s worthy of hero status after creating a music studio for vulnerable kids to nurture their talents.

It all began when Manwell Wilson spied an old piano at the homeless centre he works at, noticing that it wasn’t getting as much love as the punching bag or pool table.

Simultaneously, he also observed that whenever he walked past a young person’s room in the centre, there was always music playing.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

This made him realise how powerful music is as a medium to help and support people when it comes to mental wellness. So, he set himself a challenge.

Manwell decided to bring the sounds of the piano back to life to see if he could entice the residents to play and offer them a lifeline to connect with one another too.

He bought a tuning kit, taught himself how to tune the instrument, and fixed the broken parts. Before long, it was working again and as he played, people began to watch or sit beside him.

Speaking about his mission, Manwell said: “It was great to see people wanting to get involved and it started to bring people out of the isolation of their rooms.

“A lot of these kids have been through impossible experiences in their life; in some cases, trauma.”

[Credit: Lorenzo Spoleti]

Manwell continued: “Having a musical outlet has allowed them to talk about things you wouldn’t believe. They’ve opened up about their life stories and how the music is helping them.”

Inspired by the revamped piano’s magic, Manwell decided to buy a keyboard for the centre too, prompting more and more people to flock to the music sessions.

Soon, he was offering lessons and discovering incredible natural talents within the young people that they had never known they had.

Yet Manwell’s work was only just beginning, and he has now set his heart on building a fully soundproofed recording studio – in the staff room.

Manwell said he is most excited for the young people to decorate the room and make it their own as he wants it to feel like they’re at home when they enter the studio.

He added: “There are people here who have their own YouTube channels, Soundcloud accounts and music videos and I want to get the studio in as best a shape as it can be, so I can support these young people with their future musical careers.

“That’s the vision. It’s important for them to have hope.”

We’ve no doubt Manwell will get a shout-out in their Grammy acceptance speeches.

If you are able to donate an instrument or equipment to Manwell and his team of aspiring stars, simply email: communications@evolvehousing.org.uk

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