A song from the heart
6 August 2012
“People often join clubs to share an activity and have fun with people they can become friends with. But people who are in boarding houses, who are on the poverty line or who have mental health problems – it is harder for them. They need a little bit more assistance to connect them and keep them connected to others.” – Major Bryce Davies
Recently, a number of Streetlevel staff and community members joined Inner City West Salvos musicians in an urban recording studio (with time and expertise generously donated) to record an original composition titled “The Streetlevel Song”.
“We’re not quite rock stars, but sitting in a recording studio, singing along, sure makes you feel like one,” laughs Salvation Army Brisbane Streetlevel manager, Major Bryce Davies.
The experience, according to Bryce, created “a buzz” for weeks around Steetlevel, which works to transform the lives of people who live within Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and are struggling with issues such as homelessness, loneliness or mental health issues.
The song writing and recording process began when one of the Streetlevel regulars, Hans, and eight others from the service, went on a Fraser Island fishing trip (sponsored by the Brisbane High Rise Rotary Club and Noosa Salvos).
On the trip, Hans mentioned his love of playing guitar, and on returning to Streetlevel, was encouraged to start playing again. Others soon joined in and then helped co-write the song.
Bryce says the transformation in Hans and others has been inspiring.
He says: “The music is like therapy. When Hans arrived at Streetlevel, he was homeless and was a very broken man.
“He came to Streetlevel and very quickly reconnected with a sense of faith that he had in his life before. Very soon we recognised him as someone with a great work ethic and very reliable.
“He took on the running of the coffee van (which is used for community outreach and hospitality training). We have two or three events a week, one recently with 3,000 people, so you can imagine the amount of energy and coordination required to pull that off.”
Hans now has part-time work and secure accommodation.
Another band member, Simon, was also homeless and living temporarily in The Salvation Army Pindari Men’s Hostel. A gifted artist, Simon hadn’t played the guitar for over 10 years.
Simon also found work and stable accommodation as his confidence increased. Both Hans and Simon are now Adherent members of The Salvation Army and are regularly involved in serving the community though the Salvos.
The Streetlevel service works to provide support through a variety of means, such as housing support, a drop-in centre, community meals and worship.
Bryce says that the joy, and sense of community connection, brought about through ventures such as the band and recording, are all designed to build relationships, which are essential for people who often are very lonely.
And, he says, gaining a sense of achievement is critical in beating the downward spiral.
Bryce says: “If you have been given the message all your life that you’re no good and not talented, and you have that message playing in your head, it can seem like you are destined to keep failing.
“But we keep saying, ‘no, God loves you and you are special. You are part of His Kingdom, part of the body of Christ and you have a unique mission.’
“And the more evidence we have to show the negative message to be a lie, the more they can begin to live from the perspective of, ‘I have got potential, I can be committed to things. And, as part of a community of loving people around me, I can pull off stuff I never dreamed was possible!’”