I’m always grateful for you all and Refugee Council because those nice, helpful and very kind people like you I feel not alone. I feel safe and feel you all my family.
One day my mom will appreciate you all. Sometimes I feel down when some things happening which no one can stop it. I can say I’m still living because I have you all.
— A student who suffers from severe PTSD


Music is a distinct and powerful form of cultural and personal expression celebrated everywhere in the world. It provides an outlet for communal processing, encourages creative thinking and teamwork, provides a means for emotional release as well as a method of encouraging self-discipline, and is simply a blast!

Children caught in war and violence are traumatised. Their education is interrupted or non-existent, and they don’t have the resources to participate in creative activities that are vital to healthy emotional and intellectual growth. 

Our programmes are designed to encourage and enable these children to find enjoyment in music and art making, explore global cultural traditions, collaborate with their peers, bring out their inner performer, begin to process complex traumas, find security and camaraderie in joint efforts, and develop their confidence. We underpin all of our creative work with therapeutic understanding and have created a therapy department that responds to the unique needs of our young people.

The beauty of creative language is that it creates safe distance and containment for feelings and experiences and it brings us together as a community to help regulate, heal and move forward. Constantly fighting internal and external danger is exhausting and depressing, but working creatively is an immensely therapeutic experience. It is in the dynamic nature of coming together to form community that safety and connection is created.




Students’ confidence and creative voices

Personal, social & practical skills

Trusting, reliable, positive relationships with adults and peers alike



Abuse of young people within the system resulting from lack of oversight

Deterioration of mental health in some young people who are on long waiting lists for assistance


A stable and dynamic community that adjusts to address different needs

Supplemental support for survival, education, and connection


Students harness tools to overcome adversity, trauma, and stress

Guide the arts and therapeutic industries in utilising best practice when working with this vulnerable community


Audience Member

I woke this morning to read a very sad news story about the suicide of 3 child refugees from Eritrea. It underlined for me the importance of the work being done by charities like Play for Progress.  Yesterday I took part in a workshop and participatory concert with Play for Progress at the V&A.  The event was a chance to experience first hand the work that Play for Progress does with unaccompanied migrants seeking asylum here in the UK. The enthusiasm and welcoming, accepting, warm and generous spirit of the musician/teachers was both inspiring, and life-affirming. I can only imagine that arriving in the UK as a refugee is a lonely, scary, demoralising experience. What a brilliant way to reassure and nurture these young people, to transcend the hardships they have had, and continue, to endure. Through their love of music, and excellent way with people, Play for Progress had us on our feet stomping, clapping, and singing together - for just over an hour we came together with people we’d never met, and left our worries behind. I cannot think of a better way to sooth and welcome these brave young people into our society.
— Patricia Rodriguez, audience member at PFP's V&A Refugee Week Performance 2018


Chinh comes home every Friday so excited and thrilled by [Play for Progress] and she can’t wait for every Friday. It’s lovely to actually see her involved and see the delight on her face. I mean she’s almost like a different child from when we had her. She didn’t know she could play music or that she had an interest. You do a fantastic job with them! Music is so important in their lives and it’s lovely that you bring everyone together; all the different cultures, and they’ve never met and they’re all involved in this. I’m sure they’ll make really good friends if they get involved in this!
— Peter, foster carer of one of our violin students, post-Southbank Centre performance 2018



We are based in Croydon, because as these young people come into the UK, they must undergo the long and arduous process of gaining asylum through the Home Office, which has its main headquarters in this southeast suburb.

While their applications are evaluated, many of these young people are placed in foster care or youth hostels in Croydon, and only some have been entered into formal education.

Most of these teens endured harrowing experiences as they journeyed to get here, and upon arriving, discovered that the process of gaining asylum is itself is an arduous, lengthy, and traumatic one. 

We want to be there for them, to offer ways for them to connect with the diverse and often overwhelming city that is London, to practice their language skills, to release tensions and healthily offer respite from trauma in a safe space, to forge supportive friendships and relationships, and to explore and develop their own creative potential. That is why we developed our music and arts programmes, and why we offer the supplemental support that we do.

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