The Choir with No Name Lifeline


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The Choir with No Name

Singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews presents an appeal on behalf of the Choir with No Name, a charity which invites homeless people to sing together.


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'I want to show you

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'how music can transform the lives of people who've lost their way.

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'People like the 173,000 of us who ended up homeless last year.'

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Everyone's experienced tough times in their lives, myself included.

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I've always found music has helped pull me through.

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But I've always had a warm place to sleep

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and people who cared about me and money for food.

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Not everyone's always so fortunate.

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Shane Nolan's descent into homelessness

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began innocently enough in his teenaged years.

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I was a really active person with friends,

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going out partying and stuff like that.

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So, you know, pretty much the soul and life of most parties.

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Um, then it got to a point where it got quite dark

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and the party scene sort of gave up.

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I got involved with heroin at the age of 18.

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Before long, Shane was in the grip of heroin addiction.

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I didn't really give a damn about anyone besides myself.

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It just took me to a place

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where I just didn't really care about anyone else

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besides getting what I wanted, using, getting high.

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In the chaos of addiction, Shane ended up sleeping rough.

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Freezing cold sometimes,

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you know, not having enough clothes, not having enough food.

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I was living, I was present,

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but I was literally dead inside, you know,

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so I had to fuel that with drinking and using drugs.

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Shane was just about surviving as a homeless drug addict,

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but when his mother died, everything changed.

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I got to a point where I just thought, "No,

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"I can't go on like this, I can't deal with the pain."

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I had attempted to take my life.

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I didn't want to be here any more.

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At his lowest point, Shane needed to find something

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that would start to give his life a new meaning.

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Homelessness is not just about lacking a roof over your head.

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People can often feel

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as though they've lost their sense of identity and belonging,

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and that's why I'm asking you to help this charity

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that gives people hope and invites homeless people in from the cold

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to experience the transcendental power of music

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by singing together as one.

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This is The Choir With No Name.

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh, snowman

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# Until the other kiddies knock him down

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# When it snows, ain't it thrilling!

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# Though your nose gets a chilling

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# We'll frolic and play the Inuit way

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# Walking in a winter wonderland! #

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Yay!

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That was absolutely tremendous, thank you so much.

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'The choir provides a place of refuge for people like Suzanne,

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'who, like many that end up on the streets,

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'experienced appalling abuse in her past.'

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It was a planned rape, and I was 15 and a half.

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Then it happened again.

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And it changed my life...completely.

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So I tried to block it.

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And I turned to drink.

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And then it started to become addictive.

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The bottle was my mate.

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Nobody else was my mate, but the bottle was my mate.

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And without the bottle, I didn't exist.

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Suzanne spent years drifting in and out of work

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and ended up in prison for a short time.

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When she got out, she had nowhere to call home.

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I was homeless for three years, and I was on the streets.

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I couldn't get myself together.

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I knew that this...thing like I've become,

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like drinking and abusive and swearing and nasty,

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I thought, "That's not my character, I'm not nasty inside.

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"So this drink is taking the worst out of me."

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I didn't want to be horrible towards other people any more.

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That's why I knew I had to change.

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The reasons why people end up adrift are often very complicated,

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and that's what so great about The Choir With No Name.

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No matter their background, the members are welcomed in

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to enjoy the uplifting feeling of singing together,

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experience something beautiful

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and, for a little while, set their worries aside.

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# In the meadow we can build a snowman... #

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The charity has thriving choirs, like this one in London,

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in Birmingham and Liverpool, too,

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but with your help they would be able to create more choirs

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and reach hundreds more people across the UK.

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Finding a place where you belong is a really key element to progressing

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and to kind of finding a way out of the difficulty that you've been in,

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and so that's what we provide here, basically.

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It's somewhere where people find a home

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and can really start to feel like themselves again and progress.

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After 37 years of heavy drinking,

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Suzanne was desperate for something to replace the bottle,

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and a friend told her about the choir.

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As soon I saw them all, I felt that this was the place for me to be.

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This is the place for me to start to sort my life out.

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I started to feel...comfortable, because it's like a family.

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Having attended rehearsals for the last five months,

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Suzanne is now beginning to feel herself changing.

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It's beginning to replace alcohol.

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I never thought I'd find something that could replace it,

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not after 37 years.

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The more I think about going there and concentrating

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and doing what I've got to do, the better I feel.

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So that's the best thing I ever did

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is join the choir.

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Once a week the members of this choir

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can come to a place where they are not in any way judged,

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and that regular commitment and sense of purpose

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really can form the foundations of a new life.

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# Turn around

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# Every now and then I get a little bit lonely... #

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Shane joined the choir, performed in their videos

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and has been taken aback by the powerful effect of singing.

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'It's release.'

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Being able to vocalise, maybe just that little bit of anger,

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that little bit of hurt,

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the little bit of, you know, that joyfulness.

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# And I need you now tonight... #

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'And it does actually take you out of self.

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'It's a big confidence booster.'

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# And if you'll only hold me tight... #

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After spending four years in the choir,

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Shane successfully got himself through drug rehab,

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now has a roof over his head and a job helping fellow addicts.

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I love what I do at the moment, I really do.

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It nurturing me, it's nurturing others.

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If I hadn't been with The Choir With No Name,

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for that amount of time, I don't think

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I'd be as confident as I am today without singing and nurturing music.

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# A total eclipse of the heart. #

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Being homeless is especially difficult this time of year,

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so it's vitally important that The Choir With No Name

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is able to continue giving people the strength

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and inspiration to rebuild their lives.

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So far the charity has been able to help hundreds of people,

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but there are many more out there

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who they want to touch with the power of song.

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With your help, they can.

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Please go to the website, it's bbc.co.uk/lifeline,

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where you can donate.

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If you don't have access to the internet, then call 0800 011 011.

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If you don't get through straightaway,

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please, please try again.

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You can also donate £10 by texting.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge,

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and the whole £10 goes to The Choir With No Name.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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Or if you'd like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to The Choir With No Name

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and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing Choir With No Name on the back of the envelope.

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And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address

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so that they can send you a Gift Aid form.

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Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews presents an appeal on behalf of the Choir with No Name, a charity which invites homeless people in from the cold to experience the transcendent power of music by singing together as one. She discovers that the regular commitment, and sense of purpose that belonging to a choir gives its members, can form the foundations of a new life.

The film features Shane, whose life fell apart after his mother died. Alcohol, drug use and having to sleep rough took a heavy toll and he tried to take his own life. But joining the choir gave him a desperately needed sense of belonging and the confidence to rebuild his life. He's now in work and recording an album.