How did Handfuls of Harmony start?
In 2010 the South West Bristol Co-operative Learning Trust was created to strengthen the collaboration between four schools in BS3: Ashton Park (Secondary School) and Ashton Vale, Compass Point and Luckwell Primary Schools, and to ensure their valuable assets (buildings and playing fields) remain under the control of people in the BS3 community. This Co-operative Learning Trust is supported by partner organisations who all have representatives on the Trust Board. See www.swbclt.org.uk for full information.
The Co-operative Learning Trust has organised a number of events to bring together pupils, parents and staff from the BS3 schools with people living and working in the wider community, and the idea of an all-age choir emerged in 2013. We called it Handfuls of Harmony to reflect the fact that we bring together groups from different schools and different parts of the wider community.
The Co-operative Community Fund gave us a grant of £1,400 to support our inaugural concert at St. Francis Church in November 2013, and we have received further support from the Barry and Peggy High Foundation, which enabled us to include Ashton Gate Primary School as well as the original four schools.
In January 2015 we secured a grant of £50k from The People's Millions Lottery Fund, which meant we were able to start new groups in the community to meet different needs, and arranged a number of public performances in the summer and autumn of 2015.
Although the Lottery funding has now ended, the choirs are now self-financing and continue to attract new members, entertaining the public at two annual concerts at St Paul's Church, Southville.