Local kids are a ‘brass act’ thanks to our ROCA funding


Oldham children are experiencing the joys of music thanks to our ROCA funding.

Mossley-based community group, Incredible Plastic Street Band (IPSB), launched in 2016 to help youngsters get into ‘brass’ by using very lightweight instruments made from plastic. It has since expanded to Oldham and is one of the many groups to benefit from our funding scheme, Respect Our Community Awards (ROCA).

Through ROCA, local voluntary and community groups can bid for up to £500 to help boost Oldham’s communities and IPSB was awarded a cash boost to purchase items for the children.

Beren Airstone, founder of the Incredible Plastic Street Band, said: “We’ve been cooped up for over a year, practising online due to Covid-19, so we were delighted when the restrictions lifted, and we could rehearse in-person again.

“We rehearse outside in a community growing hub called ‘Veg in the Park’ which means we are in danger of getting wet thanks to the great British weather, so we bought bright coloured umbrellas for the kids to keep them dry. They also double up as parasols too so we can practice come rain or shine.”

Veg in the Park, based in Waterhead Park on Peach Road, also received ROCA funding from FCHO and purchased new, sustainable benches - made from 2665 recycled milk cartons - which IPSB use every week.

Beren added: “Brass can be quite an exclusive world with music lessons and instruments costing hundreds of pounds, so by using plastic ‘brass’ instruments in a community setting, we’re able to involve children who might not have had the opportunity.

“We help Oldham’s children gain qualifications and boost their confidence through our tuition, but most importantly, we enable them to have fun, make friends and learn about where they live. Currently we’re working on a project called Cotton Culture where the children use instruments and body percussion to recreate the sounds of Oldham’s mills from times gone by.

“We’re extremely thankful for initiatives like ROCA which help us to knock down accessibility barriers and support the little ones to flourish in the wonderful world of music.”

Our Stronger Communities team currently hosts ROCA funding twice a year and supports community and voluntary groups to apply for other local and national funding such as the National Lottery Community Fund.

Emma Cafferky, Stronger Communities Manager at FCHO, said: “We strive to provide fantastic homes for our customers at FCHO, but crucially, we also want to create thriving neighbourhoods with a real sense of community spirit and that’s exactly what we hope to achieve with our funding and our wider work.

“It’s amazing to see ROCA recipients such as the Incredible Plastic Street Band doing so well and our local communities reaping the benefits. We encourage anyone involved with voluntary or community initiatives that would benefit from our support to get in touch.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding through or supported by us can contact our Stronger Communities team at roca@fcho.co.uk

Sisters Lexi And Bethany Taylor, Elizabeth Shaw And Jacob Roberts In IBSP Recycled Plastic Benches At Veg In The Park