The Aloud Charity is committed to making our services as accessible and inclusive as possible.
We are trying to make sure that all people who access our activities will be valued and treated with respect irrespective of ability, age, disability, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background.
And we are committed to delivering services for young people that are appropriate, accessible, and affordable (where they are not free).
This statement outlines our approach surrounding trans inclusion and gender identity.
Gender specific choirs
We recognise our activities for those aged 11-20 outside of school are gender segregated.
As a charity, we believe that the needs of our participants of secondary school age are best met through gender segregated activity.
We do this because we believe that it is important for boys and girls to have their separate spaces to explore their musical talent, develop their musical skills and find their voice. In the wider musical landscape of Wales, we know that there are plenty of opportunities for young people to sing together in mixed choirs both inside and outside of school. We want to build safe spaces that nurture young people to be themselves and so the ways in which we offer activities differs for boys and girls. This allows us to support young people in different ways, in regular consultation with them, to enable them to flourish.
Boys in particular often go through a significant voice change when they reach puberty and have fewer opportunities to continue singing, being told to mime or re-join groups once their voice has settled. We work with boys throughout their teenage years to support them through this change, working with choir leaders who have direct experience of this to be able to offer guidance and support during this difficult time. Our team of Community Leaders additionally provide pastoral support for our young people.
During 2021/22, following discussions with young girls, we initiated a pilot project specifically for girls in Cardiff. After its success, we have made a conscious decision to grow incrementally this area of work, recognising that we’re at an earlier stage of development and will do this without compromising our existing portfolio of boys’ choirs.
We recognise that, particularly in light of Covid-19, there has been a decrease in boys taking up the opportunity to sing, allied with an increase in concerns around boys’ mental health as well as young people’s mental health in more general terms. We want to be the organisation that is a catalyst for change in this area, helping young people to find their voice in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment.
We want to support access to anyone to attend the choir they feel most comfortable attending in terms of their gender identity. Our choir leaders and community leaders are trained to be discreet and supportive of all individual circumstance. Our aim is to be an inclusive, welcoming space that supports difference and belonging.
We know that no situation will be the same and, in some cases, you might need more information than is contained here. We encourage any potential members as well as parents / guardians to get in touch with us if you need more specific advice on how we might include you in our activity.
The names of our choirs
After undertaking consultation with our members, staff, volunteers and other young people unconnected to our work, we’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the names that create the barriers but rather how our activities are perceived. We firmly believe that it is our responsibility to break down the barriers associated with becoming members of our choirs. To us, this means engaging more with communities, ensuring we are relevant to young people today and making sure we are representative of the communities we serve. Alongside this, it is important to us that we continue to celebrate the history and achievements of our choirs over the last 12 years as well as the musical heritage of Wales.
However, we will begin to lead more with the aloud.cymru brand to support us to bring all our activity together under the one umbrella. This will help young people feel part of the wider family as well as being a member of a specific choir and, alongside this, embed us more firmly as a Welsh charity, rooted in Wales and proud of our history and singing heritage.
In order to be more inclusive and accessible to young people we are therefore planning to develop:
- A new approach to recruitment, targeting young people through other groups in addition to music departments in schools
- TikTok and Instagram accounts to specifically target young people and demonstrate that we’re more than a group of polished singers in ties
- Stakeholder events in areas where we have choirs to more fully embed ourselves in local communities, providing opportunities for people to experience our work in ‘real’ settings away from the concert stage
We know we have a way to go, but hopefully we have made a start on our journey towards being a more inclusive organisation. We are committed to ensuring that our activities are as accessible as possible to those who wish to join in. We are a learning organisation and would value any feedback from others to support us as we move forward in our ambitions.
We are also committed to supporting those we work with to have a voice in our wider work. Our members are our biggest asset and we will continue to engage with and listen to them through our Youth Forum, focus groups and questionnaires. This, alongside developing partnerships in communities, will help us to shape our future work and support us to be led by those we wish to serve.