What Does Handy Voices Mean to Me? by Shakeel Marham

Photo Credit: Stu Allsopp

Photo Credit: Agata Urbiniak


Shakeel asked to write a blog for HV as he feels that “It is impacted me so much in my life, I have to tell everyone”.  Shakeel was part of our youth music project, Youth Handy Voices that ran in 2018 in partnership with the My Normal Project at the Ark T Centre and funded by Youth Music. When that project ended, Shakeel decided to join the adult choir to continue with his journey and had excelled. Here in his own words are his thoughts and feelings about HV.


What Handy Voices Means to Me?



Handy Voices is an INCLUSIVE Choir, as they accept anyone and everyone on a huge on a wide spectrum. Some examples include, people who are deaf, Hearing, Hard of Hearing, Disabled, and from the LGBTQIA+ Community and Allies.

They are a Signing Choir:

Handy Voices is not just an ordinary Choir they are a Signing Choir, meaning they perform with Sign Language, and they use Mouth Patterns whilst singing to the songs and Music.

They Use BSL:

Handy Voices uses British Sign Language, this is because BSL is the language that most Deaf people use, and it is nationally recognised as the language that Deaf people in the UK. Also not only does Christine teach us songs in BSL she also teaches us BSL Signs for allowing to converse with people who are Deaf, who are part of the Deaf Community, and also tells us what the signs mean, and how people in the Deaf Culture use them.


Handy Voices is very supportive, it is approachable and if you have any problems then you can talk to someone without any hesitation, and they can help you to sort out any problems. Also, the people in Handy Voices are very encouraging and will help you if you get stuck with anything. Another reason why I love Handy Voices is because Christine asks everyone how they feel and depending on how a person feels, whether they are feeling Happy or Sad, Stressed or Excited, the others can emphasize how a person feels which I personally find very important as it shows there are people out there who care for you, without judging anyone.


Photo Credit: Stu Allsopp
Photo Credit: Stu Allsopp


Everyone at Handy Voices are extremely friendly, and welcoming, and you can easily make new friends, and there are not any signs of or any bullying. This makes Handy Voices a Fun and Safe Place to be, and it such a Lovely Place, personally it makes me feel that is one of the places that I go to that makes feel that is where I belong.

My Second/ 2nd Family

I have made so many friends at Handy Voices, who are all my close and Best friends which makes me feel that they are my second family. Also, I feel very comfortable and confident talking to all the people in Handy Voices.

Performance Opportunities:

Due to Handy Voices I have had so many amazing opportunities, most of all I have had so many performing opportunities, some examples include:

Performing at the Royal Albert Hall, this was amazing as I have never heard of the location before, and it was amazing seeing the location as it was classy and very grand, and the interior design was so beautiful and stunning. Also, it was amazing to have a Standing Ovation at the end, and seeing a Balloon Drop in reality as well as having Indoor Fireworks and Confetti Machines. Handy Voices was performing there as it was part of the BBC Youth Proms Event. Following the performance at the Royal Albert Hall, there was a re-enactment of the performance at Blenheim Palace earlier on this year, which was fun as I have been to the Palace in the past, but I have never performed there before.

Performing at the Cowley Road Carnival was very fun as I have performed there twice in a row, last year was fun as I never go to take part in the procession before, and I am managed to experience something new, and performing there this year was also fun, as I discovered and explored a new part of the Carnival that I have never been to before.



Photo Credit Rand Russell


Performing at the Cogges Manor Farm Farmers Market in Witney was very fun, as I have never been to Witney before and I explored and discovered a new part of the country which was fun. Also, it was fun touring the Market after the performance, however whilst we were performing the weather turned, which meant there was a massive downpour of Rain.

Finally Performing at Common People Music Festival last year was fun this was because I have never been to a Music Festival before and it was nice to perform thrice over the course of both days, and it was nice to see one of my favourite bands live, which was Boney M. Also, it was nice to get in for free as we all got free wristbands, which we had to wear for the whole weekend as to show that we were performers. Finally, it was also nice to go whilst I still had the opportunity as it was the last year last year, as it now closed, as Common People have now gone Bankrupt.


YHV and HV perform at the Common People festival

Handy Voices Overall:

Overall, I love Handy Voices as it has had a positive impact on my life as I have l have had a chance to learn a new skill, and I have boosted up my Confidence to perform at various locations without feeling very nervous, and has allowed me to flourish as a person over the past year. I am also very thankful to Christine to allow me to join Handy Voices, which personally to me was a very valuable opportunity off a Lifetime, and I got to meet more wonderful people in my life.

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