About the National Foundation for Giving Voice
The Foundation was co-founded by Jill Rakusen and Rachel Healey in 2004, with help from a small grant from UnLtd. The intention was to enable more people to discover how to harness the power of song in day-to-day life – something Jill had discovered and developed, and taught, over the previous decade. Caroline Thorpe soon joined them, and together the three of them run the Foundation, overseen by a Board of Trustees.
The Foundation obtained charitable status in 2011, its focus being an educational role concerning the relationship between music and health and well-being. The Foundation has focussed on various aspects of this relationship where the Giving Voice Process can play a significant role. These include how the process can support physis – the urge for growth, how it can enable us to bring harmony to life, and the key elements involved in how to unlock the power of song. Everything we now do sits under the umbrella term ‘Unlocking the Power of Song’; this is the title of our forthcoming book, and of our new blog and Facebook group.
It was her personal experience of illness and disability that precipitated this, together with her good fortune in encountering Pamela Corin, with whom she embarked on a rigorous training in Awareness. Giving Voice came into being as a result, and it has been in a continual state of development ever since. She lives in awe and gratefulness for what it offers and teaches her – and others.
Jill sees the facilitation of wholeness and connectedness – both in herself and in others – as a major aspect of her life’s purpose. For many years, Giving Voice has been the main means through which she does this. She sees both Giving Voice and her disability as contributing hugely to her overall growth and ‘whole health’. Her spiritual practice includes Giving Voice – which she often does in silence (this is not necessarily a contradiction in terms!) – as well as daily meditation and regular silent Retreats. Jill’s spiritual practice empowers and drives her work as a facilitator. In recent years, Jill has been developing her capacities as a Griot, and, since September 11th 2001, two of her songs have been widely distributed as peace-promoting tools.
A musician, writer and health educator, she has touched thousands of lives through her publications (including the ‘bible’ on women’s health, Our Bodies, Ourselves, the UK editions of which she was co-author), through her teaching and presentations, and through her musical endeavours.
Since she developed Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome back in the 1990s, Jill began to fuse her inspirational talents and expertise around music and health.
Together with her colleagues Rachel has brought Giving Voice to a wide range of people., in a wide range of settings. One approach to Giving Voice that Rachel has forged is a special kind of choir, where the overarching aim was to enable both participants and audiences to experience deep harmony and peace. Having set up and led this Giving Voice choir, Rachel took it to a number of settings, including hospital wards and arts centres. Rachel has also collaborated with a visual artist to offer exhibitions, and she loves to use Giving Voice in ceremonies and celebrations.
Rachel has a Masters degree in Ethnomusicology and a BTech in Indian Music Performance. She trained in Community Music with More Music in Morecambe and with Kirklees Arts and Mental Health. She holds a Mind Millennium Award as a voice practitioner. She wrote a chapter for a book published by More Music in Morecambe on composition, and has had a few articles published about Giving Voice (See bibliography – on website). She’s also a trained mediator, disability advisor and mental health specialist.
Rachel draws on Giving Voice in her own life in many ways: for instance, she uses it to help her manage work, parenting and relationships; to promote her own health and wellbeing; and to find more joy and more love in every day. She offers inspiring insights into how she does this in some of her blogposts and on our website. She also uses it to open her heart and her awareness to the interconnected nature of everything, and to play her part in promoting peace and harmony on a more universal level.
Rachel has been involved in Giving Voice since 1998, which is when she met Jill. She then asked Jill to train her to teach it, eventually becoming an accredited teacher in 2005.
Caroline first came across Jill Rakusen in about 1994 when she was invited by a friend to attend the Sheffield Chanting Group, which Jill was leading. She loved it immediately. Jill’s approach made learning the songs so easy and fun. It seemed to build on the practical joy of singing that she had rediscovered when her children were born. And it seemed to release her fear about ‘getting it wrong’. Gradually her true voice began to be liberated. As Giving Voice developed, she started to go to advanced courses and Residentials, and continued to recognise and develop the relationship between her true self and how she sang.
Caroline loved singing in this way and recognised that Giving Voice was helping her to grow in all sorts of ways. She decided to sign up for the Giving Voice trainee scheme and went on to become an apprentice, qualifying as an accredited GV Teacher in 2008. Unlike Jill and Rachel, Caroline does not have a musical background and one of the things that she loves about Giving Voice is that it is accessible to anyone.
Currently Caroline facilitates Giving Voice for Peace, both in Sheffield and at a distance, as well as offering short courses in Sheffield and Leeds. She brings “energy, enthusiasm and inspiration” to the groups she teaches. She has always loved to sing but didn't find what she was looking for singing in choirs. Singing and training with Jill has enabled her to find and truly connect with the song in her heart. She is a very practical person and has considerable experience of ‘Applied Giving Voice’, using songs both silently and out loud to enable her to be truly effective in how she lives her life and what she is able to offer[put a ‘link’ here?]. She has pioneered a series of events called Building the World EShe lives in Sheffield, where she recently retired from her work as a librarian in a university, supporting IT and library systems.
Along with Jill and Rachel she is currently exploring how to make Giving Voice accessible to people in isolation during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis and supporting Jill in completing her forthcoming book.