How a new Hartlepool singing group is helping people who are struggling across town

A community project is launching in Hartlepool next month to help people of all ages find their voice and boost their confidence.

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The Rise Up Project is launching at The Music Spot, in Whitby Street, on Wednesday, February 22, and will run from 6pm until 9pm.

The project was founded by 39-year-old Chris Gray, from Stockton, to help people who suffer from low confidence but also love to sing.

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Chris said: "I wanted to create a group of people like me who love to sing but don’t have the confidence to do it.”

Laura Etheridge and Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.Laura Etheridge and Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
Laura Etheridge and Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.

He added: “It was never designed to go any further really.”

The project, which first launched in Stockton in August 2021, boasts a relaxed, family environment where members can socialise and make lifelong friends.

Chris said: “It’s more than just music. We want to help people in their lives.”

The programme initially runs for eight months but there are a range of options and opportunities for members once they have completed the programme.

Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
Chris Gray from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
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This includes therapy, studio opportunities and chances to perform in The Rise Up Project’s new and upcoming choir.

Chris said: “Our idea is this. It does not just end at the end of the eight months, there will always be somewhere to go at the end.”

He added: "It’s about changing their lives and being on that journey with them.”

Seventeen months ago, Chris wanted to join a choir himself but lacked the confidence he needed to get there.

Laura Etheridge from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.Laura Etheridge from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
Laura Etheridge from The Rise Up Project, in Whitby Street, Hartlepool.
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Since then, he has auditioned for a role in the production of Grease, taking place in Darlington, later this year.

Chris said: “Our project is different. We are taking our members right from the bottom and giving them a safe space, an inclusive space.”

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Laura Etheridge, an experienced vocal coach and graduate of musical theatre, will be running the Hartlepool sessions and is looking forward to what this year will bring.

She said: “I’ve been in that position myself. I’ve lost confidence with things like that and I’ve had to build it back up again.”

For more information on how to join the Rise Up Project, visit https://www.facebook.com/theriseupproject.

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