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Post-16Secondary / KS3 and KS4

Links Studios: Catch22’s (not so) hidden gem in East London

A man operates recording studio software, whilst a young person records audio within a sound booth.

Joel Lees, Studio Manager and Music Teacher, takes us behind the scenes of Links Studios: a dedicated recording studio and media teaching room for young people.

It still baffles me to think that Community Links has a purpose-built recording studio on its grounds. I’ve been managing that studio for 10 months now and I’m absolutely loving it!

Links Studios opened its doors a little over a year ago, thanks to the incredible generosity of one of the biggest rock bands in history, The Rolling Stones. Most people within Catch22 and in our local area have an idea of what Links Studios is, or at least have heard the name floated around in conversations. But it’s nice for me to take this opportunity to give you an insight into what goes on behind those soundproofed walls.

Recording studio for local young people

Links Studios is a fully functioning recording studio, purpose-built for young people to give them a safe space to learn and grow through creativity. Here, 11-19-year-olds can learn how to produce and record digital music, take part in rehearsals to enhance their live performance skills, and learn about creating and recording podcasts.

All our sessions are delivered to a professional music industry standard but are presented to our service users by facilitators who have decades of youth work experience behind them. This balance exists to ensure that we can aid the development of our young people both personally and creatively.

A tailored offer

What sets us apart from other music industry or youth sector facilities is our Youth Support and Development Officer, Amanda Brown. Through Amanda, we can tailor our youth offer and mould it around the individualised needs of each young person. This, coupled with our ongoing creative offer, gives our young people the ability to enhance their well-being through the work that they complete with us.

It also allows us as a team to continue to discover, and try to break down, the barriers that are stopping our talented young people from thriving in life as they always should. Massive appreciation goes out to Amanda for all her work so far. Both us as an organisation and the young people whom she supports are blessed to have her around!

Developing young leaders of the future

I must also take this moment to express how incredible it is for someone in my position to have a facility like Links Studios at my fingertips, and what it means to be backed by such a powerful and understanding charity. This work gets harder and harder but with that, it gets more rewarding. It has become increasingly difficult for people in my profession to be offered the tools and support that we need to be able to continuously and consistently affect the lives of the people that we serve.

To be able to offer Links Studios to young people in London is an honour for me. This amazing space enhances the work that we do and allows us to work towards developing these already incredible young people into the young leaders of the future.

Getting involved

Young people can sign up for our services by filling out our registration form with a parent or guardian. Once this form is filled out, we invite them for a tour of our facilities and then book them into one of our Thursday or Friday evening sessions via WhatsApp. Feel free to pass the link on to anyone who may need our support. Though we mainly serve the local area, we have had young people from as far as Southend attend our sessions. We strive to work with and help as many young people as possible.

– Joel Lees, Links Studios Manager