A CHARITY committed to helping get more young women into music is celebrating after moving into a new base in a former rundown office block.

Oxford’s Young Women’s Music Project held a party last night to show off its new home at Makespace in north Oxford.

The group, which was set up in 2000, provides a platform for girls and young women aged between 14-21 and of all backgrounds, to make music from soul and r’n’b to rock.

For the previous two and a half years, the charity had been running workshops out of a storage cupboard at the East Oxford Community Centre, but with the future of the venue unclear, the project needed a new, larger, space – and held a crowdfunding appeal to raise funds to pay for a new home at the newly converted community hub in Aristotle Lane.

The group raised about £15,000 – much of it from an anonymous well-wisher – which paid for the refurbishment of studio space and rent.

To celebrate, supporters were invited to inspect the new base, which has been decorated and fitted out by the young women themselves - some of whom are skilled carpenters and craftswomen. 

Guests tucked into cake and soft drinks and were treated to a performance by critically-acclaimed cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

Project director Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani said: “This is a safe space for young women and vulnerable young people who now have somewhere to come and create and make music. But it’s not just about music; it also gives them a place to freely discuss things going on in their lives.

“It’s a safety net to come and be noisy and find out who they are.”

She said she was delighted to have raised the funds to move in after a series of rejections and broken promises by organisations and councillors, saying: “It has been a long road, but we are really happy to have this adaptable space in which we can move around. We tried every avenue but had doors slammed in our face. One donor, however, gave a substantial amount.”

The identity of the mystery supporter, believed to live locally, has not been revealed.

While the building is available only for two years she is confident the group will be able to find a new home along with the other creative organisations and companies using the space.

She said: “This gives us valuable breathing space.”

The Makespace hub is home to a range of community groups and social enterprises including artists, designers, a potter, weaver and textile worker.

Emma Gordon of Transition by Design is a coordinator for the project. She said: “It has been good to see this happen. The Young Women’s Music Project add a great flavour to the mix here.”