On Monday I went to visit Phil Fox, Artistic Director of The Outside Edge Theatre Company. The reason for the visit was the Memories in Music Fanfare Group. With our donations this year, we Jimmy Page fans will be supporting Outside Edge in Jimmy’s honour. As well as the group sessions and the drama productions, they also do one-on-one counselling. They strive to provide all their services free of charge, which, as you can imagine, takes a lot of effort. He was very grateful for our help, and he told me that Memories in Music’s Fanfare is the first group that has ever approached them for regular funding.
I was really looking forward to my chat with Phil, as he started this company from pretty much zero, just his dream. It’s very inspiring to meet someone who has battled with drug addiction, yet come out the other side and is now using his love of dramatic arts to help others. “Drama saved my life,” he told me. He felt that drama could give other addicts exactly what it gave him. You only have to hear of the people he’s helped and the programmes they run to see that is true. His vision has created the only group of this type in the UK.
This all resonates with me. It was music that saved my life, and like Phil, I wanted to find people who felt the same, in my case music fans, and work together with them to help others. It can sometimes feel like the odds are insurmountable when you start something and it’s small and basically unnoticed, misunderstood, and sometimes even scoffed at. Although they have been working for 11 years, Phil says his group is still fairly obscure. “Having Jimmy as a Patron has really helped raise our profile,” he told me. That’s certainly true – it’s why our Fanfare Group is here!
The offices on Munster Road in Fulham were very nice. It’s a beautiful building full of light. They share the space with another programme. Phil showed me the area where they do the group sessions and then the private meeting rooms for the one-on-one counselling. He explained that there is an emphasis on the addicts being clean when they come to the meetings. “When you come to us to participate, you have to be clean that day,” he said.
The area of Fulham where you come to the offices is a very affluent area. It seemed strange walking past all the lovely shops – I suppose because you think of addicts and automatically think of run-down areas. Phil told me that his experience of being located in that area only shows the choice of substance abused is different, the struggles are the same. In the wealthy neighbourhoods the drug of choice is often alcohol, while the poorer neighbourhoods have crack problems. But, they can all come together at the Outside Edge for some very unique and inspirational help.
It was wonderful to be able to surprise Phil with a Christmas gift, £380 from Jimmy’s fans. I wish you could have seen his reaction. It’s just wonderful to be a real blessing to people. Everyone who gives to Fanfare should go smile at themselves in the mirror and say, “I make a difference.” Because I promise you, even if you only give 50p a week, you DO make a difference.
I spent a nice hour and bit chatting to Phil. I am looking forward to learning more about what they do, especially because my own family was ravaged by drug and alcohol abuse. Besides being a help, I am sure I will learn things that will help me too.
We’re going to meet again in January and discuss a fundraising idea I have to benefit them. It would make me very happy to bring more attention and money to their cause. If you want to find out more, check out the website: http://www.outsidedgetheatre.com/index.html
We’d love to have more music fans supporting the Edge. Contact Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will fill you in on how you can help.