Click on a flyer to find out more...
If you would like to attend a workshop or choir, you will first need to register with Tonic.
Please Contact Us to book a registration slot. See the Term Dates flyer for our registration timeslots.
What We Do
We run many free workshops and groups, including vocals, guitar, bass, art & craft, creative writing and performance anxiety.
Tonic runs two choirs – the Tonic Ska Choir and the Tonic Punk Choir. The choirs regularly perform at gigs, festivals, rallies and events.
All of these free services provide a safe environment for people to learn new skills, build self-esteem, make new friends and build a support network.
We also offer one-to-one tuition for a small donation, and collaborate with the NHS and local authorities to provide music workshops across the UK. We support people both within and outside of mental healthcare services.
We help people to build their resilience, self-worth and confidence through positive risk-taking, accomplishment and artistic expression.
We raise awareness, run campaigns and promote our cause at fundraisers, festivals and arts-based events. We also perform at these events to showcase the work that we do, giving our Tonic community the opportunity to perform in a safe and supportive environment. Much of our outreach work is done in association with artists, bands, venues and event organisers. We have established an excellent reputation within the music industry.
We provide information, advice and support, often working in partnership with other services such as the NHS. Tonic users are always welcome into the shop for a hot drink and a chat. Where we cannot provide direct support, we offer signposting to the appropriate services.
We sell Tonic branded merchandise to raise awareness, promote our cause and generate income.
We provide stands at events to give information, advice and informal support to venues, artists and attendees. We do this under the banner of our Never Mind the Stigma campaign. Our presence at these events helps to increase awareness, encourage discussion and reduce stigma. These stands also raise funds and sell merchandise – we have always excelled at raising funds through grassroots activity.
We offer volunteering opportunities, both in-house and at events, providing people with transferable skills that can help them find employment. We also offer student placements.
We give free event tickets to Tonic users and provide the support needed to help those isolated by mental illness to attend events and connect with their community.
We support people to produce music by providing access to recording sessions. We also donate instruments to those in need.
We participate in music industry discussions about the relationship between music and mental health. We provide education and training at events, conferences and seminars.
We undertake research to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tonic project and improve our services. Our methodology is supported by mental health practitioners and academics.
All of our activity is designed and run from the perspective of both service givers and service users, and so is considerate of the needs of everyone involved.
Festivals & Events
Bands, Musicians & DJs
Terry Hall (Patron)
"Communication is the big one. That’s why events like Tonic are so good. Anything that gives you a voice can be really good. Music is such a basic thing — you don’t really need to be able to play anything. A tambourine can sometimes help."
Terry Hall is lead singer of The Specials.
Barry Ashworth (Patron)
"I think anything that brings mental health to the fore, makes people more aware, and opens up a discussion has got to be a good thing. Tonic is a great project"
Barry Ashworth founded electronic music group Dub Pistols in 1996.
Vinny Peculiar (Trustee)
"The Tonic workshops have proved inspirational. Seeing people come together to create and connect as musicians, poets and artists has such a strikingly positive effect on their mental wellbeing. I have felt privileged to be a part of the process."
Vinny Peculiar is a musician, singer-songwriter, poet, music workshop facilitator and Tonic trustee. He is formerly a mental health nurse.
“Before I was involved in Tonic I was lost in a world of drug addiction, living a life I believed I should be living rather than being true to myself. Now free from active addiction, I love nothing more than sharing my struggles with mental health and addiction, and Tonic has been there from the beginning. I’ve gone from someone who was close to passing out with nerves at the first Tonic Ska Choir rehearsals to now confidently performing in front of hundreds. I also proudly talk about Tonic at various fundraising events.“
“Music is such an important part in someone’s rehabilitation. I’ve been in a hospital ward where if it hadn’t been for a beaten up acoustic guitar with 3 strings, I probably wouldn’t still be here.
"Unfortunately, music isn’t one of those things that can be prescribed on the NHS. It can’t be. They will prescribe therapies and drugs which are fantastic in their place but as a recovery tool and occupational therapy music really should be up there. It's about having the validation that music can be a useful tool in rehabilitation because I’ve said it before, I’ve been in a state where I’ve been quite poorly but there has been a beaten up guitar that you can just pick up and go somewhere on your own and play music.
"If you're musically minded it can be fantastic. But even if you’re not musically minded just taking the time to try and learn something or just making a sound. You can be as angry as you like with a musical instrument, no one cares."
Rob Coache is singer/songwriter and guitarist for The High Wire Act.
"I found out about Tonic at the Portsmouth International Kite Festival where they were hosting a stall to raise awareness about mental health and the groups and activities they have to offer. It couldn't have come along at a better time in my life for me!
"I had just completed a drug and alcohol rehab and have suffered from anxiety, bouts of depression, and a lot of self-doubt over the past 20 years. Steph and everyone running the stall were so friendly, comforting, and welcoming, and it put me at ease, so I started to ask some questions.
"This combined with a love of all types of music and art has proven to be a truly winning combination for me the past year. I started to attend the art and then later music groups and found them to be very fun, but most importantly great for my self worth.
"I have met some amazing people at these groups and made some strong friendships with people who can understand some of the feelings I get. It feels like an extended family to me. The groups were thoroughly enjoyable and we have created some outstanding art and music together which I believe has a truly positive effect on the way I think and feel.
"Tonic has given me an outlet to talk about my problems with people I can trust, and any advice I have received has always been a great help. I get as much help from Tonic as I have done from any other service I have engaged with and in many cases more so.
"I feel that my personal development has vastly improved with the confidence they have helped to rebuild in me. They have massively helped me build a road to a ‘normal’ and successful life, and I feel privileged to be a part of it."
"I think it’s a really good idea to use music as a way to help people with mental health problems 'cause I know people who have suffered with mental health problems and love music so the two different aspects are really close to me."
"To me Tonic is about inclusion and embracing everybody that comes to the workshops and the gigs. It doesn’t matter if you turn up and can create something amazing and can create amazing music. It's about coming and being there and being with the people."
"I have been involved with Tonic for the last four years as my son who is both dyspraxic and suffering from mild depression was invited to a music workshop by the charity. Through music he has found a healthy channel for his frustrations and difficulties and was able to develop his music skills increasing his self esteem and self confidence.
"I am convinced that music and the role he has played as a helper and fundraiser for Tonic has reduced drastically his need for treatment and medical intervention. He is now going to university to study music and is considering using the skills that Tonic has developed to train as a musical therapist."