AFTER a difficult couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a not-for-profit social enterprise is focused on its future.

Core Music's Mike Coleman said they are trying to come up with different ways to enable them to recover and keep going.

Mike said: "It's been very difficult with the Covid situation and it still is, but we're trying to come up with different ways of dealing with that and keeping going.

"Keeping going is really important and we're desperate to make sure we can do that.

"It's not about going back to where we were before, it's about how we move on to the future."

They have recently refurbished their shop on Gilesgate in Hexham, which has opened up its space.

Its ground floor was previously split into four rooms.

"It felt really small," said Mike."But by taking the two walls out, it's just made the space fantastic. We're almost surprised at how much space it has created and we're now thinking it can be used for more than just a shop."

For example, last weekend, they ran a Learn to Play Day event in the space.

"The whole place was buzzing," said Paul Susans, who also works at Core Music.

"It felt really lively after a couple years of not being lively at all."

This summer Core Music co-ordinated a programme of free performances which were held at the bandstand in Sele Park.

The initiative was funded by Hexham Town Council.

"We're very pleased with how that went," said Mike. "I think that's been another way that we've been able to maintain our profile in the town and explain to people what we do."

Paul added: "I was really pleasantly surprised by how many people came down."

Future projects for Core Music include a new studio space.

"During the lockdown we got a grant from the Social Enterprise Support Fund to buy some studio equipment, which we've set up in one of our rooms upstairs," said Mike.

Paul continued: "We're looking at in terms of getting people in and enabling people to upskill. It will give people the opportunity to improve their skills and actually learn how to use that equipment."

Core Music's main focus is on making music accessible for all.

"We do recognise that sometimes accessing music generally can be expensive, so we're looking at different ways in which we can support people's access to music and make it more affordable," said Mike.

"Music really can change lives."

Examples include their Instrument Amnesty scheme, where they take in donations of instruments from people who no longer use them. Core Music then refurbish them, and either use them as loan instruments, or for hire, or can sell them affordably.

They also joined forces with the Rotary Club of Hexham to launch a bursary scheme to allow Core Music to run free music lessons for people, and Mike said they hope to add to the fund so this offer can keep going.