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  • Writer's pictureJames Burton

The Singer Inside Send

The latest Singer Inside project came to an end on Friday 17 January in Send women’s prison, Guildford. By far our most successful prison project to date with 12 prisoners joining the course and with 8 graduating in the final concert.

The Singer Inside is a 3-month music project teaching prisoners how to play the guitar and write songs. Funded with a grant from the Big Lottery and with support from the charity Miracles.

James Burton, Miracles Project Director, initiated and devised the project and partnered with three of London’s finest singer songwriters to deliver the project, Lorraine Wood, Gabriele Moreno and Adam Beattie. Guitars were donated by Billy Brags Jail Guitar Doors charity as well as friends of Miracles.

The Singer Inside is a creative intervention that helps to reduce the number of prisoners self-isolating, self-harming and falling into depression. It increases the number of prisoners having access to activities that improve their skill levels, their confidence, their self-esteem, their support networks and friendships - all contributing to their long term rehabilitation.

What made this project so successful? A combination of the prisoner’s commitment to learning, the quality of their lyrics and poetry, their willingness to take risks and share their work, their tenacity to face difficulties and overcome them and so much more. It was an inspiration for us all and a real pleasure to work with them.

In addition, the staff at the prison were exceptionally accommodating making us welcome from the start and going out of their way to ensure everything ran smoothly – a huge shout out to them all, especially Sunita, the head of Reducing Reoffending.

Below is a poem written by one of the prisoners and read out at the final concert (held in the workshop and attended by around 30 prisoners plus the Send Governor- she loved it). It is an ‘ABC’ poem – a great mechanism for forcing the creative process by having to adhere to a strict structure – it can, perversely, help to free the thoughts. We loved this not just because it sang our praises (thank you J) but because it laid out exactly what we hoped to achieve.

I will be publishing more of their work over the coming weeks – if you have any feedback, good or bad, do let me know.

Thank you to all the students who took part – we wish you every success in your continued quest for freedom – love from us all at the Singer Inside. James Burton

The Singer Inside

Adams lyrics take me on a journey

Bringing tears to my eyes

Calming, like the softness in his voice I die inside

Day dreaming of home and a past life.

Every Friday, we've been gifted The Singer Inside.

Gabriel an angel,

Harmoniously linking us with his songs of love.

I’m in awe of James, his warmth, a gentle man who’s comfortable to shed tears before us,

Kindness personified.

Lorraine’s haunting voice, such vulnerability, a song bird

Mesmerising and inspiring

Narrating lost love.

Our enthusiasm building, obstacles now lifting, from

Practicing to playing, mental health improving as this

Quartet bring back that Friday feeling, like a

Rhapsody of colour we all

Sing together,

Talking away the mundane,

Undoing the pain, as a

Void is fading, the

Warmth is returning, as my heart restarts….

Xenophobia dissipating,

Yielding growth and a

Zest for all that is, life.

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1 commentaire

26 août 2021

I'd like to say James, Lorriane, Adam and of course the shrinking violent that is Gabriel. Thank you so much for the opportunity you gave me to process loss though music. While I was in prison. It really was an experience that will remain with me. Inspiring! I'm still playing that guitar and improving. So humbled that you added my homage to 'The Singer Inside' to your blog. I'm free now if you ever want a fifth member?

Hey lil Bonsai tree... Namaste.


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