The latest prison music workshop, The Singer Inside, launched on Friday 18 October in Send women’s prison.
The workshops, funded by the Big Lottery and supported by the charity, Miracles, and the music company, Upstart Crow, will run for 3 months every Friday afternoon.
The project was conceived and launched by James Burton, Miracles Project Director, and utilises considerable input and support from three of London’s most respected singer song writers – Lorraine Wood, Adam Beattie and Gabriel Moreno. Guitars supplied by Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Door charity as well as friends of the work.
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, friendships and their long term rehabilitation success.
So many prisons in England are struggling to keep running after a decade of funding cuts, staff shortages and overcrowding. This, combined with an increase of drug use among prisoners, has led to a substantial increase in self-harming and incidents of suicide (Ministry of Justice 2017). An increase of depression, isolation and illness, related to cuts and overcrowding, have also risen along with violence and intimidation towards staff and prisoners alike.
In many prisons the cuts have led to a decrease in opportunities for prisoners to get involved in activities that lead to better rehabilitation outcomes - reoffending rates currently stand at 60%. Prisoners languish – they are bored and unmotivated to take personal action that will help ensure they don’t reoffend within their first year of release.
The Singer Inside is first and foremost a self-improvement programme for prisoners, contributing to their long term rehabilitation.
Over the coming weeks I will be writing a brief blog about each workshop in Send prison, the revelations and confirmations, charting our successes and failures, with the aim of highlighting how important a part creative interventions can play in a prisoner’s life.
Week 1 will be published this week – please follow and please respond – questions and observations are very welcome.