Shared moments: Immigration detainees at Campsfield House and participants at Oxford Homeless Pathways.
The CD is the result of a Music In Detention Community Exchange project delivered by Music for Change and facilitated by Daniel James and Zirak Hamad. The artists visited Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre, on the outskirts of Oxford, and the East Oxford Community Centre near Oxford's Cowley Road during February 2012, for six sessions spread over three weeks.
The aim was to increase local people's awareness of Campsfield House IRC and the men detained there, and to share stories, music and culture between the two groups of participants. There were over 100 participants in all and the resulting CD shows a fascinating slice of life inside and outside of the IRC, paying tribute to the vast diversity of cultures around us and the enormous overlap in our life experiences.
At Campsfield House, Zirak's violin and percussion playing quickly gathered a large crowd who were eager to hear, play and dance to traditional songs from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan, India and Pakistan. The microphone provided the focus for a series of performances: songs, stand-up comedy and a moving speech by one of the elders in the group, encouraging people to continue with their music and pointing out that although their countries had different names, they had a lot of shared experience and culture.
The officers at Campsfield House joined in the fun during the sessions and this culminated with a dance-off between a few of the detainees and an officer, much to everyone's excitement! Although the officer made a valiant effort, it was generally agreed that he'd have to go back to Bhangra dancing school if he was ever going to be a serious contender! Some of the singing is captured on the CD, but the dancing you'll have to imagine...
Interviews with the detainees, notably Michael, Ali and Alan, were played to the participants in Oxford to give them a sense of life in the detention centre. Music and lyrics grew from the empathy they felt for each other's situations, including 'WinterSnow' about the difficulties of getting through a harsh winter, and 'Blue Bayou' about chasing your dreams. The participants living in the community were residents in temporary accommodation in Oxford, who were rebuilding their lives with the help and support of staff at Oxford Homeless Pathways. They had many talents (singing, piano playing and writing, to name a few) and got to know and support each other during the project. We hope this project reminded them of their own abilities and will help them look to the future.
Music In Detention works with immigration detainees, bringing them together with professional musicians and local communities to share, create and enjoy music, enabling often-ignored voices to be heard in new ways.
Music for Change is a leading educational arts organisation, committed to promoting awareness, understanding and respect for cultural diversity. Working with skilled artists from around the world, the charity encourages people to celebrate cultural diversity whilst challenging preconceptions and prejudice.
All artwork created by detainees at Campsfield House IRC under the direction of Art teacher Sally Ashton-Bridges, as part of a competition to design the front cover.
Album recorded and produced by Daniel James.
All tracks created by participants from Campsfield House IRC, O'Hanlon House and Julian Housing Participants: Ricardo Baker and Buck
Project partners: Campsfield House IRC, MITIE Justice