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A unique fusion of voices

A unique fusion of voices

In June 2009, MID and music partner Drum Runners organised the first ever joint musical performance by detainees and members of a community group inside an IRC.

Fusion United Voices, a choir based at All Saints Church in Bedford, took part in a community exchange with "The Overcomers", a group of women detained at Yarl's Wood IRC.  At the end of the project, which also involved the young members of Fusion Youth Singing and children detained at Yarl's Wood, the women came together to perform the music they had created.

The project involved the four groups jointly creating or adapting songs as a means of bringing about a human connection between detainees and local residents outside the centre. The groups did not physically meet until the recording was complete, when on 6 June 2009 they performed together and to one another in the Yarl's Wood Visits Hall.

"When we were sent the CD, this was even before we met the women, we were overwhelmed. The sense of pride, achievement and the sense of togetherness with the detainees... A sense of shared space, and hearing we had used some of the same words. It's a huge privilege for us to be involved in this exchange of artistic activity with Yarl's Wood and we know it will give all of us a greater understanding of this institution on our doorstep."

Neslyn Pearson, Fusion United Voices (All Saint's Church, Queen's Park, Bedford)

This phenomenal project resulted in the creation of a choir within Yarl's Wood, raised awareness of the detention system, gave a greater sense of community for all involved and enthusiasm from both groups to work together again in the future. Feedback included this quote from a detainee to our workshop leaders:

"If I don't see you again, I will see you in heaven,"

and this one from a detainee to one of the community group:

"Just knowing that you know we're here makes all the difference".

The Overcomers doing a conga line with staff

The Overcomers doing a conga line with staff

Happily singing together

Happily singing together

Proud performers

Proud performers