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Good Life

Good Life

In March 2013 a MID community exchange project took place between elderly people and staff at the Oakley Rural Day Centre in Bedford and detainees at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. Over the course of just over a week, Shammi and Michael from Asian Music Circuit facilitated workshops at both places that allowed a dialogue to form between the groups. This dialogue developed into creative and collaborative music-making. At the end of the project the songs they had made together and for each other were put on a CD, ‘Good Life’, a memento of their joint experience.

The themes that arose during the project emphasised ideas of ‘home’, ‘family’ and ‘belonging’. At the beginning of the project some of the elderly people had little to no knowledge of the kinds of people detained at Yarl’s Wood, but as they discussed these themes and made contact with detainees they realised they actually had a lot in common. The women in particular at the Oakley Rural Day Centre felt sympathy towards younger women at Yarl’s Wood who had been separated from their children. Many of the elderly people felt very isolated and lonely outside of the day centre, something detainees had a lot of experience of inside Yarl’s Wood.

The detainees at Yarl’s Wood were pleased to be able to connect with people outside of the walls of the detention centre. The songs they wrote were about the unpredictability of life, and how good things can sometimes come out of bad situations, like making a close friend in detention. The elderly people developed a good grasp of the immediate issues that might come out of being detained, and wrote uplifting songs for the detainees that aimed to bring support and positivity to their day.

By the end of the project, the elderly people had shown an enthusiastic interest in understanding the lives of detainees, and the detainees were glad to make contact with a new group of people. Shammi and Michael from Asian Music Circuit said, “Throughout the project there was a clear sense of communication between Oakley and Yarl’s Wood, reflected by the music and lyrics that were created. The lyrical content of the project always felt honest and heartfelt.”

To listen to tracks from the album, please visit our Music section and click on Bedford/Yarl's Wood IRC.