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Launch event for Bedford Music In Detention

Launch event for Bedford Music In Detention

1st March 2014

On 31st January we held our launch event for Bedford MID in the Bunyan Meeting, a beautiful church in the centre of Bedford, named after the writer and preacher John Bunyan. The aim of the event was to showcase the amazing work we do in Bedfordshire’s immigration removal centre, Yarl’s Wood, to an audience of local musicians, politicians and community leaders, with a view to getting them involved from the outset in our future programme.

Among the audience of approximately 40 were the Mayor of Bedford and the High Sherriff of Bedfordshire, who enjoyed hearing the voices of detainees, an introduction to the programme from John Speyer, Director of MID, and a performance of musical work written collaboratively by Yarl’s Wood detainees and members of Sight Concern during a recent community exchange project.

Sadly our participants from Sight Concern were unable to be there to perform alongside our regular workshop leaders Shammi and Michael. The row of empty microphones onstage served as a very visual reminder of how important our role is in giving voice to the most isolated and marginalised sections of society.

Another potent and significant symbol was the image of John Bunyan in the stained glass window of the church; he wrote the allegorical novel The Pilgrim’s Progress while imprisoned for his religious beliefs. Terry Waite received a postcard of the window 300 years later, when held hostage in Lebanon, and later said of the image, “It was a sign of hope and an inspiration. It showed people had not forgotten me.” The Bunyan Meeting, then, was the perfect setting for this event – a reminder of the power of the arts to sustain people through periods of incarceration and insecurity.

Musicians Shammi and Michael

Musicians Shammi and Michael

Music In Detention Bedford's Roger Illingworth with Deborah Inskip, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire

Music In Detention Bedford's Roger Illingworth with Deborah Inskip, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire

John Speyer, Director of Music In Detention

John Speyer, Director of Music In Detention