In April 2017, Music in Detention delivered a Community Exchange project with a series of 12 participatory music-making workshops for detainees at Campsfield House IRC and participants fromThe Mill, Oxfordshire MIND’s day centre for adults who have experienced mental health problems.
Sophia Ripley, from Bedford Music In Detention and Oliver Seager from Music for Change facilitated the workshops, bringing their respective skills in singing, song writing, rap, spoken word and production, to the project. Sophia and Oliver would spend the afternoon at the The Mill working with service users there before going on to the IRC in the evening, to work with the detainees. Musical and lyrical material produced at each location was taken between the two groups by the artists, allowing participants to share messages of compassion and gratitude, lyrics and beats without ever meeting face to face.
The diversity of musical styles and depth of spoken word pieces created many inspiring songs sung and spoken in different languages over a variety of musical genres. One participant from The Mill shared her experience of being a refugee as a child which moved all of the detainees and really helped to open the dialogue between the groups and increase the level of emotional expression. Both groups expressed lyrics on themes such as hope, freedom, love, never giving up, anger, frustration and sadness tand were able to empathise with the different situations they found themselves in.
The project has encouraged and inspired participants from both groups to continue creating with lyrics and music. Many of the songs were performed live by participants at The Mill to an audience of family and friends. This performance was covered by The Oxford Mail which helped spread the word about this fantastic project.