Brook House immigration detention centre and Langley Green Hospital are only a mile or two apart. Until 2019, nobody on the inside of either building had been able to reach out to the other. In January and February 2019, Music In Detention ran a community exchange project between the two.
People in immigration detention, and patients in the hospital communicated over a series of music sessions — they shared dozens of messages and found common experiences, shared love and solidarity, and enjoyed what unites us all: music.
Across seven weeks, four artists from Music for Change facilitated the exchange. The artists leading the project were Oliver Seager, Shammi Pithia, Anna de Mutiis and Yiannis Zaronis from Music for Change. They wrote and recorded songs, and held two performances: one at Brook House, and one at Langley Green that was open to the public.
One of the sentiments shared by detainees and people in hospital was “Don’t let the pressure get you down”. Life can be very hard for people in detention, or spending time in hospital. They often don’t know when they will be released or discharged, or where they will go next.
Reassurance that things will work out lifted the mood and the music gave a sense of unity. Another powerful lyric created was “Silence can be a killer”, a song about speaking about your problems and sharing your worries.
The tracks created are a fusion of hip hop, reggae, folk, dance and electronica. People in detention worked on their song-writing and performance skills, and the project was a celebration of diversity, bringing people together of all ages from all over the world.