Songs co-written by detainees at Yarl’s Wood have been heard in public for the first time during the launch of a music project.
Bedford Music In Detention (MID) was unveiled on Friday at the Bunyan Meeting in Mill Street where among guests in the audience were Mayor Dave Hodgson and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Deborah Inskip.
The songs were co-written by the detainees at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) with visually impaired members of Sight Concern Bedford during successful workshops held in January.
Professional musicians led separate sessions with each group helping them write and produce songs about their distinctive life experiences.
The groups then swapped music and lyrics with each other.
Roger Illingworth, Bedford MID Programme Co-ordinator, said: “These two groups have never met, but have produced words and songs that explore the common ground they share.
“Mostly feelings of isolation, notions of home and the need for connection. Some of them had never even sung before. The results are remarkable.”
He added: “Detainees feel empowered as their words and songs are heard by neighbours they cannot meet. At the same time, Sight Concern’s visually impaired service users are able to creatively express their own stories, thoughts and emotions through music, often for the first time.
“These extraordinary musical compositions were aired to celebrate the launch of an exciting new partnership between voluntary, community and arts organisations in Bedford and national charity Music In Detention (MID).
“The new venture will run participatory music workshops. These bring together immigration detainees with professional musicians and local communities to share, create and enjoy music.
“The partnership aims to enable the often-ignored voices of society to be heard in new ways through music.”
Bedford MID is looking for local musicians, schools and community projects to get involved in similar projects.
If you can help contact Bedford MID Programme co-ordinator Roger Illingworth at firstname.lastname@example.org