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Music in Detention: musical inclusion and integration in Hillingdon

#RefugeesContribute was the Refugee Week hashtag for the 2015 celebrations; a powerfully positive message set against a backdrop of tension and debate about immigration. The #RefugeesContribute sentiment – that people who travel to the UK seeking a better life enrich our communities and have much to offer, despite facing profound challenges – is brought to life by song, beats and spoken word created by participants of projects run by Music in Detention. The track below features refugees, asylum seekers and immigration detainees from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre and Hayes YMCA, and Hillingdon young people, created alongside artists Oliver Seager & Yiannis Zaronis:

The project that the track is taken from is the subject of a new report commissioned by the Sound Connections Challenging Circumstances Music Network (CCMN). CCMN exists to support and develop music-making opportunities for young Londoners facing challenging circumstances. One aspect of CCMN activity is action research and evaluation that shines the light on best practice, makes recommendations about how to extend its benefits, and informs Sound Connections’ training and advocacy work.

The report presents the Music in Detention (MID) model of working across two settings, connecting two communities who are otherwise unlikely to engage with one another, and working with participants who are otherwise unlikely to have access to music-making activities.

“Music in Detention believes that working through music can give immigration detainees a powerful way to voice their feelings, concerns and hopes. We also believe that music can help break down barriers of prejudice about immigration and asylum, so we work with communities local to detention centres to create music in response to detainees and their stories.”

The evaluation presented the opportunity to:

  • Capture, learn from and share MID’s model of a musical exchange across two marginalised and disadvantaged communities, where little or no other music provision exists.
  • Capture, learn from and share MID’s music leadership approach.
  • Explore the world of music-making in detention centres and with immigrants to inform Sound Connections’ support of this area of the sector.
  • Develop a new connection with Hillingdon Music Education Hub, and look at Music in Detention’s inclusive practice as a model for how to reach young people in the borough who otherwise struggle to engage with music provision.

Whilst the report is a detailed evaluation of one particular project it captures issues, considerations and learning points that are relevant to the wider sector, including:

  • The power of music to develop social cohesion and understanding between different communities, and address potentially tense or provocative topics through musical interaction.
  • Music leadership approaches and characteristics, particularly relating to inclusive practice and sensitivity to profound needs in extreme settings such as a detention centre.
  • Providing new access points to participation in music at grassroots level, and the benefits of projects run in partnership with non-music specialist grassroots/community-based organisations.
  • Enabling and creating new musical progression routes.

These themes appear throughout the report and recommendations, through an evaluative structure that covers a great range of aims and outcomes, and recounts some poignant and powerful personal stories. With recommendations divided into three categories – concept & strategy; planning & project management; and delivery & music leadership – we hope there’s something of relevance across the sector, from music leaders to decision makers.

We encourage you to explore the report, its recommendations, and of course the music, and Tweet your thoughts to @MIDdetention @SConnections #RefugeesContribute

Click here to read the report >


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