The Irene Taylor Trust 'Music in Prisons'
Who we are
Creating Music. Transforming Futures.
Established in 1995 in memory of the wife of the late Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor, The Irene Taylor Trust works with some of the most vulnerable and excluded individuals in our society, inspiring them through the creation of new music to acquire important life skills such as team-working, communication and perseverance, helping them to achieve their potential as valued members of the community.
Our projects support young people in the community, ex-prisoners rebuilding their lives on release, and people of all ages in prisons.
“You’re in a part of your life which is so negative, and then this project lets you get a positive experience out of a negative one,” Prison Project Participant
How we make a difference
The ‘Beats and Bars’ evaluation (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge) found that the positive outcomes of our prison projects included increased self-confidence, social skills and motivation to learn – providing a vital catalyst to help people with negative experiences of formal education to engage in further educational and training opportunities with a new found knowledge that they are capable of achieving.
“Good teamwork can lift you up and together you can accomplish something that’s more than the sum of each individual. I was afraid to fail, was shy and could not open up. I now know that no matter how small my part was, I was part of a team and did matter,” Project Participant
A recent evaluation of our new Sounding Out programme suggested that for every £1 spent, there was a social return on investment of £4.85 and found that providing meaningful activity on release could impact significantly on ex-prisoners:
“He completed 18 months on licence from prison and there was no contact with the police during this time or any intelligence linking him to criminal activity. This is a significant period for him to avoid re-offending and I honestly believe his involvement in [the project] was the principal reason.” Sounding Out Participant’s Probation Officer
In September 2013 we won a RSPH (Royal Society of Public Health) award, recognising “long-standing, wide-ranging and innovative contributions to the field of arts and health in criminal justice, with the potential for public health impacts.”
Since 1995 we have worked with 2,751 participants over 240 projects, with audiences of over 14,000 witnessing the original music they have created.
Making Tracks – targeting young people in Lambeth on the fringes of the criminal justice system; we expand the horizons of NEET (not in education, employment or training) young people through an intensive workshop week culminating in a live performance to the local community, followed up by a series of music sessions over 5 weeks. Working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, the young people receive pastoral support and bespoke guidance to further development opportunities.
“At the beginning of this week I was really shy, I'm a really shy person anyway, but this week has really brought me out of my shell; it's made me so much more confident. I was absolutely buzzing on the night of the gig... I definitely feel like it's helped me a lot." Steph, Making Tracks participant
Sounding Out – working with ex-prisoners who we first met inside, providing further musical training and performance opportunities as well as guidance into other training and paid work placements on Making Tracks, learning project facilitation skills and acting as positive role models who can relate the grim reality of spending time in prison to the young people at risk of doing so.
“Being reformed and having a chance to creatively express myself outside is what’s it’s about for me. I see it as an opportunity to come out and get on with my life but with the music relationships I had inside guiding me. It’s now professional and with an audience!” Sounding Out Participant
Music in Prisons – these inspirational projects bring together groups of prisoners to collaboratively write original songs, form a band, perform live and record an album; all in 5 days. Hard work towards a shared goal, requiring participants to demonstrate dedication, bravery, empathy and respect for one another’s ideas in order to succeed; challenging perspectives of the participants themselves, the prison staff who work with them, and their loved ones on the outside, casting new light on their own capabilities.
“I've never seen a programme have such a deep level impact on an individual in one week as the MiP scheme has achieved. The men are so positive about their experience and their increased self-confidence and sense of opportunity and hope for the future is a credit to the powerful effect of talented musicians, music and Offenders who feel that somebody has really given their time and energy to them and believed in them.” Head of Community, HMP Erlestoke
How you can help
We are only able to deliver this important work with the support of kind individuals. A donation of any size would be greatly appreciated and go towards helping inspire disadvantaged people through the creation of original music, showing them that they are capable of achieving and allowing them to aspire to a more positive future.
“Music in Prisons can help to break the vicious circle of offending, imprisonment, release and re-offending resulting in return to prison, so we must ensure that we provide the resources to enable it to reach more and more inmates.” Lord Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice, patron
You can hear some of the music created on our projects here.
See our work in action on our Youtube page.
Follow us on Twitter @musicinprisons
Find out more, including how to attend project performances in the community and prison, by visiting our website www.irenetaylortrust.com