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Choir sessions held for Lewes inmates
Visiting prisons in a bid to keep offenders on the straight and narrow is all part of the day job for probation and police officers.
But Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust chief executive Nick Smart and PC Graham Thurley had a more musical reason to meet prisoners at Lewes Prison on Monday.
Nick and Graham are members of the Brighton indie pop choir Jam Tarts, whose members held a singing workshop for a group of 12 prisoners at Lewes .
Offenders were taught two songs, which were performed to other prisoners the same evening.
Nick said: “My work has taken me into prisons many, many times over the years but I never thought I’d be singing in one. It was fun and I was also able to see the value of musical projects in prisons.”
Jam Tarts and its sister choir Wham Jam Thank You Ma’am, whose mem- bers were also involved in the workshop, have raised and donated £3,000 to the prison to help support the provision of musical instruments and tuition.
A tutor runs a weekly 12-strong guitar group, aided by a prison officer who used to be a professional guitarist.
The workshop was led by vocal coach Li Mills, who runs both choirs.
She said: “I was invited in to see how our money was being spent, and that’s how the singing workshop came to be suggested.”
Graham, who works alongside probation staff at the Integrated Offender Management unit in Crawley, added: “It was great to have the opportunity to spend time with prisoners informally and integrate them in the choir. I hope this experience will inspire some of them to find a diversion and new interest in singing and music.”
Robin Eldridge, governor of Lewes Prison, said: “Music and the arts are really fantastic ways of encouraging prisoners to engage in positive activity. In many cases these activities actually teach lessons about life, for example how individuals can support others, selflessness and self esteem; they can also act as ‘gateway’ activities which lead to prisoners to tackle the root causes of their offending."
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