Career Connect

As part of our series commemorating the conclusion of our Achieve CFO3 contract, we’re looking back on some of the ways we've helped people to move forward with their lives. In October 2023, Achieve piloted Music Minds, a new course in music development, production and performance, with participants at HMP Wymott.

Funded through the CFO3 Development Fund and delivered by Creativity Works, this week-long course was offered to residents of PIPE Wing at HMP Wymott – an environment for individuals with complex needs and personality disorders.

Participants had access to a range of activities, including music production, lyric writing, performance, and research and development of musical scores to produce their own music, supported by music development and instrument workshops.  The course helped individuals to develop skills, engage with other prison provisions, and with community services on release.

An image of musical instruments, including a keyboard, drum and guitar for the Music Minds Achieve CFO3 project.

As well as the opportunity to experience positive, enjoyable activities whilst learning transferable skills, there is evidence that music – particularly live music – can contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing.  Everyone completing the course received a Level 1 Award in Exploring Occupational Studies, while also gaining valuable experience of collaboration and team-working skills as they worked towards development of a live performance on the final day of the course.

The participant group, who named themselves The Keys and Bars Collective, performed original songs and music in front of a live studio audience that included senior prison leads, CFO staff and Achieve Managing Director Chris Bennett.

Feedback received from participants suggests they all enjoyed the course, engaged well and worked hard towards the live performance.

Achieve Team Manager Ant Bigley (who also took part in the performance) said: “I am very proud of The Keys and Bars Collective for producing such a memorable show and creating such thought-provoking pieces. The positive reaction from course participants is testament to the hard work of everyone involved.”

Since the initial course, HMP Wymott has run further Music Minds courses, including a Christmas production that brought together participants of the various courses to showcase and perform their work.  The initiative has also led to the recruitment of other music mentors who support newcomers, and they are now a recognised and respected support mechanism within the prison community.

The Keys and Bars Collective continues to meet weekly for sessions and their songwriting repertoire continues to grow, with potential plans to record their work during 2024.

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