On Tuesday 18th March, CAMEO returned to Bedford Prison to lead a workshop and create a performance with residents, as part of their community week.
The idea behind the community week was to enable residents to get involved with different types of community, which they might not previously experienced and being part of a community choir, was one of these opportunities.
The residents learnt a number of songs, including ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Let It Be’ in the morning workshop session and performed them alongside Cambridge University students at a performance in the afternoon. The impact on both residents and students was really apparent and there is hope that CAMEO will return to develop this work further in the near future.
‘It’s been really good fun, but more importantly than that, it’s brought people together, prisoners and staff. And it’s also helped some of the prisoners who’ve been through a really difficult time. I can think of one in particular, who took part in the choir workshop on Tuesday and he said to me at the end that he felt so different, he felt lifted, he felt supported, and he felt that there was a little bit of light and joy in his life. So if we can do that for just a few people, then it’s all worth it.’
Sharon Grenham-Toze, Chaplain at Bedford Prison
‘You were all utterly amazing. Deeply impressed with your talent and commitment and adaptability and intelligence - emotional, social and musical. Just been writing my reflections on the day and a big part of it was how seamlessly you all (but especially the conductors/trainers) encouraged and trained the men using some technical musical terms but also translating them, always encouraging them, but adapting to new techniques to guide them where they weren't getting it, or dropping things that weren't working brilliantly without ever having to bring any failures to the fore.
And, of course, a stunning performance. Thanks for letting me be part of it.’
Dr .Ruth Armstrong - Workshop leader and Research Associate at Institute of Criminology
“The choir came at Christmas, it was excellent. The whole atmosphere was tremendous, which encouraged me to volunteer today. I wouldn’t class myself as a singer and this has exceeded all my expectations, joining in with the harmonies...I never thought I’d be able to contribute to a choir. I have exposed myself to something I never thought I could do, which shows you can try something difficult and enjoy it.”
HMP Bedford Resident
“Singing like this is a release. It has made me feel emotional. I was nervous at first but that’s gone. I like singing. Now I’d give it a go, if I saw an opportunity like this on the outside.”
HMP Bedford Resident
'Absolute pleasure to be involved, thanks for all the organising...bring on next time'
Jon, Workshop Leader / Music Student
'Genuinely one of the best experiences I've had in my time in Cambridge. Raring to go for the next one!'
Giverny, Workshop Leader / Music Student
'Thanks so much for organising everything, definitely up for doing it again, favourite day of 2014 so far!'
Rory, Workshop Leader / Music Student