Sounding Out funded for 3.5 years by Big Lottery Fund & Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

We’re delighted to announce some very significant funding news for our Sounding Out ‘through-the-gate’ programme; the Big Lottery Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation have kindly agreed to support the programme for three and a half years. This funding commitment is a fantastic endorsement of our work and importantly will allow us to scale-up our delivery.

Big Lottery Fund will provide £270,000 over the period, representing the largest grant in our twenty year history, and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation will provide £90,000 over the same period towards the community-based aspect of the programme. Big Lottery Fund is also providing £15,000 from their Building Capacities funding stream to allow us to invest in developing infrastructure and staff training.

About Sounding Out

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The transition from the prison regime to resettling in the community can be fraught; Sounding Out is a ‘through-the-gate’ programme designed to support ex-prisoners by offering a positive two-year period of engagement on release which helps participants to overcome barriers, build resilience and take the next steps towards engaging in relevant training and securing employment – providing the tools to begin rebuilding their lives beyond the prison gates.

This new funding will allow us to embed our work in three prisons with a Musician in Residence and twice-yearly intensive creative projects, from which we will recruit participants on release and work with them in the community for two years.

“[He] completed 18 months on license from prison and there was no contact with police during this time or any intelligence linking him to criminal activity. This is a significant period for [him] and I honestly believe his involvement in Sounding Out was the principal reason.” Sounding Out pilot participant’s Probation Officer

Overall, during the funding period we expect to work with around 720 participants inside prisons, with 20 ex-prisoners over two cohorts taking part in the full two-year community programme. Further sign-posting to suitable progression routes will be offered to all our participants.

The community aspect of the programme will consist of creative opportunities and bespoke training, including placements to assist our project team in delivering our Making Tracks projects with young people.


Sounding Out evaluationEvaluation of the pilot Sounding Out cohort found that the programme had an important impact on aiding the resettlement of participants, concluding that for every £1 invested in the programme, there was a social return on investment of £4.85. The evaluation is available to read in full here.

“She has turned her life around. She obtained accommodation…she found a school place for her daughter…her participation in Sounding Out cannot be undervalued.” Sounding Out pilot participant’s Probation Officer

The impact of our prison work was explored by the Institute of Criminology, University of the Cambridge, in the ‘Beats and Bars’ evaluation; key findings included a reduction in adjudications both during and after the project, an increase in confidence to participate in other educational programmes as well as confirmation that Music in Prisons projects can play a role in fulfilling the NOMS ‘Seven Pathways to Reducing Re-offending’. You can read the full evaluation here.

“What I took from your course was a large cup of hope, some restoration of self-belief, an injection of confidence, and I feel immense pride. Feelings of which have been absent for some time.”  Music in Prisons participant

Sounding Out pilot programme

The pilot cohort of Sounding Out participants achieved some wonderful things, including performing at the Southbank Centre, St Marylebone Church and Bush Hall in large-scale performances alongside Mark-Anthony Turnage, the Neil Cowley Trio and Police Dog Hogan; they appeared at conferences and events such as Sharing Good Vibrations, Clinks’ AGM, Koestler Trust’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations, and for the Hardman Trust in HMP Brixton; they have supported Making Tracks projects and one participant was made a BBC Performing Arts Fund fellow.

Below is a video of them in action at the Royal Festival Hall;


Notes to editors – Big Lottery Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

hi_big_e_lrg_blue-2Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

EF_logo_4colEsmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK.  We make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. We also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.

We are hugely grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for this exciting opportunity to deliver work on this scale and can’t wait to get started.

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