Last week we said good-bye to Siân Henderson, who is moving on from the Personal Development Coordinator role to work with Synergy Theatre. Before she went, we made sure to sit down with her over a nice cup of tea to talk about her time at ITT.
Was working for ITT as you expected?
To be honest, I’m not really sure what I expected!! I’ve worked in Engagement and Community work for most of my career but I’d never really done anything like this before. The work that The Irene Taylor Trust do is so vital and I really do feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of it. People who have been involved with the criminal justice system are exactly that- people. And so often the odds are stacked against them, in all kinds of ways, and life can be pretty difficult at times. Offering high quality arts experiences to these individuals, and the follow-on support to rebuild and reshape, is more powerful than I think I ever realised. The opportunities that ITT offer have such a clear and powerful impact on reoffending rates, self-esteem and, on the Making Tracks projects, prevention. The evaluation and feedback speaks for itself but to witness it first hand is pretty mind blowing.
What have been your standout memories from your time at ITT?
Gosh.. that’s a hard one! I think it’s probably each and every one of the relationships I’ve been lucky enough to form. The Personal Development Coordinator role requires a lot of 1:1 work with participants of all ages and from all backgrounds and walks of life. It’s been a genuine joy to get to know people, to see them achieve their goals and overcome challenges and to watch them create some incredible music. Being in the room when the creative magic is happening is awesome, one minute it seems as though there’s just a lot of noise (sorry guys) and the next minute it’s seamlessly merged into a beautiful melody! I mean, my job basically involved chatting to a bunch of really interesting, talented people and listening to some great music- and you can’t argue with that can you?!
Do any projects/ live performances stick in your mind?
I have to say that all the projects and performances I’ve witnessed have been pretty amazing but I loved being a part of alumni event last year. It was wicked to be in a room with lots of project team, trustees, staff and participants and to hear about everyone’s experiences with the Irene Taylor Trust. The amount of people that the trust has touched is humbling and seeing such a broad mix of people working collaboratively to create radio programmes and interviews about ITT was a really joyful (and informative!) experience. Also the buffet was absolutely top notch.
What have been your favourite tracks created on projects?
Hard to choose but I’d say…
Won Over: This Multiplay track has such an old school, smooth sound and really gorgeous lyrics. I’ve tried crooning along to this one a couple of times, much to the guys’ horror.
Free Your Mind: This song was created by some of our Sounding Out guys and students from the PACE course at Guildhall. We recorded it at The Premises and I was lucky enough to sit at the mixing desk and watch the magic unfold. All the guys sound so professional on it and I just think it’s an absolute banger. A proper summer tune.
We don’t have the recordings through yet, but the tracks created as part of our recent Making Tracks project in Lewisham are amazing. Raydioactive, who wrote and recorded them, is a mega young talent and they’re all just so catchy- I still hum them most days. (Ed. will add when these are up on Soundcloud!)
What have you learned from being part of ITT?
I’ve learnt to be open minded, to never judge a book by its cover and to always approach things with honesty, understanding and humour. I think that’s probably a lesson for life more generally but, there you go!
I’ll tell you something I haven’t learnt… I still haven’t learnt to play an instrument! But there’s always time… right?!
Absolutely, it’s never too late! What advice do you have for your successor?
Learn how to play an instrument, haha! No um… I suppose that you don’t have the know all the answers. Sometimes the best solutions and outcomes come by working with other people to ask questions, to challenge existing structures/ideas and to search for the things that feel right in that moment- trust your instincts.
Anything else you want to say?
That I’m worried I’ve been a bit too deep over this casual cuppa!? … Or that I’ve had the time of my life working for this fabulous organisation full of people that are truly brilliant at what they do. Long may the good ship ITT sail.
Oh – and that everyone should go along to the Sounding Out gig at Rich Mix on 4th July – it’s a fantastic opportunity to support the work and to see the amazing musicians we work with in action. I’ll be the one in the front row singing along (badly).
Thanks for sharing, Siân! See you at Rich Mix!