What we do

Creating Music. Transforming Futures.

We believe that creating original music collaboratively can make a powerful impact on people’s lives, bringing them new confidence, important transferable social skills and raised aspirations for the future. Music can break down barriers and help people who have found themselves pushed to the fringes of society to become celebrated and valued members at the heart of the community. Our projects light a spark that can be the catalyst in supporting people to change their lives for the better.

Music in Prisons can help to break the vicious circle of offending, imprisonment, release and re-offending resulting in return to prison, so we must ensure that we provide the resources to enable it to reach more and more inmates,” Lord Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice 

Established in 1995 in memory of Irene Taylor, wife of the late Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor (read more about how we formed), we work with some of the most vulnerable and excluded individuals in our society, inspiring them through the creation of new music. Our projects support NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) young people, ex-prisoners rebuilding their lives on release and people of all ages in prisons. The individuals we work with are some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised in society, having faced a range of issues, such as abuse, violence, substance misuse, mental health problems, exclusion from school and homelessness. We hope to help participants see beyond these negative experiences to a more positive future.

“You’re in a part of your life which is so negative, and then this project lets you get a positive experience out of a negative one,” Prison Project Participant

How we make a difference

Independent evaluation 

The “Beats and Bars” evaluation (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge) found that the positive outcomes of our prison projects included increased self-confidence, social skills and motivation to learn – providing a vital catalyst to help people with negative experiences of formal education to engage in further educational and training opportunities with a new found knowledge that they are capable of achieving when they persevere (read more about our evaluations).

so-eval-coverAn evaluation of the Sounding Out ex-prisoner programme pilot suggested that for every £1 spent, there was a social return on investment of £4.85 and found that providing meaningful activity on release could have a significant positive impact on ex-prisoners:

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

Our Theory of Change

Royal Society for Public Health Award WinnerOur Track Record

We have a rich track record of delivering high quality work, from winning awards such as the RSPH (Royal Society of Public Health) Arts & Health Award, recognising “long-standing, wide-ranging and innovative contributions to the field of arts and health in criminal justice, with the potential for public health impacts”, to being commissioned annually by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2013; find out more here!

In their own words

Read about our participants’ experiences of being involved in our projects in their own words.

Our Programmes

Find out more about our three core programmes by clicking on the pictures below:


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