Sunday, 26 May 2024
Sunday, 26 May 2024

Changing Tunes: An introduction to our work

CHANGING Tunes is a specialist music-based rehabilitation charity with over 30 years of experience engaging prisoners and ex-prisoners. Our mission was ignited in 1987 when our founder Richard Pendlebury MBE started running music sessions at HMP Bristol.

Richard soon noticed the positive difference this was making, and his personal commitment to social justice and creative equity is enshrined in our work today. Our Musicians-in-Residence currently run long-term, trauma-informed music programmes in 19 prisons in the South West and South of England, the Midlands and South Wales. We support our participants to gain confidence, self-esteem, improved mental health, resilience, agency, healthy relationships, community and access to music and its life-enhancing benefits. This ‘human and social capital’ is shown to support lasting resistance from crime and integration.

Since 2017, we’ve been developing trauma-informed, relational music projects at Vinney Green Secure Children’s Home in Bristol. Although disrupted by Covid-19, we relaunched this work in September 2020. There is a real appetite for music among these young people and we are excited to be developing our work with them. In response to the success of this work and the demand for it, we will be expanding our music provision with young people who are in the criminal justice system, or who are at risk of entering it. Called Young Voices, this initiative will see us working with young people in pupil referral units for the first time, whilst growing our work in secure children’s homes and young offender institutions. 

We also continue to work with participants after their release from prison, through our post-release hubs in Bristol, Hampshire, Exeter and Birmingham. This regional network means that we can continue to support our participants in their onward journey from prison. Our musicians engage post-release participants in group music sessions and local volunteers also participate, building community through musical collaboration. Musicians work one-on-one with participants, providing individualised support and space to talk, as well as signposting them to local services and opportunities. We look forward to expanding our post-release programme further, through the launch of a hub in South Wales this year.

Thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, earlier this year we launched a Record Label and Artist Development Service, called Red Tangent Records. This is the brainchild of a former participant, who has been a Changing Tunes Musician-in-Residence for three years now and is heading up the label as its Manager. Red Tangent will support talented musicians who have lived experience of the criminal justice system, giving artists tailored support so that they can advance their music work and thrive in a challenging and changing industry. It will support artists to develop, record and market their music, to build sustainable careers, and to change people’s perception of what it means to be an ex-prisoner. Ultimately, it will help enrich the music industry with diverse voices and talent.

Our Annual Concert is a fantastic opportunity for our participants to showcase their work to a live audience, and a chance for us and our supporters to celebrate their achievements. This year, the concert will take place at 7.30pm on Saturday 13th November at Redland Church Hall in Bristol.

Free tickets are available here. There will also be a livestream of the event on our YouTube channel. We do hope you can join us, either in person or virtually, for what promises to be an entertaining and inspiring evening. 

Follow us on social media for the latest updates on our work:

Twitter: @ChangingTunesSW

Facebook: @changingtunes

Instagram: @changingtunes/


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