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Meet the ex-inmates helped by music in prison

“If it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be working towards a career”

InHouse Records runs workshops that support offenders. The scheme has massively boosted positive behaviour among participants and practically none of whom go on to re-offend.

When Covid-19 struck, InHouse’s workshops suspended and prisoners suddenly found themselves confined to their cells, sometimes for 23 hours a day.

The Big Issue has heard from two former prisoners on how InHouse’s programmes helped them on the inside.

Carl, AKA C Roots, recently completed a 16-year sentence at HMP Stanford Hill. He’s been involved with InHouse for a number of years both as a performer and a trainee manager.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist George Leonside left HMP Rochester in 2019 after serving a year.

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Carl, AKA C Roots

From the age of 14 I played music then just forgot about it. My environment, life, just got in the way. I started back up again in prison, doing electronic beats. Once I linked up with InHouse, we acted more as a band, there was more people playing instruments. I got to grow in my performance, confidence, everything. If it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be working towards a career. I wouldn’t have something that I love and want to stay in and never be on the police database again. I’m rehabilitated because I choose to be rehabilitated. Only an individual can choose to change, no one can make them change. You have to go out and get it. My main change is I’ve changed myself.

George Leonside

Music is the food of love, in the words of Shakespeare. Just because you’ve been convicted for a crime, it doesn’t mean that everything you do in everyday life involves criminal activity. You get guys who are talented musicians, but life brings them different struggles. It was really great to be able to do something like music within the prison environment. An introduction to other music genres through the InHouse guys was a blessing for me because it helped me with my writing. If anything, there needs to be a lot more workshops like it in prison. You should be given the opportunity to participate in what could belife-changing activities, because that is how you’re going to see the good in something. You have to show people the light at the end of the tunnel if you want them to get out.

Listen to interviews with Carl and George on InHouse: The Podcast

This article is from a special edition of The Big Issue magazine. Get a copy of ‘Locked Up in Lockdown‘ in The Big Issue Shop or purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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