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Using music to reduce reoffending

Good Vibrations works in 46 prisons supporting prisoners and ex-prisoners and helps them develop life skills through gamelan music, a communal music-making genre from Indonesia. There’s been lots of independent research done about its positive impact in reducing reoffending, improving staff-prisoner relations and  boostiing chances of employment.  

Good Vibrations say they are addressing multiple, connected problems: high rates of reoffending in the UK, long term unemployment of people with disabilities and mental health conditions, poor well-being and violence in secure institutions, people lacking the basic skills they need for successful social participation, people with complex needs in challenging circumstances lacking confidence, motivation, lack of engagement in education.

This isn’t really about music. Music is simply the tool through they create a range of impacts, which will help tackle the problems in prisons.

They have an impressive impact in many areas including encouraging prisoners to engage in education courses, building staff-prisoner relations, preventing future offending, helping long-term unemployed into work.

A few quotes from prison staff and prisoners:

  • “So many people in custody have experienced complex traumas … Good Vibrations has demonstrated the way it can [build] a more positive sense of self.” (Lincoln Prison Governor)
  • “Your projects have been excellent with engaging prisoners who struggle to engage … And have thus impacted on their ability to plan for their future resettlement needs.” (Regional Head of Learning, Skills and Employment: Essex, Sussex and Kent Prisons)
  • “My negativity started turning positive. I felt I could handle many problems.” (A Good Vibrations participant)
  • "The courses improve their sense of well-being ... and can dramatically reduce self-harm rates.” (HMP Inspectorate, 2014)
  • 2016 Nottingham Trent University research found: “All participants … improved their social skills and interpersonal relationships.”
  • “This project will help people with violence and anger management issues, to give them coping strategies, contributing to violence reduction.” (HMP Wormwood Scrubs Reducing Re-offending Manager)
  • “People in prison are quite stressed … This music, these particular sounds take you out of that into a kind of human space and that’s where we kind of solved a lot of problems and got a lot of healing.” (A participant)
  • "Staff want the support/resources and thinking space to humanise relationships with service-users ... Good Vibrations gives service-users and staff a forum to experience one another outside their stereotyped roles and normalises power difference in relationships." (HMP Gartree, Director of Therapy)
  • “[For] building staff-prisoner relationships it was so positive.” (Participant).
  • “The courses help prisoners to improve relationships with their peers, staff and family members.” (HMP Inspectorate, 2014)
  • “Coming off my methadone, the course took my mind off completely what was happening to me.”
  • "The lads have become more open to change because this project is something completely out of the normal that takes them outside their comfort zone. It reinforces a belief change is a good thing, and most lads here are stuck in a revolving door of misuse and offending because of not being willing to change, so this could start changing that." (Participants)

Contact: Katherine Haigh – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 07535 145 797


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