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  • Writer's pictureSing Inside

Co-creation at Hear Me Out

Hear Me Out have been making music in UK Immigration Detention Centres since 2006, with people who are locked up without knowledge of when they will be released or where they will go. In this blog, artistic direction Gini Simpson reflects on how co-creation empowers the people they work with, and their plans to take this approach forward.

Hear Me Out’s work is built around the premise that through music and other artistic mediums, we can support empowerment, agency and better wellbeing. We work with artists and people held in detention to make sound tracks which we record in detention and platform to the world, in as many ways as possible.

Our artistic work is always co-created. Detention strips agency, but co-creation creates empowerment and makes space for people to lead, assert and express themselves. We also work with people who have recently been released from immigration detention, which includes consultation, running a touring band for musicians we met in detention and now creating ongoing support programmes.

Through this work and organisational commitment to Black Lives Matter, we are now looking at the necessity of power-sharing and the opportunity this brings to transform our work and its ongoing impact. As an organisation, we have committed to developing co-creation across our structures as well as our artistic output, ensuring decision-making flows from a combination of lived experience, ensuring relevance and organisational know how. This means finding ways for power to be authentically shared with the people we are here to support, and changing how our governance, our board and our staff team operate.

We’re still at the early stages of this and are beginning to bring lived experience into our team and board of trustees, which has already made a big difference to the ways we work. We are changing recruitment processes and fundraising narratives, devising procedures to help us support the complicated challenges the people we work with face and to learn from them. We are also rethinking how we can counter patronage, to ensure agency.

There are many challenges and few prescriptive solutions. Co-creation for us is linked to trauma-informed practice and trust, we know we need to make challenges and create safety as well as a continuing to ensure authenticity. A big asset for us, as we grapple with these challenges, is our extraordinary team of artists, who have been working in these ways since our inception.

If you have any questions about Hear Me Out’s work on co-creation or if you would like to share experiences or learnings on co-creation from your own organisation, then please reach out to the team at

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