In this short blog series, we introduce our board to you with a series of short questions.
How did you first hear about Sing Inside?
I first heard about Sing Inside when I visited the student society fair when I arrived in Cambridge to start my MPhil in Criminological Research in 2016. I was lucky enough to attend several workshops and instantly fell in love with all Sing Inside stands for. For me, it was a great way of being involved in something different, meeting new people (both other students and prison residents) and having a break from the stress of writing a research dissertation. I was not a particularly confident singer, but I found it liberating and cathartic to have the opportunity to sing as part of a group in a judgment-free, fun workshop setting.
After that first session, Sing Inside workshops quickly became one of my favourite parts of being in Cambridge.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, friendly and dog-obsessed (does that count as three?!)
Where are you based and what do you do at the moment?
I am currently based in Kent and am a Research Officer at the Prison Reform Trust. I started at PRT in January and while it has been an unusual first year in post due to the pandemic, I am part of an amazing team and I find the work incredibly rewarding. We are currently working on a project called Building Futures, which focuses on understanding and improving the experiences of people serving very long prison sentences in the hope of creating a more just and humane prison system. I hope my knowledge and experience in this work will help me when working as part of the Sing Inside team.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in lockdown?
I would say that I have learned how to happily spend time by myself. I am a very sociable person and would ordinarily spend a lot of my free time on the go, seeing friends and socialising. The prospect of missing out on this was hard at first but I now feel more content in my own company than I have done previously. I think this is what I would take away from lockdown – I don’t always need to have a jam-packed social calendar!
What are your hopes for Sing Inside in the next few years?
I think it will be really important for Sing Inside to continue to explore ways of remotely engaging with prisoners and volunteers. This year has forced many organisations to re-evaluate their way of working and this will undoubtedly will be useful when planning and executing future projects to ensure the work is as wide-reaching as possible. Recognising that Sing Inside can still have a hugely positive impact even when face-to-face workshops are not possible is invaluable when demonstrating to prison managers and policy makers why this work is so important.
In light of the positive news of a vaccine, we all hope life will be able to return to some sense of normality in the Spring, and I hope that this period can be productive and exciting for Sing Inside in terms of expansion and development. This year has presented some unimaginably hard challenges for people in prison and I believe that opportunities for creativity, togetherness and fun are now needed more than ever.