Saturday 19 October saw England thrash Australia in the Rugby World Cup, a protest in Westminster, and the first annual Sing Inside Training Day. For the first time, Sing Inside's board of trustees, Executive Committee, and members of Local Committees came together to exchange ideas and experiences, learn about each other's roles in the charity, and share thoughts about Sing Inside's future.
The afternoon started the same way as Sing Inside's workshops: with ice-breakers and warm-ups. Even in that short time, it was evident how this kind of group participation prepared us for the rest of the afternoon and put us in the same frame of mind. Led by our chief executive, Maisie Hulbert, we scribbled our one-word impressions of Sing Inside and our one-liners about our visions for Sing Inside's future as food for thought throughout the day.
Maisie then set the day in context by taking us through Sing Inside's growth over the past five years, noting new prison partnerships, expansion into different regions of the UK, and the registration of Sing Inside as a charity. The chair of our board of trustees, Nigel Rothband, backed this up with an explanation of how charity status will influence the organisation's future, and the role of the trustees in encouraging us down the right paths.
Attendees then had a choice between three break-out sessions. We were extremely grateful to a former prison officer, Darren Worboys, for leading one of these sessions on the role of a prison officer and information more generally about the prison estate. He provided some valuable insight into the daily life of prison residents and struggles faced by prison staff which may impact Sing Inside visit logistics.
Andrea Brown, trustee, and Jonathan Schranz, head of musical development, conducted a session on musical leadership: how to select suitable repertoire for workshops, how to increase your flexibility on the ground to accommodate the group's ability and prison facilities, and workshop leading skills.
Finally, Maisie held a general problem-solving workshop for local committee members, with topics ranging from how to store receipts to team management. A really important area for our local committees is diversifying our volunteer pools, so a big element of the discussion focused on how to reach out to other community music groups and volunteer organisations to share opportunities. The relationships between our local committees and university partnerships was also high on the agenda, and there are big opportunities for collaboration in the future.
We came together afterwards to brainstorm where Sing Inside might be in five years, and what our volunteers would like to see the organisation become. Some interesting discussions ensued about sustainability, expansion, and the potential for a Christmas single... We shall see what ideas come to fruition!
The beginning of the new academic year is always an exciting time for Sing Inside, as it sees a flurry of new volunteers sign up in response to the enthusiasm and drive of our new Local Committees. Armed with new knowledge, deeper support from Sing Inside management, and an eye on the future, we are sure that the year up until our next training day will be very busy and successful indeed.
Giverny McAndry, head of policy and volunteer development