BBC Radio 4 Appeal

Presented by Benjamin Zephaniah

On Sunday 9 August, acclaimed musician, poet and actor Benjamin Zephaniah presented our charity appeal on BBC Radio 4.

“The arts transformed my life. I remember the exact day I chose the road that led away from crime towards a life of music and poetry.”

Benjamin talked about his own experience of prison, how being in prison can make a bad start in life worse and the role the arts play in rehabilitation. He explained how Good Vibrations’ gamelan music projects help people collaborate, find hope for the future and break the cycle of re-offending. By supporting this appeal you can help make a difference to the lives of hundreds more men, women and young people.

You can still listen online here

How to donate:

Donations are no longer being accepted through BBC Radio 4, but you can still donate direct:

Thank you

Gamelan music in prisons transforms lives

We use the Indonesian gamelan, a magnificent set of gongs, drums and xylophones that create a magical, multi-layered soundscape. Groups come together for a whole week to collaborate, improvise and learn new skills. Then they perform to an invited audience which is incredibly empowering. Our work creates a culture of shared responsibility and leadership, which supports social and communication skills and improved well-being.

Around a quarter of prisoners grew up in care and a third have experienced abuse. It’s crucial to give them the tools and confidence to see their own potential, have pride in themselves and forge more positive self-identities. It’s about building trust in others and confidence in themselves. We believe that with the right support anyone can change their story. Our projects are designed to help people in prison see for themselves what they’re capable of and, on release, we offer long-term support to help them make that new story a reality.

Errol and Rob’s stories

“I grew up in care. I saw crime as the only way of expressing my anger. Playing gamelan helped me learn to co-operate, communicate and experience harmony with other people. You can’t play music with someone and stay angry. I now realise I’m at my most impactful when I choose not to kick off and show compassion instead. Good Vibrations helps me keep on track.”

Read more about Errol’s story here.

“I first got into trouble with the police at 5 years old. With alcoholic parents and no guidance, I was soon excluded from school and by 11 was involved with drink and drugs. I was out of control, angry and violent and prison was inevitable. Playing gamelan with Good Vibrations gave me the chance to build confidence and self-belief. I’ve got a partner and a baby now so it’s important that I’m a positive role model.”

Read more about Rob’s story here

Our patron, Bill Bailey, on his love of gamelan

Professor Laura Caulfield on our impact

HMP Stoke Heath project - gamelan and spoken word

Russell Haynes on how our work helped him