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Welcome to Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is a registered charity (number 1126493) that helps prisoners, secure hospital patients, ex-prisoners and others in the community develop crucial life and work skills, through participating in intensive gamelan (Indonesian bronze percussion) courses. Since 2003, Good Vibrations has worked with more than 2400 individuals in 33 different secure institutions. Gamelan is an extremely effective tool for achieving our aims:

  • It is very accessible
  • You don’t need to have any previous musical experience
  • You don’t need to be able to read music
  • It’s easy to learn the basics
  • It’s a very communal activity – there is no overall conductor or leader and everyone’s contribution is equally important
  • You have to listen to everyone else to fit your own part in

A Good Vibrations course typically runs as a week-long residency for a group of 15 – 20 participants. Most will not have done anything musical before. At the end of the week, the group puts on an informal performance. Each performance is recorded and a CD produced, a copy of which is given to everyone who has taken part. Participants benefit enormously from the short but intensive experience.

Research that we have commissioned shows that our courses:

  • Help people develop crucial life/work skills and improve relationships with peers/staff/family members;
  • Increase engagement with other constructive activities eg education and Offending Behaviour Programmes;
  • Improve people’s sense of well-being and calm;
  • Can dramatically reduce self-harm rates;
  • And furthermore that these benefits are sustained in the longer term.

We have a reputation for being both professional and effective, particularly in working with more difficult and hard-to-engage people that other interventions and projects fail to reach, for example:

  • Self-harmers
  • The very low-skilled
  • VPs (Vulnerable Prisoners)
  • Non English speakers
  • “failed learners”
  • “Persistent Basic” (ie persistent trouble-makers)
  • People with serious mental health problems and severe personality disorders
  • People coming off drugs

We often work alongside other professionals, eg prison education providers, prison drugs teams, prison safer custody teams, prison psychology teams, prison Industries. These partners value our work particularly in terms of engaging the hard-to-reach and acting as a ‘gateway’ into other activities, including other arts projects, mainstream education and Offending Behaviour Programmes.