In order for us to continue and expand our singing programme, both within the prison and in the community, we need to appeal to a wider audience for generous financial support. This is all the more vital in a period of austerity and government cut backs.
All income is used to benefit the community by delivering programmes in the prison and extending and developing the Liberty Choirs.
“ Liberty Choir is now in its fifth year in the Trinity Wing of HMP Wandsworth and it is considered to be one of the most successful volunteer programmes at the prison.”
Jeanne Bryant Governor HMP Wandsworth
“What Liberty Choir is doing is exemplary – using music in prison to create something unique. But the Liberty Choir is more than just the singing – their connection with the prisoners is tangible and their kindness, support and care extends way beyond the prison walls.”
Emma Freud OBE, broadcaster, cultural commentator & honorary trustee of Comic Relief
“In the criminal justice system, we consider that each prisoner who does not reoffend has a positive impact on at least 100 people in the community. “
Ian Bickers former Wandsworth Prison Governor
“The whole concert was a demonstration of what can be achieved with time, care, work and belief – elements which one imagines have been in short supply for much of those prisoners’ lives. Every prison should have a Liberty Choir – and more concerts please.”
Sandra Parsons Literary Editor, Daily Mail ( Liberty Choir Friends and Family Concert)
“Liberty Choir is valuable – to inmates, ex-inmates, to society in general. It gives hope …. it is the most wonderful thing. I hope the movement grows and grows.”
Robert Bathurst actor
“What you do makes a world of difference. It helped me feel more human in a difficult and oppressive environment. It gave me something to look forward to each week.Thanks for taking us all under your wing and making a difference to our lives.”
J HMP High Down Liberty Choir singer
“I hold the Liberty Choir so fundamentally accountable for enabling R to make a success of his time inside. … Being part of your choir sparked off this whole creative process that has kept him sane and productive throughout.”
Wife of an HMP Wandsworth, Liberty Choir singer
Liberty Choir volunteers and graduates before the South London Choir weekly rehearsal. Photo by Mark Harrison
Liberty Choir was dreamed up by MJ Paranzino, singer, composer and choir director, and her partner, the journalist and writer, Ginny Dougary, more than ten years ago. Their idea was to take MJ’s singers into prisons to create choirs with inmates in a continuous programme of choir singing.
The second part of the programme kicks in when the ex-offenders are ready to be released into the community – our hope, which has become a reality, was that former prisoners would feel comfortable joining the community choirs, where they would recognize familiar faces and friends, be part of a community and enjoy a healthy and fun activity.
We are now in our fifth year in HMP Wandsworth; we have been in our second prison, HMP High Down since October 2017 and our third prison, HMP Downview, our first women’s prison, since February 2018.
We are looking to expand into two to three more prisons in 2019 and are in discussions with two in particular to enter in early 2019.
Listen to MJ’s Community Choirs singing carols along with our Liberty Choir graduates and their family and friends at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Radio 4’s Front Row arts show broadcast on Christmas Day 2018 at 7.15pm
David Gilmour talks about the Liberty Choir on the Andrew Marr show
We are grateful to all our founding supporters and friends but David Gilmour and Polly Samson have gone above and beyond to help Liberty Choirs – not only financially but with their time and continuous outspoken public support of the programme.
For a full round up of our extensive press coverage read here