In January 2020 the Joe Strummer Foundation and Frank Turner head back to Freetown with WAYout Arts.
Hazel Chandler, founder of WAYout has invited us back over to Freetown, Sierra Leone and had the below to say:
The visits of Frank Turner and the Joe Strummer Foundation bring hope and motivation to the street youth WAYout works with. For weeks in advance of a visit they push themselves to learn and create more so that they can show how much they have progressed since the last visit. Approval from Frank, Jamie, Dave and Ben means a lot to them and the fact that they visit them on home territory, in the slums, means that the community can see they are not just dropouts and thugs but people who are achieving something that is recognised by international visitors.
No online exchange could replace the impact of face to face meeting. Approximately 300 youth are currently practising their tracks, designing posters or planning their performance to impress their friends from overseas. In the prison, 30 members of the choir are rehearsing Frank Turner tracks so that they can back him live and many more will watch the performance. All these things not only provide a goal for achieving something but in the process, new skills are learnt, confidence blossoms and people who once only looked down, now look up, literacy improves and a voice is found and with it the ambition to change their lives.
The Story So Far
Our previous visit and fundraising push was to purchase a vehicle and mobile recording equipment so that WAYout could reach more young people in the provinces and other hard to reach areas.
One of such areas was a male prison in downtown Freetown which has been visited once a week since June. The demand and welcome have been overwhelming and very quickly the guards and Director-General were asking that a permanent WAYout studio was set-up. They had noticed a drop in fights, general anger, abusiveness and a rise in spirits of those engaged in music.
Having something positive to look forward to that could be carried on after prison is directing energies away from troublesome behaviour towards creativity and achievement. Those who take part also improve their English, learn IT skills and other technology-related skills. It challenges the perception of them and what they can do in wider society. It provides hope to these young people and it is more likely that when they get out they will be accepted back into their own communities. We envisage around 500 men will benefit from using the studio.
One of the prisoners who was inside for 2 years, recorded music and is now out. He went straight to WAYout to register.
“Being in prison made me know more about pain. I have written name songs but when the mobile studio came it helped us to show our talent and build our confidence. When I came out I saw WAYout as a home and hope for the future with my music and learning other things. I thank you for WAYout’s great support” - Philip Sanu
The Items We Need To Raise Funds For
We would like to help WAYout set up a small studio in the prison which has provided a rent-free space but no funding with which to equip and support it. In order to help we will set-up a fundraising campaign in order to purchase the below:
2 - iMac
1 Sound card
2 Electric guitars
2 Acoustic guitars
1 Guitar amp
Plus tables, chairs, petrol for generator, transport, paper, pens and money to pay a staff member and producer for 1 year.
Frank is generously raising funds through ticket sales for his upcoming solo tour. Tickets are now on sale! £1 from every ticket will go to WAYout (Worldwide Arts for Youth).
Get your tickets here:
MERCH: JSF X FRANK TURNER
We have created this awesome t-shirt in order to create an ongoing WAYout fund so we can continue to help them in their mission to change the lives of street, vulnerable and conflict-affected young people through the arts.
Wi Lek Wi Salone
The Joe Strummer Foundation