Words by Jamie Webb wrote whilst setting off on the road to Sierra Leone…
Today we head back to WAYout Arts in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This will be our third visit to this awesome charity who support disadvantaged and street youth through the arts.
Our goal when we visited last year was to raise funds to purchase a mobile recording studio in order for WAYout to reach more young people on the outskirts of Freetown and the provinces beyond.
We’re looking forward to heading out with the studio and see what people have been learning the impact it has and to offer assistance and support where needed.
The success of last year led to this impending visit and the fundraising campaign which goes with it. The mobile studio has been visiting the male prison in Freetown giving inmates the opportunity to learn music, make beats and produce tracks. The prison general was very impressed with the positive impact the visits had and because of this asked WAYout if they could set up a small permanent studio in a rent-free space which the prison donated.
The demand to use the mobile studio was 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.
Thanks to our supporters and the generosity of our friend Frank Turner enough money has been raised to set up in the space. This is so exciting and we can’t wait to get involved in this amazing new WAYout initiative which will inspire and help create social mobility through music.
Joe Strummer Foundation