Originally addressed to our CEO, what follows is a letter written by a mother whose daughter died as a result of the actions of a young man that sings with us in HMP Maidstone. She visits, she listens and where words fail music speaks.
In this culture full of superhero movies and extraterrestrial saviours, sometimes we fail to recognise the real heroes that are making a difference and saving many from failure and shame. Without judging, you extend your hands to the ones locked up in pain and anger, confusion and disappointment, bringing unity through raising voices in one accord to find joy and comfort and release all those destructive emotions that can easily put us down.
Nick constantly tells me how he forgets that he is in prison every time he goes to rehearsals, and I have started making sure not to book a Wednesday visit so he doesn’t miss the precious time he has with the choir! It has become a sacred space where hope invades, and time stands still. It is a place that allows restoration to occur. Your work transcends the one, touches families and extended families and, in the process, impacts communities, impacts society, transforms and redirects lives to a better tomorrow. Experiencing what you do has been a taste from heaven!
That afternoon in Maidstone,* I felt so loved, it was like being carried away on the notes of the songs and speeches, to a place of value, hope and forgiveness: a pocket of mercy and kindness opened to all of us who, in tragedy, forgot how to get up.
It’s great to be happy, but it’s better still to bring happiness to others! Your passion and dedication are outstanding and should be imitated by many; investing in all of us because your core values say that we matter.
It is people like you who motivate us to believe in a better future, teaching how to ask better questions and produce real solutions in this broken world. I heard somebody say: “use your eyes to see the needs, and use your talents to meet them”, and that is exactly what you do! Forgetting to protest or complain, using your time and resources wisely, asking the right questions in order to make a difference in people’s lives and being an example of how life is meant to be lived.
Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.”
With tears in my eyes and with all my heart,
Even when a Thank You is not enough…
*Editor’s note: a full account of the concert that the choir gave in Maidstone, to mark the UN’s World Day of Peace, can be found here.