Lady Unchained, 2021
Poet, performer and radio host Lady Unchained works alongside young people in youth offending services.
Lady Unchained created a week-long project exploring lyric writing and beat-making. The safe and encouraging space created by Lady Unchained encouraged the young people taking part to develop thoughtful and powerful poetry and lyrics reflecting on real-life and fictional experiences.
"I had the pleasure of sitting in with the group and can say it was a pleasure to see how relaxed and fulfilling the programme was run. Brenda used her own experiences and used her own personal experiences and art which the young people related to, followed by them being given time to write their own lyrics that they performed to us, their first experience of performing in front of anyone but themselves. They were also challenged about their choice of lyrics and encouraged that by speaking metaphorically, they can get their message across to listeners without causing conflict for themselves as a means of preventing future issues or problems." (Youth Offending Service Manager)
Through poetry Lady Unchained tells her personal story and the stories of those with experience of the criminal justice system that are often left untold, because of shame, stigma and negative labels. With the support of her friends, she was inspired to set up Unchained Poetry, a platform for artists with experience of the criminal justice system. Lady Unchained has now worked with a number of charities, including Body and Soul Charity, Working Chance and Safe Ground. She hosts Unchained Nights in partnership with Artsadmin at Toynbee Studios; a night of inspirational storytelling, through poetry and music, performed by artists with lived experience of the justice system. She also co-hosts for the National Prison Radio show We Are Straightline, a show about getting out of prison and staying out of prison.