Value Of Music: Key4Life

Here, at The BRIT Trust & BPI, we want to highlight the importance of the Value of Music, not just to the Economy and through its positive social impact, but also to our personal well-being. It’s only through looking at all the amazing benefits of music that we can really see the full value of music to us and those around us.


Key4life is the innovative and highly successful rehabilitative charity working with young offenders in London, Bristol and the South West, in which music plays an important role,and is one of the worthy causes supported by the BRIT Trust.


What is Key4Life?


Founded in 2012, Key4Life is a charity that supports and empowers vulnerable young men in prison and those at risk of going to prison aged 18-25. Key4Life supports these young men into secured employment and reintegrating back into society on a positive path away from crime. Key4Life’s aim is to reduce youth re-offending rates and address not simply the symptoms but the root causes of offending.


Key4Life delivers a 12-month rehabilitation programme, both in prison and post-release, with the support of trained mentors and businesses. The success of our programme is based on our three core pillars:


  1. Emotional resilience and unlocking negative behaviours that led to conviction
  2. Employability support to gain work experience and secure a job or training
  3. On-going support to reintegrate into the community and sustain employment




The role of music with young offenders

Music also plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of the young offenders on the Key4Life programme. Key4Life is partnered with Universal Music and the BRIT Trust and we bring the artists inside the prison for music workshops. Music works as a vehicle for the participants to express themselves in a safe, honest and creative space. They benefit greatly from the group setting and performing alongside each other within the prison. Post-release we still continue the work with music, Key4Life has produced many of our tracks including “I and I’ produced by Naughty Boy and ‘What If’ with a music video produced in association with Island Records and SBTV.


Anthon, Caseworker and Ambassador for Key4Life writes and performs his own music, as well as developing the charity’s music workshops


Anthon aged 23, is an outgoing young man and a very talented musician. Key4Life has worked with him since November 2014 – he participated in the successful programme at HMP/YOI Isis three months pre-release. Having now graduated from the Key4Life programme, Anthon is currently helping to work with other young men creating new tracks and developing the charity’s music workshops, as well as being a caseworker for the charity.


“Music helps me personally by giving me the means to express my life experiences to create a better idea of who I am as a person. Music is something that everyone can relate to, whether that’s through writing, listening or performing, I use music to relate and engage other people to come together and share their experiences.” – Anthon, Caseworker and Ambassador, Key4Life




HMP Wormwood Scrubs and ‘At Risk’ Somerset participants Sean and Sonny producing a track with producer J Rokka at a Key4Life Rural Residential




‘At Risk’ Somerset participants recording the ‘I and I’ EP with Naughty Boy at his recording studio




Some members of the Key4Life band with Jordan from Rizzle Kicks at Universal Music Recording Studios


What difference does Key4Life make?


How have we changed lives?


63% Of participants in sustained employment one year after release

  • 4x More than the national average – compared to 15% of offenders nationally whom secure employment within one year
  • 14% Of participants have reoffended one year after release – compared to the national average of 64%


The initial pre-release work provides the bedrock to emotional and behavioural change through a series of workshops encompassing Equine Facilitated Learning (this includes working with the horses inside and outside the prison), music, sport, personal development and employability.


The role of horses


You may be interested to also hear how horses play an important role in the programme, especially at the early stages of the programme. Eva Hamilton, the Founder and CEO of the charity, took two horses with professional facilitators into a South West prison for her pilot prison programme in 2012 with 23 of the toughest gang leaders that had shown no respect to the charity and other interventions. It wasn’t until the horses came into the prison many of the young men hid under chairs, overcome with fear and respect for the first time for these half-tonne four-legged creatures. The horse therapy is a stepping stone to engage the young men. If the young man is aggressive the horse runs away, if anxious it ignores the prisoner and starts eating the grass. When calm and focussed the horses will approach the young men, and run and turn.




‘At Risk’ Somerset participant Jack with racehorse Vicente at his work placement at renowned trainer Paul Nicholl’s yard, Somerset




‘At Risk’ London participant Joey enjoying an equine facilitated learning workshop in Somerset




Charles and Mehari from the HMP Wormwood Scrubs programme engaging with the horses at the Somerset Office


For further information visit


If you’d like to get involved and help with our music workshops, or would like to help through becoming a volunteer mentors, help fundraise, offer work experience or jobs – do get in touch We look forward to hearing from you.