Music unlocks former gang leaders’ & young offenders’ potential


With knife crime and gang warfare on the rise, Key4Life – supported by the music industry and, specifically, The BRIT Trust – helps to tackle the intractable social problem of young adult male re-offending through a seven-step model with a key focus on music. Artists such as George the Poet, Al, the Native (formerly Jordan from Rizzle Kicks) and KSI amongst others, have been instrumental in their support inside and outside prisons through music workshops.


To celebrate The BRIT Trust’s support for Key4Life from over the last three years, Key4Life today launches a short film to highlight the value of music and to celebrate the crucial role that music plays in the rehabilitation of the young offenders.  Music works as a powerful vehicle for the young offenders to channel their passion and energies in a more positive way, and to express themselves in a safe, honest and creative space.


Key4Life brings in grime and other artists inside the prison for their music workshops that form part of the charity’s effective seven-step programme.


Eva Hamilton MBE, CEO and Founder of Key4Life, said: “Music therapy is vital part of Key4Life’s engagement strategy to build confidence, emotional resilience and unlock young men’s creative potential and we are hugely grateful to The BRIT Trust and BPI for their invaluable support over the last three years.”


Key4Life’s latest prison programme at HMP Brixton saw, Young Spray, Sneakbo, Al, the Native (formerly Jordan from Rizzle Kicks), Walter Ego help run a music workshop as part of the initial “Unlock stages” of the charity’s year-long programme pre- and post-release. The young men benefit greatly from the group setting and performing alongside each other within the prison. Through the gates, Key4Life continues the work with music and has produced a number of tracks including “I and I” produced by Naughty Boy and a forthcoming EP to be launched in May in association with Island Records.


The BRIT Trust was set up in 1989 by UK record labels body the BPI to distribute funds raised by the BRIT Awards and other music fundraising events to charities that promote education and wellbeing through music. To date the Trust has donated over £20 million, principally to the BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins music therapy but also to War Child, ELAM, Music Support and, of course, Key4Life, amongst others.

Chairman of The BRIT Trust, John Craig OBE
, said, “At the Trust we recognise how important it is to provide opportunities for young people to express their creativity, often through music. It is the first time we have supported an organisation working with young offenders, allowing them to express themselves, and it fits in perfectly with the Trust’s ethos and mission in giving young people life skills that can help them and then hopefully convert into jobs. On behalf of all my fellow trustees I wish Key4Life much success.”


Maggie Crowe OBE, Director of Events & Charities at the BPI and a BRIT Trust Trustee, said: “At The BRIT Trust and BPI we want to highlight the value that music has, not just culturally and to the economy, but through its positive social impact and to our personal well-being. It’s only by taking in all the amazing benefits of music, such as in this case helping to reform young offenders, that we can really appreciate the full value of music to us and those around us.”


Take a look at our film showcasing how The BRIT Trust and Key4Life have successfully collaborated.


Case study
Anthon, former participant and now Caseworker for Key4Life writes and performs his own music, as well as heads up the charity’s music workshops. Anthon aged 23, received a six-year prison sentence and served three years in prison, during that time he took part in the Key4Life programme which helped turn his life around. Music has played a big part in his rehabilitation and he is now a lead Caseworker for the charity, helping to work with other young men change their lives for the better alongside spearheading the music creating new tracks and developing the charity’s music workshops. Key4Life has worked with him since November 2014 – he participated in the successful programme at HMP/YOI Isis three months pre-release.


“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