Hear Me Out


Our Story

People tell us that taking music into UK immigration detention centres is a brilliant idea and ask where it came from. The inspiration, like so many movements, started with one person.

Remembering Helen

Helen Tetlow (1951-2002) was a teacher, musician and activist. Helen spent her life standing up for and empowering refugees. That’s how we met. She also loved music and once packed her sax and went busking round Europe. Helen died suddenly and young. Her partner Peter wanted to use the money she left behind to help the most disadvantaged migrants in the UK. So he gathered Helen’s friends and family, myself included, to start a project. We were, and still are, so inspired by Katia Chornik’s research into the music made by Chilean political prisoners during the dictatorship of Pinochet. We were struck by how music was a way to process, remember, forget or transcend difficult experiences. Maybe my grandparents heard the music of Terezin before they were deported to Auschwitz and their deaths. To honour Helen’s life, we knew we wanted to get music into UK immigration detention centres. And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since 2006.

Who we are today

We’ve grown to a team of 5 staff and 34 artists. All devoted to supporting the mental wellbeing of the people locked in immigration detention and to changing attitudes to migrants in the communities around them. We’re really proud that in 2019, Lamin Joof joined the board as a trustee – an important point in our history as Lamin was held in the immigration detention system when he first got involved in our workshops. If you ever need proof of the power of music to bring strength and resilience to people held in detention, look to Lamin. As the UK has become increasingly hostile to migrants and with recurring episodes such as the Windrush scandal, we believe our work is more important than ever. We need to speak to people like you, who believe in humanity and dignity for people incarcerated in UK immigration detention centres – and we need your support. Alone we cannot free people from detention, but together we can give them some release. We can make sure their songs, their stories, their voices are heard.

Meet the Team

Hear Me Out is a passionate team of musicians, experts, teachers and people with real experience of UK immigration detention. Together, we’re working for the day when all migrants are treated with dignity.


John Speyer


I’m descended from Polish, Dutch, Spanish and Moroccan Jews who came to the UK in the 19th and 20th centuries. Learning about the Holocaust as a teenager was a formative experience. I have worked and volunteered with communities and marginalised groups for 30 years. I was a primary school teacher and Deputy Head, then led a community regeneration charity in Sheffield. Music has been a passion since childhood. I’ve been Director of Hear Me Out since 2008. I love the way our work goes to the heart of complex problems and the power of the music we help create.

Gini Simpson

Arts Development Manager

I'm responsible for developing Hear Me Out’s artistic processes and public events. I also work with The Sick of the Fringe, developing arts and health-based programmes and co-founded Un-Age, an intergenerational startup programme. I am Chair of the Media and Networked Arts Organisation and furtherfield, sit on the board of the Live Art Development Agency. I am an industrial advisor to the Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) Media Arts and Technology Doctoral Training Centre. Previously, I was Managing Director for Phakama, Head of Learning and Participation at the Barbican, and managed Business Development for the Arts and Creative Industries at QMUL.

Zoe Burton

Programme Manager

My professional background is in delivering a range of services for vulnerable people, asylum seekers and refugees in particular, including separated children. I worked at the Refugee Council for several years where I ran the drop in day centre service and developed residential weekend programmes for asylum seeking teenagers. Having graduated with a degree in Theatre Studies with Language & Literature, I strove to establish participatory arts projects alongside practical and emotional support for clients attending the centre. I studied Family Therapy with the Tavistock Clinic and am also a qualified TEFL teacher.

Ellen Jordan

Programme and Evaluation Co-ordinator

I joined the Hear Me Out team as the Programme and Evaluation Coordinator in 2019. After studying music at the University of York, I worked at Rural Arts North Yorkshire, gaining numerous experiences such as organising rural tours with under-privileged young people. In 2015, I co-founded the York Community Gamelan and led workshops including a gamelan residency project at a homeless centre. I studied Javanese and Sundanese music in Indonesia before moving to London and working in a homeless hostel. I also developed several projects with the Indonesian Embassy including a collaborative dance and music performance at WOMAD 2019.

Emma Bracegirdle

Individual Giving Manager

I have worked in the charity sector for the last 10 years, helping charities to reach and connect with their supporters. My experience is mainly in small and medium sized charities – helping with fundraising, marketing and running campaigns. My role at Hear Me Out is Individual Giving Manager. I look after the amazing people who make the work we do possible. I believe that people trapped in Immigration Detention Centres deserve to be listened to and that with the power of music, we can help them find the mental refuge that they deserve.

Phoebe Walker

Freelance Fundraiser

Based in Manchester, I support Hear Me Out with raising the funds it needs to carry out its work and develop the plans for what it does next. I have a background in the arts, having worked in theatre and literature organisations, but I've always been interested in the relationship between the arts and social justice, and the power and importance that creative ideas have in responding and finding solutions to all kinds of different challenges. Working with Hear Me Out is a brilliant opportunity to support an organisation which does so much to champion the voices that too often go unheard.

Lead Artists

Alexander D Great

I was born in Trinidad and grew up in London from the age of five. On leaving school I became a professional musician, spending a year in the USA playing and arranging with a 50 piece band. I then did a BA in Music at Dartington where I studied composition, cello, flute and sitar, followed by a PGCE at London University. I specialise in Caribbean genres and have led workshops for Hear Me Out for more than ten years. I particularly enjoy it when participants create a song from their own ideas, bringing about a successful outcome in which they all share.

Anna De Mutiis

I am a percussionist, drummer and producer from Italy. After completing my masters in Migration and Diaspora studies at SOAS University of London, I have been facilitating music workshops with charities across the UK, US and Europe, collaborating with migrant communities especially. I focus on using creative arts as a way to improve wellbeing, create connections across barriers and reflect on the complexities of everyday life. I have been delivering workshops for Hear Me Out for more than five years and particularly enjoy delivering community exchanges as a way to connect people beyond walls and borders through words, sounds, rhythms and melodies.

Anusha Subramanyam

My work, whilst rooted in Bharatanatyam, is trans-cultural and intergenerational. Wide ranging performances which are site and theme specific and interact with audiences, feature collaborations with artists from a variety of disciplines: theatre, music, poetry, multimedia and circus. Placing dance in different contexts where it might not traditionally be seen is at the heart of what I do. I have created performance work for hospitals, art galleries, tube stations and schools. I have worked extensively with people with special needs, schools and family groups, exploring issues of culture, religion and identity. In my sessions with Hear Me Out I am reminded of the joy and sense of belonging dance brings.

Camilo Tirado

I have run music workshops in UK immigration detention centres (IDCs) for almost 10 years.  As a descendent of immigrants I know how hard life can be for those fleeing persecution. I am a sound engineer, percussionist and keyboard player and incorporate these different elements into my workshops.  I use the South Asian bhols of tabla to teach rhythmic patterns, which can inspire even the shiest participants to become beatboxers. With longer term projects, such as community exchanges, I use technology to facilitate a musical and cultural dialogue between the detainees and community participants. 

Carol Pemberton MBE

I am the Founder of Black Voices, the UK’s foremost female a cappella quintet. I play a variety of wind instruments but my real passion is the beauty and power of the unaccompanied voice. I am an accomplished choral director and lead the popular Gospel Course at Dartington International Summer School. In 2014 I was awarded an MBE for my services to music. With Hear Me Out I run small group composition and arranging with a diverse mix of participants. I enjoy turning stories into lyrical melodies that provide relief, healing, confidence and a sense of achievement for participants.

CeCelia Wickham Anderson

My love of music began at home where I learned to play the piano and cello. Since then I have been a member of award winning choirs and the UK’s leading female a cappella group, Black Voices. Together, we have performed before former President Nelson Mandela and have appeared with industry giants including Nina Simone and Ray Charles. As professional musicians and scholars, Black Voices undertakes education and outreach programmes from our studio base in Birmingham. We also lead the popular music education workshops in performance and the history of the black oral tradition at the renowned Dartington Summer School

Emmanuel Okine

I am Emmanuel Okine (aka 1U the Magnificent), a professionally trained performing artist with over twenty years experience in providing captivating energetic shows and interactive educational workshops. I am a multi-award winning Ghanaian highlife singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with seven highly acclaimed album releases. My expertise, developed from my childhood in West Africa, includes drumming, dance, acrobatics and circus skills. I aim to inspire and motivate audiences of any size, age, background or ability, enabling them to enhance life skills, such as confidence, communication, creativity, in a fun, friendly and inclusive environment.

Hanif Khan

I have worked in the world of music for around three decades and come from rigorous training in Indian classical music. As a child I learned to play tabla under a traditional approach with my father, an acclaimed artist who worked on All India Radio. I have been fortunate to work in diverse capacities including roles as a performance artist and teacher. I have toured the world playing tabla and percussion for many festivals and events, working both in traditional north Indian music capacities and fusion projects.

Johanne Hudson-Lett

I have spent over 25 years working in the creative arts and media industry and am the Creative Director and founder of Just Purple Presents, a local arts organisation that supports raising the profile of Black ethnic and minority artists, creating local community projects/events and championing the need for accessible arts for all. As a freelance creative, I also work for; Revoluton Arts as a Young People's Producer; Hear Me Out, Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre as a music workshop leader and Faith In Queen's Park as the musical director for Fusion Youth Choir.

Kensaye Russell

I am a Paris born, London based music producer, composer, engineer, percussionist, and workshop facilitator. I have been involved in numerous projects across schools, and refugee initiatives, working primarily with children and young people. My workshops aim to provide a progressive and accessible experience that resonates with the young participants and stimulates their creativity. Music production allows the creation of multiple roles, for those who like being behind the scenes rather than at the forefront. Projects that I have enjoyed most are those with a final project to keep as a memory and as evidence of the hard work.

Kevin Mark Trail

I am a UK singer-songwriter and producer of Caribbean descent and global acclaim. As a vocalist I have contributed to recordings with the likes of Jamie Cullum, Emeli Sande and Kano, and am a long standing member of Mike Skinner’s band The Streets. I have been described as a “musical chameleon”, due to my influences and ability to move between musical genres. I’ve performed across the UK on stages such as London's Ronnie Scotts, The O2 Brixton academy, Wembley Stadium, The Royal Festival Hall, The Albert Hall, and major festivals including Glastonbury.

Martin Hanson

A teacher from Ghana, I have been teaching African arts in schools and colleges for over 25 years. I teach African drumming in all levels of education, including special needs, and have vast experience of working in collaboration with other artists. My experience as a teacher and performing artist enables me to handle any situation I encounter, either in schools or with artists, with diligence. I have been working with Hear Me Out for over 5 years and been running African drumming sessions for them in various detention centres across the country.

Olivia White

I have been working with Hear Me Out since 2015 delivering workshops which combine my knowledge and experience of music and dance hoping to inspire and support others to achieve a creative expressive journey. I began my own journey with a passion for dance, percussion and voice. This developed through studying Hindustani classical music over the past 20 years and founding my own dance classes and workshops through Majenta Dance. I have worked as a shadow artist for arts therapy courses in Sweden with Share Music, as well as additional courses for various councils and arts organisations including Salamanda Tandem.

Oliver Seager

With over 17 years’ experience in music facilitation I have worked with a vast array of people and delivered approximately 300 community projects that have had a direct impact on individuals and groups within the Kent/London community. I use music and songwriting as a vehicle to develop confidence, exploring imagination, helping people believe in dreams, looking inwards at one's identity and discovering life choices. Songwriting is a doorway to help people reflect and find solutions to everyday challenges and it is fun which is beneficial to health and the mental wellbeing for all involved.

Shereece Storrod

I am a singer-songwriter, vocal coach, workshop leader and Artistic Director of acappella quintet, Black Voices. Previously I worked as a singing tutor for over 20 years with Harrow Music Service, nurturing and developing talented young singers across Harrow. I now manage Grosvenor Road Studios and work with the Abram Wilson Foundation as a lead workshop tutor delivering their Achieve Your Greatness programme in schools. I studied Commercial Music at Westminster University and an MMUS in Songwriting from Bath Spa University. In 2020 I was awarded an RSL fellowship in recognition of my contribution to music.

Simon Paylor

My musical experience includes fronting a band, playing and recording bass and guitar, doing vocal sessions for commercial productions, and producing other peoples’ work. I worked at Haslar IRC as a music teacher for eleven years, introducing recording and production as part of the curriculum, and learned much more than I taught about different styles and approaches to music from the detainees themselves. Alongside Hear Me Out, I deliver projects at other IRCs with a focus on songwriting and recording. My experience also includes working with young people and supporting local and international community development with project and programme management.

Téa Hodžić

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia where I trained in classical guitar and opera. At the age of 11 I won the first prize in the National Competition for Classical Guitar in Zagreb. Since then I have made regular appearances on National TV, Radio and theatre. Since living in the UK I have appeared on both television and radio regularly and sang on the soundtrack for Channel 4's award winning series, "Bloody Bosnia". I am also a dedicated educator and work closely with organisations such as Music for Change, Hear Me Out, Serious and Platforma.

Dr H Patten

I am the Artistic Director of Koromanti Arts and ‘H’ Patten Dance Theatre Company and an experienced African and Caribbean arts choreographer, filmmaker, visual artist, performer. A workshop leader for over 35 years, I have worked, researched and trained extensively across Africa and the Caribbean, choreographing and collaborating with many African national dance companies. In 2012 I was awarded the Jamaican High Commission 50th Anniversary Award for services to Arts, Culture and Entertainment. I am a published author and presently am completing an academic monogram based on my doctoral thesis – Dancehall: A Spiritual Corporeal Practice in Jamaican dance.


Sue Lukes


I have been working with refugees since 1976, have managed various housing projects, and am an expert on housing law in relation to migrants and refugees. I have been a consultant, researcher and trainer since 1996, delivering research, training, evaluation and service development work for local authorities, the NHS, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, the Refugee Council and UKBA.I am a founder trustee of Hear Me Out and sit on the board of ARHAG HA. I am a member of the London Mayor’s Housing Equalities Standing Group, convene my synagogue education group and ran the Chile Committee for Justice.

Peter Frankental


I joined Amnesty International in 1998 and am currently the Economic Relations Programme Director. My previous career included six years as a business analyst in the private sector and four years as a project manager within the NHS I have also worked in the field of social regeneration, running capacity-building programmes for community organisations. I have been an adviser to the International Commission of Jurists panel on corporate complicity, and was on the Steering Group of a three-year research project (2004-2007) to develop a methodology for human rights impact assessments and apply it to five case studies of affected communities.

Joanna Ridout


I have over 30 years’ experience in senior venue and company management in independent arts, membership, funding, government and charitable organisations. Freelancing since 2003, my work has included organisational development, business planning, fundraising, facilitation, training and Action Learning with independent arts, charitable, membership, public and local government organisations. Examples include Oily Cart Theatre, Farnham Maltings, Magpie Dance, Unicorn Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Independent Theatre Council, The School for Social Entrepreneurs, Arts Council England and UK Trade & Investment. I've been on Hear Me Out's Board since 2010 and am currently Vice Chair.

Marie-Anne Mackie


After an early career in strategic global account management in the telecoms and IT industries, I now work as an executive coach and writer, fitting that around looking after my young children. I have been actively involved as a supporter, volunteer, staff member and trustee of a number of arts and social change organisations since university, most recently as Managing Director of a homelessness charity. These various roles have given me a wealth of experience in charity governance, financial control, and in HR issues. In addition to being a trustee of Hear Me Out I am a member of its Finance Sub-Committee.

Vebi Kosumi


I migrated to the UK from Kosovo during the dissolution of former Yugoslavia. I have worked with asylum seekers and refugees since 2000. For eight years I was the Director of the Dover Detainee Visitors Group. I have been a Trustee of Hear Me Out since 2006, Consonant since 2015, and Asylum Aid since 2013. I have also been involved with the British Red Cross and Save the Children in a voluntary capacity. I also write Country of Origin Reports for British Courts addressing human rights issues in western Balkans focusing on Albania and Kosovo.

Bridget Rennie


I am Head of Development at Streetwise Opera, an award-winning charity that uses music to help people with experience of homelessness make positive changes in their lives. I am responsible for raising money for the charity across all funding streams, from the public sector, trusts and foundations to individual giving and fundraising events. Through my job and personal experience (I play cellist in an amateur orchestra) I have seen the transformational impact that music-making can have on people’s lives, so when I heard about Hear Me Out, I was keen to help out in whatever way I could.

Dr Kai Syng Tan


I am an artist, consultant, curator, academic and migrant. My work has been featured across institutions such as Tokyo Designers’ Week, Science Museum, and MOMA. I am a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for a new MA/MFA Executive Arts Leadership at Manchester School of Art. I am also Visiting Artist at King's College London, and UK Research and Innovation and Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College Member. In addition, I am Founder and Lead of RUN! RUN! RUN!, Co-Founder of Running Cultures Research Group, Creative and Cultural Consultant of UK Adult ADHD Network, and Advisor to PsychART.

Hannah Wilkinson


I am an award-winning communications specialist, having worked across the arts and charity sectors for over 15 years. Currently part of the senior leadership team at the British Red Cross, I am delivering communication strategies around some of the biggest issues of our time. My career has taken me from conflict in western Africa, to urban water shortages in India, to meeting newly arrived young refugees in Kent, and many other places in between. I'm inspired by the incredible work of Hear Me Out - bringing hope through music and providing a stage on which people can be heard.

Alastair Owen


Clare Scott Booth


Lamin Joof


I am a Gambian national, now married and settled in the UK. I am a singer-songwriter, DJ, event organiser, drummer and music promoter. To me, music is food for the soul. It came to me naturally when I was younger. I had wanted to work in an office but music chose me and I found I was good at it. Music brings me joy and hope in all my life. I was detained in Dover IRC where I met Hear Me Out and recorded two songs. I am now a Trustee at Hear Me Out.

How we spend your money

When you give to Hear Me Out, we promise you that we will use every penny to help make a real difference to the lives of people held in immigration detention centres.

Your money will sing

From professional musicians to run the music sessions, to producing and recording new albums, your money funds everything we need to help people held in immigration detention centres to make music.

Your money will connect

We have a small staff team who work tirelessly to make our mission a reality. Your money will help to pay for them and our lead artists, connecting us with those held in immigration detention. We don’t believe our staff are overheads. No one is an overhead at Hear Me Out.

Your money will amplify

We invest part of your donation into our fundraising and marketing. Last year, we invested £7,000 to raise funds and reach more people like you. People who believed in our work and decided to help. The more support we have, the louder our voice becomes and we can raise more funds to help those trapped inside UK immigration detention.

If you’d like to chat more about how we use your money, please just ask John.

What we stand for

We believe

In the power of music to promote wellbeing and to help people in immigration detention, and the surrounding communities, make their voices heard.

We respect

People of all cultures, backgrounds and beliefs, both inside and outside of detention centres.

We stand

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and are always looking to express this in our work and organisation.

We care

For the mental health of every human being held in a UK detention centre and we’re alive to the realities they face every day.

We create

And innovate as we’re artists ourselves and we know music improves mental wellbeing, finding new ways to help people who are denied a voice.

We’re independent

in everything we do – and we’re always transparent about our beliefs and how we use funding.

Join a chorus of music-lovers bringing refuge and release to immigration detainees

If you love music, you know the power it has. When you’re held in UK immigration detention with no end in sight, music can be the difference between keeping or losing your sanity. By giving the joy of playing and writing music, you help those taken away find refuge, strength and release. An escape from the daily mental torture of being locked up inside. That’s the power of music.

£5 a month could help to pay for 3 people to attend a music session

£5 a month could help to pay for 3 people to attend a music session

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© Hear Me Out 2012—21. All rights reserved.