Category Archives: Vox Liminis

UNBOUND: Where the Wild Things Are

For those of you who don’t know, UNBOUND is our Tuesday night creative community, made up of people who we’ve worked with either inside or outside of prison, from a range of different backgrounds, or folks from the local area who are just curious about what we do. Every week we get together, share a meal and then make some art or music. Or just play table tennis!

Now that we’re happily settled into our new home in the Barras, we thought we’d share a few photos and a song with you, to give you a sense of what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks! jumping off from the theme of ‘Wild Lives’, we’ve worked together to make some inspiring new things.

Sandy cooking up a storm!

‘Island of Dreams’ was a collaboration between Graeme Strachan, Fergus McNeill, Heather Irvine and Hannah Graham.

Of the writing process, Fergus said:

‘Graeme wrote all the words: I just helped shape the metre to work with the tune. In terms of the music, we talked about a few styles and Graeme settled on folk — hence the DADGAD tuning — not quite sure where the tune came from, except that it was inspired by the determination and dignity represented in the words, which gives it the slightly anthemic feel (I think). Initially, we worked on the tune together — and once I had worked it up a bit — we asked the others for help with the arrangement.

Listen in below:


Unbound has often been a space for making art and other bits and pieces as well as music. Recently, we teamed up with Charlotte Duffy from the wonderful ‘Waste of Paint’ productions.

Equipped with cardboard, glue guns and a fresh sense of what is possible with Amazon packaging, we created a world stuffed full of trees, eagles, highland cows and guitars. If you’re in the neighbourhood, pop in and see them for yourself!

We’re dead chuffed about how Unbound fits so well in our new home, and we’re excited about the opportunities for development that exist there – a huge thank you again to those of you who helped make the move happen through the Open Doors campaign. Watch this space for more updates over the next few months. . . .

From Benefits to Poverty to Crime: Time for a new approach

A guest blog post by Graeme Strachan, a member of our Tuesday night ‘Unbound’ group.

A still from Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake', an uncompromising examination of the current benefits system and it's impact on people's lives

Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ takes an uncompromising look of the injustices of the current benefits system

Visiting the job centre has become an unpleasant parody of community service. This is a by-product of our benefits system that was set up to look after those in need but has been utilised by the government to penalise and criminalise the weakest in society. This article will discuss how this works and what we can do to change it for the better.

Our current benefits system is based around “conditionality”. Conditionality is where you are required to do exactly what the government or advisor tell you or you will lose your benefit. This is where sanctions come in to play. Sanctions are used to psychologically and socially criminalise the poor, sick and unemployed. Incredible amounts of unreasonable pressure and stress are placed upon those who are already the weakest in society.

Sanctions can hold more financial weight than that placed by a criminal court for example. They are imposed by people with no duty of care or legal standing. They leave claimants with no option but to use food banks and in many cases criminalise themselves to find money to simply live on. These circumstances are fertilised by conditionality, which in itself breaches the UN convention on human rights, some argue. Sanctions do not work. They take people further away from work and into poverty, leaving them with no choice but to find other ways to survive.

This clearly hits one parent families the hardest. Looking after a child or children while being forced to undertake conditionality to survive is bordering on medieval. OPF have other priorities; in this case conditionality interferes with their duty of care for their children, another factor contravening the UN charter. This clearly leaves an unregulated system with unqualified personnel making decisions that leave families and children living in poverty due to sanctions.

Advisors hold the lives of people in their hands and are not scrutinised in any legal capacity. Some for example will be happy to work round parent’s commitments to their children; others will not, leaving parents suffering sanctions for not turning up for appointments. The other option is where parents have been forced frequently to leave young children standing at the job centre door or on the street. This is quite simply unacceptable. Refusing to work for free, disagreeing with advisors, homelessness issues, and being a few minutes late for appointments are just a few commonplace examples of other situations that can leave OPF facing sanctions.

We can change this – there are other alternatives. Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Finland and Denmark for example have higher benefit rates and a lower crime rates. The one common theme that keeps occurring is to implement a Universal Basic Income. Scotland is now looking at bold decisions by those in government to address this situation.

An income that every citizen would receive – no matter what their employment status – would guarantee them a means to live. This is in contrast to the current system, in which individuals and families, stripped of their confidence and dignity, struggle simply to survive. If we wish to eradicate poverty and lower crime rates, we must not push the weakest in society into poverty through conditionality and sanctions for simply being poor, unemployed, sick and trying to survive. We must look to build confidence and instil a desire to succeed rather than fear of losing everything, which understandably drives people to survive by any means.

For more on Universal Basic Income, see this recent TED talk by Jamie Cooke, head of RSA Scotland. 

Things Left Unsaid – EP Launch & Event – 23 / 05 / 17


Photo: Andrew Downie
This week sees the release of our new EP ‘Things Left Unsaid’, at an event in St George’s Tron Church, Buchanan St, Glasgow, on 23rd May 2017, 6pm – 8pm.

‘Things Left Unsaid’ is the result of six-months of workshops exploring community justice and what it means for women in Scotland. We were lucky enough to bring together a remarkable cross-section of women, from prison governors and retired judges to service managers and women who’ve been sentenced. These women then joined forces with some of Scotland’s best songwriters to see how making music could help them tell their stories.

Musicians on the project have included Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Donna Maciocia, Lucy Cathcart Frödén and Ross Clark (Three Blind Wolves), all of whom will be performing at the event on 23rd.

There are big changes taking place in the way that community and custodial sentences are being handled for women in Scotland. This project gave women who have experienced that system a chance to tell their stories.

We are inviting anyone who comes to the EP launch to add their voice to the discussion of community justice in Scotland, by responding creatively to the songs that are performed. There will be a series of interactive art installations based on songs, lyrics and ideas developed within the workshops.

Award winning radio producer Steve Urquhart has also produced a podcast based on the project, which you can listen to below:

Things Left Unsaid was commissioned by Glasgow Community Justice Authority, in collaboration with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, the Scottish Prison Service, and Creative Scotland. It is also part of our wider project, ‘Distant Voices’, which you can learn more about HERE.

This event is free. If you’re interested, please sign up HERE

Facebook event HERE

From 23/05/17 the ‘Things Left Unsaid’ EP will be available HERE


Photo: Andrew Downie

All who attended the event have been sent a password to download the EP songs. Please click here to download your songs: