Cubitt Street Only Connect

Only Connect: singing and rapping back into society

The King’s Cross crew investing in crime-free lives

Trays of canapes glide through the crowd gathering inside Cubitt Street’s Grade II-listed former Baptist chapel. An array of jolly festoon lightbulbs and exposed floorboards create an instant winter-warming atmosphere, before a flautist appears high up on the balcony, signifying that tonight’s proceedings are about to begin.

However, this isn’t your average musical recital in impressive historic surrounds. It’s the culmination of six month’s work for a group of men and women emerging from the prison system, taking place at the home of the charity that’s helping them move on: Only Connect.

As the evening progresses, talented multi-instrumentalists, verbally-dexterous rappers and heart-stirring singers will all take to the stage, many for the first time in front of an audience. Under the guidance of tutors, including the enthusiastic Tim Titsworth, who hosts the night, they have graduated from courses run by the charity and further one-to-one support. The aim is to build strong relationships, as well as nurture talent and creativity.

Watch some highlights from the show here:

“When we first started back in 2006, Only Connect was really a theatre company taking men and women coming out of prison and writing and producing plays,” charity CEO Simon Pellew OBE explains.

“This was great work, but very hard to sustain financially. So over the years, we have put greater focus on one-to-one key working, which means we can work with more people – now about 360 a year.”

Simon Pellew has overseen these changes, which nevertheless still results in stage performances like tonight’s alongside helping members find jobs, and still always with the primary objective of building meaningful, human connections.

“I’ve broadened the approach, particularly through a course called Love and Money,” he says, “which is about relationships, the meaning of money and its impact on the motivation to crime, and, in a couple, deciding how to handle money together. It’s been a great course, leading to some serious and important conversations. Over the next year, we will expand our work into HMP Wormwood Scrubs and run more courses. Hopefully, this will lead to even more people leading crime-free lives.”

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The charity is supported in part by the Only Connect co-working and event space (yes, in the lovely, listed chapel in central King’s Cross), where 100% of the revenue goes towards the good work.
Find out more here.

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