THE power of music has brought two unlikely groups together for a memorable first-time performance.

Songs co-written by service users of Oxfordshire Mind's day centre The Mill and detainees at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre were performed on Wednesday.

Over the course of 12 workshops last month, the two groups not only swapped recordings of music and lyrics but also their own personal stories with each other.

Mark Jackson, who lives in Headington, has used the services at The Mill for two and a half years.

The 40-year-old, who is keen to start a new music group with other service users, said the programme was a 'constructive distraction'.

He said: "Taking part in a group like this, it has helped me get out of the house and it keeps my mind on more positive things and I am sure that is the same for many other people in the group.

"I do not have a favourite song out of the four we wrote, but one is called 'Condensation' and I like the chord progression in it."

Professional musicians Oliver Seager and Sophia Ripley, from the national charity Music In Detention (MID), led a series of separate sessions with each group.

Mr Seager said that one of the first themes to emerge out of the workshops was 'home' and living without somewhere to call home.

He added: "It helped establish empathy between the two groups.

"Some of the group from Oxfordshire Mind said they felt like they did not have a home as they had been in hospital most of their life.

"Over at Campsfield House, where detainees do not know how long they will be held or where home will be afterwards, on hearing the word 'home' the room just went silent."

John Speyer, who has been MID's director for nine years, said it had been 'amazing' to see both groups find so much common ground.

He added: "I've joined in some of the workshops and it’s been amazing to see the power of the connection between these two groups.

"They really appreciate that other people with problems of their own are sympathetic to their difficulties.

"Lyrics like 'I want to be free' and 'Don’t give up hope' resonate with all of the participants.

"We hear so much negative news these days about migration, but a project like this shows how much people have in common.

"I think my favourite song is 'life is not over' because it is a really simple but powerful message."

The charity is looking for other Oxfordshire groups who work with people with mental health issues to get involved in similar projects.

For more information contact Liza Figueroa-Clark on: 020 7014 2811.