This year, Inside Stories, our creative project for young parents in prison, was recognised with 18 Koestler Awards.
These prestigious accolades are presented by Koestler Trust, an organisation dedicated to awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients. This year, the Trust received over 8,500 pieces of writing, music, film, fine art and design from prisons across the country, making the achievements of our participants all the more impressive.
Our Inside Stories programme gives offenders aged 18-25 the opportunity to produce illustrated stories and music for their children. Working under the guidance of our professional writer, visual artist and musicians, they work in pairs to write, record and illustrate original stories before working as a group to set these to music. Following their performance in the prison during a special family visit, the children receive a copy of the professionally produced storybook and CD, helping to maintain the bond between parent and child.
The Ministry of Justice has found that sustaining family ties makes it easier for an offender to reintegrate into society and increases their chance of finding a job and stable accommodation once they are released.
One of our participants told us, “I wanted to do Inside Stories because it’s something that could help me feel close to my children. Because I’m in here, I don’t have as much time as I’d like with them. I thought that if they could hear my voice on the CD, maybe they can hear my voice at night time before they go to bed and know that Daddy’s still thinking about them.”
To celebrate these 18 incredible achievements, we are delighted to share The Hat Snatcher, a story written and illustrated by offenders. This was awarded the Gold Award for Mixed Media.
The Hat Snatcher
There was once a man called Peter who lived in the forest with his little boy Jimmy. Peter owned a hat shop, with hats of all shapes and sizes. Not far from them, there lived a bear called Barry. Jimmy and Barry were friends. One day, Jimmy visited Barry and noticed Barry’s hat collection.
Jimmy said, “Where did you get those hats from?”
Barry replied, “I found them scattered around the forest.”
“My dad has hats like those.”
“Does he want them back?”
“No, it’s fine Barry.”
When Jimmy got home, Peter was really angry because his hats had been stolen.
“Barry found lots of hats around the forest, dad.”
Peter replied, “I’ll teach that bear for stealing my hats!”
That night Jimmy was woken by a loud howl. He looked out of his window and noticed his dad had changed into a big, hairy wolf and had loads of hats in his teeth! He then ran into the forest dropping them everywhere! Peter returned with a hat on his head, he got into bed and little Jimmy said, “You’re the hat snatcher, not Barry! You need to say sorry.”
So off to Barry’s they went and partied into the night. Oh what a great sight!