Our Inside Stories project has been recognised with 12 Koestler Awards. These prestigious accolades acknowledge the creative achievements of offenders, secure patients and detainees, providing encouragement, motivation and an outlet for creative energies and emotions. For the past ten years, we have worked with prisons in London and Kent to provide offenders with access to high quality creative activities. We developed Inside Stories in 2008 to reach out to fathers aged 18-25, enabling them to develop new skills and build positive relationships with their children. Working with our professional artists, they write, record and illustrate their own original stories, which they set to music. The children then receive a professionally-printed storybook with CD.
One of the challenges that prisoners face is the re-adjustment to life outside the prison when they are released. This can influence the likelihood of reoffending. Inside Stories helps to address this by encouraging fathers to bond with their sons and daughters over a creative work that they have had the discipline, concentration and commitment to produce. The offenders gain confidence in their abilities to create something positive and they can focus on being a parent. They also learn skills in storytelling, craft and music that they can share with their children. Ministry of Justice research suggests that maintaining family ties can reduce the risk of re-offending by 39%, so being able to continue this work is highly important. We’re delighted that the Koestler Awards have recognised the quality of our work in prisons. The inmates work has won 12 awards in four categories: Spoken Text; Anthology; Instrumental Music (a key achievement, as this is a new element of the project); and Mixed Media, with The Royal Family and The Miserable Witch, Stories From Dads To Kids,and Farmyard Party receiving Highly Commended Awards.
Inside Stories means a lot to the children of these prisoners. 1 in 100 children in the EU experience a parent being taken to prison, which can have a devastating impact on their education, relationship with their peer group, and general wellbeing. This project is a way in which these vulnerable children can get to know their parents with the focus being away from their conviction. It’s a way in which these parents can show that they care. As our Patron Esther Freud wrote in the foreword to one of the books: “To have a story, a poem or a song written for you, inspired by you, event about you, is one of the greatest gifts a child can received. Every child hopes that they are special, and when the children of the young men who wrote these stories – children separated from their fathers by prison – see their names, they will know for certain that they are.” Nicky Goulder, Chief Executive