Image made by creative prisoners

Storybooks and their accompanying musical tracks made by creative prisoners during our Inside Stories project have been recognised with an impressive 14 Koestler Awards.

Image made creative prisoners

The prizes are awarded by Koestler Arts, a charity dedicated to awarding, exhibiting and selling artwork by prisoners, detainees and secure patients. Since 2012, work made during our prison projects has been recognised with a total of 95 Koestler Awards, with one of our 2018 award-winning pieces being selected for the prestigious Koestler Arts exhibition at the Southbank Centre.

Our Inside Stories programme gives these creative prisoners 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, which they then set to music in groups. The project enables them to build creativity, teamwork and communication skills and arts skills that they can use with their children during prison visits and on release.

Following their fathers’ 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, and enabling them to have a very personal part of their Dad at home.

“This project has helped my partner, children and parents feel more relaxed and positive about my time in prison.” 

The Ministry of Justice has found that sustaining family ties makes it easier for prisoners to reintegrate into society and increases their chance of finding a job and stable accommodation once they are released. One of the prisoners who took part told us:

“I thought Inside Stories would be a good opportunity to do something to show my family I am thinking about them all the time and being productive with my time in prison. I hope when my girl sees this book it’ll make her think I can be a good dad. I think my family feel proud of me for doing this.

This project has helped my partner, children and parents feel more relaxed and positive about my time in prison. It helps them think about me being productive, becoming a good man. Maybe in the past I wouldn’t have done something nice like this for my loved ones, so it helps me show them how much I care for them.”

Below, I’m delighted to share one of the winning stories, The Lion and The Hen from the Collection Daddy’s Little Stories, which itself won a First Time Entrant award in the Anthology category.

“I hope when my girl sees this book it’ll make her think I can be a good dad.”

This fantastic achievement at the Koestler Awards is a reflection of the creativity, dedication and passion put into Inside Stories by the prisoners who created them for their children under the guidance of our artists. The success of this projects demonstrates the value of giving prisoners opportunities to express themselves creatively and connect with the outside world.

You can visit Another Me, this year’s Koestler Arts exhibition, at the Southbank Centre from 19 September – 3 November 2019. 

Read our interview with Andrew Wilkie, Director of Radio at the Prison Radio Association, here

Nicky Goulder, Chief Executive

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