Inside Stories


Radio plays and storybooks made by prisoners as part of our Inside Change and Inside Stories projects have won an incredible 17 Koestler Awards. (This story is from 2018.)

The prizes are awarded by the Koestler Trust, an organisation that awards, exhibits and sells art by prisoners, detainees and secure patients. Since 2012, work made during our projects has been recognised with a total of 81 Koestler Awards. This year is particularly special as, for the first time, one of our award-winning pieces has been selected by the curators of the Koestler Trust exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall.

Of particular note this year are the five accolades for Inside Change. This is a new programme enabling prisoners to explore financial literacy through creating original radio plays. Working with our professional drama artists, prisoners use script writing and drama to develop their financial capability. This aids their rehabilitation and smoother transition back into the community on release. One of the plays, Bars Behind Bars, won the Gold Award in the Radio Play category.

Prisoners use script writing and drama to develop their financial skills. This aids their smoother transition back into the community on release. Government research suggests that low financial literacy is a major barrier to the resettlement of offenders back into communities. Many prisoners and ex-offenders recognise that they have poor money management skills and find it hard to budget. Some reflected that it was hard to learn how to manage money while in prison as everything was provided, so they did not have an opportunity to develop their budgeting skills.

One Inside Change participant told us:

“[Projects] like these make people more aware of financial issues and have the potential to reduce crime by reducing debt. I learnt about high interest loans, to always read the small print, and also about how to stretch money as far as possible and plan my finances.

“Creating the script for the radio play was a new experience – I’d never done a radio play before. The workshops helped me become better at expressing myself and waiting for my turn. As time went on I grew more confident. We all had input and Create’s artists ensured everyone was included. We learnt how to work together and had a laugh recording the play. They’re a good group of boys.

“I’m looking forward to hearing the play on National Prison Radio. It’ll give me bragging rights! I would do this every day. It was the most enjoyable activity I’ve done in prison.

“The workshops helped me become better at expressing myself and waiting for my turn.”

Prisoners produce Koestler-winning illustrated stories for their children

Inside Stories, our programme giving prisoners the opportunity to produce illustrated stories and music for their children, won the remaining 12 awards. Guided by our professional writer, visual artist and musicians, prisoners work in pairs to write, record and illustrate original stories. They then work 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. This helps to maintain the bond between parent and child.

Below, I’m delighted to share one of the winning stories. Kit Cat the Hero Cat won the First-Time Entrant Award in the Graphic Novel category and the Commended Award in the Flash Fiction and Novel category.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive