Statement on the passing of Create Patron ERwin James

It is with shock and deep sadness that we have learnt that Create’s Patron Erwin James has died.

Erwin has been a Patron of Create since 2007. Across those 17 years, he supported the charity in numerous ways, visiting prison and homelessness projects to meet and inspire our participants (he was affected by both). He interviewed me in 2022 for Inside Time about our My Dad’s in Prison project; and wrote forewords to many of our prison books, most recently the Inside Stories collection that we produced with a group of prisoners for their children in October last year.

In 2017, Erwin attended a Create fundraising event at the Old Bailey. He spoke from the witness stand in Court 1 – the same court where he was handed down a life sentence in 1985 – about the power of the arts to change lives:

“When I was sentenced and taken down to the cells below the court I was pretty sure my life was at an end. It had been a difficult and painful life, for me, but more importantly for other people because of me and I was relieved that it was over. I never expected to live again, not in any meaningful way. I certainly never imagined that one day I might be back in the same dock sharing the journey and explaining how I managed to salvage some good from the wreckage that had been my life before prison.

I’m not proud of much in my life, but I’ve witnessed the work of Create in prisons and in the community and I’m proud and honoured to be a supporter. Experiencing creativity and the arts in prison helped me to find some value in my life and gave me the confidence to try to find a better way to live.”

Erwin made an incredible impact on Create over the years and will be deeply missed.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive