Drawings by Paul Gent


Write to be Heard | Arts and Education Project (March 2013 - March 2014)

Write to be Heard was a prison writing programme with a difference. We wanted to HEAR what was in people’s imagination.
Presenting written work for judgement can be daunting, particularly for those who lack confidence in written English. This is why our focus was on work to be read aloud – hence, Write to be Heard.
We wanted to encourage self-expression, literacy development and a continued interest in learning, especially targeting prisoners who were less likely to engage with education services.


We scheduled 25 writing workshops in prisons that may not have had much opportunity to work with arts organisations in the past. Some workshops were led by high profile writers. These included Alex Wheatle, an ex-prisoner who turned his life around to become an award-winning fiction writer, often chronicling the experiences of marginalised men; Ty, a socially conscious rapper and performance poet and Femi Martin, a flash fiction writer and Young Writer in Residence at the Charles Dickens Museum.

We wanted to inspire different ways to tell stories and help prisoners draw ideas from a range of places. We recruited many writers with fresh ideas and who were new to prison settings – these ranged from William Gallagher, a scriptwriter for Doctor Who audio dramas to Eileen Browne, famous for her picture books, especially ‘Handa’s Surprise’.

Download the workshops schedule (pdf)


For those who couldn't attend, interviews with the writers and extracts from the workshops were broadcast on National Prison Radio in December 2013; five short interviews with participating writers were recorded, ready for broadcast. Additional information has been uploaded on to Virtual Campus as a permanent resource.


The Awards were open for submissions in Autumn 2013 and we encouraged participants to enter under four different categories.

  • Writing for an audience under 10, including poems, song lyrics, stories, modern nursery rhymes or even a short script for a play, TV programme or animation. 
  • Writing with rhythm and rhyme - performance poetry, song lyrics, rap, limericks, odes, sonnets, to name a few.
  • Writing to tell a story - short stories perhaps, including very short ‘flash’ fiction, or a novel, an extract of a novel or a chapter.
  • Writing for more than one voice – such as comedy sketches, stage plays, drama and soap opera scripts.

Please use the links in the menu to visit additional resources that came out of the Write to be Heard project. 

For further information, contact:

Jessica Plant

T. 020 7383 0966

Click here to download the Write to be Heard creative writing exercises