Write to be Heard: supporting offender learning through creative writing
The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s creative writing programme ‘Write to be Heard’ aimed to encourage hard-to-reach offenders to engage with education and arts opportunities in prison. The project encompassed a national creative writing competition, a schedule of creative writing workshops and master-classes, and a series of programmes broadcast on National Prison Radio.
Over 250 prisoners took part in the workshops, of which 82% said the workshop made them think differently about themselves. Hundreds more prisoners and ex-offenders took part by: entering the awards, contributing to radio shows, developing Virtual Campus content and benefitting from the creative radio shows broadcast across the prison estate.
The resulting evaluation report explores the perspective of prisoners, participating arts organisations and competition entrants to highlight the links between creative writing and literacy, numeracy and desistance factors. The report shows impressive results and finds that creative workshops are a catalyst for change and can offer a pathway into engagement with more formal learning opportunities.
The project was funded by a National Offender Management Services (NOMS) grant and was delivered in partnership with the Prison Radio Association, Geese Theatre Company and the Virtual Campus developed Meganexus. The final report was co-written by the Institute of Education.