“To ride out the bad times, where words can’t explain how you feel art can… it might prove to be my salvation.” – Prisoner at HMP Stafford.
These were just a few of the touching words we heard yesterday, where the panel who work closely with inmates from both HMP Leicester and Stafford spoke about the positive effects the Talent Unlocked programme has.
Talent Unlocked works with inmates to create art in all forms, helping to develop transferable work skills and improving prisoners' their mental health.
Panel members expressed the importance of the rehabilitation process within the prison, so these men can willingly re-join society with a different frame of mind, and how this programme aids that process.
It was inspiring to see the passion of the panel members who have gained support from funding bodies and prison governors so that an arts festival can take place in prisons.
A survey of the men attending events showed that they went from feeling “bored”, “fed up” and “nervous” beforehand while afterwards they felt “encouraged”, “alive” and “very happy.” Jacqui Norton, from DMU Arts and Festivals Management team, says these are “key reasons we must keep going.”
In HMP Stafford, where the average stay is 10 years and the suicide and self-harm rates are very high, a prisoner said, “Art has been an opportunity to rebuild… to believe in myself again, given me hope for life beyond the gates.”
I commend the third-year students for organising this festival and including this important event.