The last 12 months of One Spirit activities have been very successful. The project has engaged over 200 young people/adults, delivering residencies in HMPs Aylesbury and Highdown and HMYOIs Feltham and Cookham Wood, and continues to work with young people/adults in the community in West, East and South London offering them further opportunities to increase their musical skills and get help and support with resettlement.
Working in custody, in general, has become more challenging over the last 12 plus months due to a number of factors: the shortages in prison staff across the whole sector has made the environment more volatile with increased security issues; the number of young people/adults in prison for violent crimes has risen, increasing the risk of violence within prisons themselves; and amidst the ever increasing need for education providers to succeed in the pay by results format OS has had to work harder to keep a space for arts based work.
A significant achievement for OS at HMYOI Feltham has been securing a separate workshop space in which to deliver its projects. It took almost 6 months, along with additional training, for OS to get the NVQ Hut in Feltham’s workshops area. The move has proved to be very successful and provided learners with a much calmer environment in which to work, and the participants have appreciated this; one young person commented “the environment was very calm and I felt I was able to be myself”. The quality of work, depth of engagement and general behaviour has increased and this has had a clear benefit for all participants. Another young person, frequently involved in fights with other yps, commented “There’s no point getting involved in stupid fights because if I do they won’t bring me down to you in the Hut”.
Projects at HMYOI Cookham Wood have continued to yield great results, with some participants winning Koestler Awards for their work. At HMP Highdown and Aylesbury OS has helped participants to apply entrepreneurial thinking to their musical work and enabled participants to make sense of what they can do with their musical skills once they leave custody.
93% of all OS participants in custody declared they felt better about the future after working with OS; 71% admitted feeling more motivated and self disciplined; 98% declared they felt generally more confident in themselves after working with OS. Of those who highlighted issues with anger and frustration 100% declared that working on the project had helped them to cope with these issues.
“I enjoyed working with the Hackney Music staff as they taught me a lot and helped me develop as a person”.
In the community OS has worked with a range of young people/adults on release, 31 in total, whose needs and progression varies enormously. One young person is about to complete a university degree and go into event management, some are finding their feet in the world of employment or further education and some are still struggling to avoid the influences and pitfalls that led them to prison in the first place. 84% of those on the Through the Gate program have not reoffended in 1+ year of release, 63% are in full or part time employment, 32% are in or have recently completed college/FE.
Article: Charlie Parker, Project Manager, One Spirit
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