THE ONE SPIRIT PROJECT
One Spirit started its work in custody with residencies in HMOI Feltham, using the arts to build confidence, engage with learning and reduce reoffending. Following the introduction of 1:1 mentoring the following year, since 2013 it has delivered in-custody projects and mentoring alongside mentoring on release to support transition into the community, to over 1000 participants in and from HMYOIs Feltham, Cookham Wood, HMPs Aylesbury, Woodhill and Highdown, and Oakhill STC.
Its 3 core aims are to help participants improve their:
- self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and mental health;
- engagement with learning;
- behaviour and to desist from re-offending with 86% of participants having not reoffended over the past 10 years
It achieves this through an alternative curriculum based around creative arts and entrepreneurial activities, which help participants develop and improve their personal, inter-personal, functional and employability skills whilst embedding a philosophy of life-long learning. It is led by all guided and supported by OS’s delivery team of artist/educator facilitators, who also work as the project intervention and resettlement coaches, and who all have their own track records of experience and success both in education and the creative industries.
One Spirit focuses on 3 main activities:
In custody residencies. Short, intensive, small group projects delivering personal development and employment training through a framework of music, creative arts and music business study. Participants are introduced to technical music making (audio production, including recording, engineering and mixing, lyric/song writing, composition and arrangement, instrumental tuition); personal development activities (e.g. drama games, teamwork challenges, working alone/in groups, assessing their own and each other’s work, leadership, conflict resolution); SME (basic finance & budget management, people management, entrepreneurship, business structure, marketing and promotion). Projects conclude with a sharing/performance/presentation, where possible, staged in a Dragon’s Den style with tutors and staff acting as the panel. Outputs include: the creation of original music and songs (often made to a ‘theme of the week’), pre-recorded radio broadcasts that include music mix, advert, interviews etc; business and marketing plan; advertising materials (logos, t-shirt designs etc). Achieving these outputs hits accreditation targets set by prison education providers and where relevant these are integrated into prison Pathway courses.
1:1 Mentoring sessions in custody: having built up trust in residencies facilitators hold 1:1 sessions using music-making as above, to continue developing life-skills and build up personal and social outcomes. These sessions involve further technical musical tuition in areas of the participant’s interest, as well as future planning, career guidance and general pastoral support which serve as the foundation for a productive support relationship beyond custody.
1:1 Resettlement/mentoring Support – ‘through the gate’: once released, participants will continue working with their coach with regular 1:1 meetings, progressing their personal goals, improving technical skills in a chosen musical area (composition, tech, lyrics, business) and receiving life-skills guidance towards education and employment opportunities or simply more pastoral, resettlement support. HMDT partner-relationships (YOT/probation and 3rd sector organisations enable a strong referral network for wider progression opportunities. This service is offered for as long as needed and participants often return for sessions after a long gap when circumstances change, when no other support is available.
One Spirit is grateful to the following Funders for supporting its work: