Logo for Creative Aid: creative project for care-experienced people in prison

Funding awarded for creative programme with care-leavers at Deerbolt Prison

Blue Cabin and Nepacs have been awarded funding to deliver a creative arts programme with care-experienced young men serving sentences at Deerbolt Prison in County Durham.

The Creative Aid project has received £267,307 from The National Lottery Community Fund, Reaching Communities Programme.

Jenny Young, Director of Blue Cabin, explained: “We know that care leavers are over-represented in the prison population; one third of the prison population in Deerbolt are care-experienced. We also know that arts participation has been shown to have a positive impact on rehabilitation and relationships within the criminal justice system.

“That’s why we’re working with Nepacs to support these young men into a long term creative programme with the chance to work towards an arts-related qualification.” 

Creative Aid is a three-year project and will include artist-led workshops and support for participants, who are all aged between 16 and 24, to achieve an Arts Award accreditation.

The project aims to support the young men to build stronger relationships with each other, their families and prison staff, and to give them a better chance of a positive future on release from prison.

Jenny Young added: “This programme aims to increase these young men’s education and employment opportunities in the future by supporting participants to reach their full potential and look towards a positive future – benefiting not only the individuals involved but also their families and wider society.”

Blue Cabin specialises in using creativity to help care-experienced children and young people to build stronger relationships and improve their lives.

Nepacs is a long-standing North East charity which aims to promote a positive future for people who have been affected by adverse situations in their lives. They work with families, young people and children, as well as those affected by the criminal justice system.

Dawn Simpson, Nepacs resettlement manager, said: “Our team in HMP Deerbolt are very excited to be with Blue Cabin on this innovative new project, which will help build on the fantastic support we already provide to care-experienced young men in custody and on release.

“We know that an arts-based approach can be transformative for the young men, giving them a range of ways to express themselves, and we hope it will have a positive impact on their relationships and their chance of having a successful resettlement following release from prison.”

The project builds on an earlier consultation which was carried out with care-experienced young men at Deerbolt Prison, who said that they would like the programme to help them explore their life stories and develop their relationships with others, including family members and peers in Deerbolt. They also said they would like opportunities to co-create work for exhibitions, performances and screenings and that they want to be able to gift some of the things they create to others.

Creative Aid has received £267,307 over three years from The National Lottery Community Fund, Reaching Communities Programme.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. The National Lottery Community Fund distributes a share of this to projects to support people and communities to prosper and thrive.

During the pandemic, in 2020 alone, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed almost £1 billion to charities and community organisations across the UK. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk.

Find out more about the Creative Aid project here.