Creative Aid

A co-creation project with care-experienced young men in Deerbolt Prison, supporting the young men to be recognised as artists.

"...[Art is] helping you talk when no-one else is around. It's an expression in many ways..."

Young man who is serving a sentence at Deerbolt Prison

Care leavers are over-represented in the prison population; one third of the prison population in Deerbolt Prison, County Durham, are care-experienced.

Being creative has been shown to improve safety and wellbeing in prisons, and help people in prison build relationships with family members (Creativity in a Restricted Regime, National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance)

During COVID-19, Blue Cabin and Nepacs (a charity which promotes a positive future for prisoners, offenders and their relatives) co-funded a creative consultation process with 12 young men at Deerbolt Prison called Creative Aid.

The aim was to find out what impact being creative has on their lives, and discover what they would like to achieve through creative activities longer term.

The overall vision of the programme is to support the young men to be recognised as artists and feel a sense of belonging in society.

What did young men at Deerbolt Prison tell us?

[I would like to do] meaningful drawing. Things that I’ve gone through and faced.

Associate Artist, Nicola Golightly, designed a set of creative activities, along with a ‘non-questionnaire’ for the young men to respond to. The young men want Creative Aid:

·        To support them to develop their confidence and sense of pride

·        To support wellbeing and emotional literacy

·        To develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of the arts

·        To enable them to achieve a qualification

They would also like the programme to help them to explore their life stories and develop their relationships with others, including family members and peers in Deerbolt. They’d like opportunities to co-create work for exhibitions, performances and screenings and they want to be able to gift some of the things they create to others.

Life is art, just expressing yourself in any kind of platform.

What’s next?

As a result of what the young men told us, Blue Cabin is currently seeking funding for a three-year Creative Aid co-creation programme which we will co-deliver with Nepacs.

Email if you’d like to discuss Creative Aid with us. 

Project Partner