The Department of Justice’s SEE initiative (2011) sets out the Justice Minister’s 4 year programme for the transformation of the Northern Ireland Prison System. The SEE programme acknowledges the need for alternative pathways to learning:
“Activities such as art and music etc provide the opportunity for disengaged learners and those who are unlikely to achieve academic qualifications to engage in learning activities in a positive way and achieve some success before hopefully progressing to more challenging areas of the curriculum”
Our prison based residency programme enables the full spectrum of prisoners to engage in the arts. We have residences in all three prisons in Northern Ireland
HMP Maghaberry and
Hydebank Wood College.
Our professional artists teach, enthuse and give inspiration to those serving custodial sentences through creative writing, visual art, ceramics and pottery, woodwork and music.
How do we do it?
Our artists take a holistic approach to the provision of these services. The arts are a means to engage in group activity, develop artistically and open paths to potential accreditation. Participation in PAF workshops is often the first step towards a prisoner engaging more widely with formal education and staffs have close links with education and vocational training services in the prisons.
PAF’s work has the potential to have wide ranging effects on prisoners whose lives can be profoundly transformed; on internal relationships within prisons, between prisoners and between prisoners and staff; and externally, between prisoners and their families and communities.
Engaging in the creative arts within a prison environment gives prisoners
the opportunity to develop new skills,
be reflective, with the ability to express themselves outwardly.
and problem solving.
Participating in the arts can play an important role in the rehabilitation of offenders. It is a way of discovering hidden talents, a means of developing that talent and encouraging prisoners to engage with education, training and subsequently employment. Successful rehabilitation consists of helping prisoners to live useful and law-abiding lives in prison and on release. That requires them to take responsibility for their own lives and those of their families. Institutionalisation inevitably removes responsibility; to combat this, it is important that they should be engaged in as many activities as possible that require them to exercise some responsibility. The production of an individual work of art falls into this category by lifting the spirit; it encourages a positive rather than a negative outlook of life, so essential for successful rehabilitation.
Exhibited works raises self-esteem highlighting the ability to do something positive that is valued by piers, families, the public and themselves. This in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the prison. Engaging in external exhibitions both locally and oversees through the Koestler Awards and Listowel’s creative writing competition offers inmates opportunities to have their work acknowledged by a wider audience with a view to sales of work and exposure within the art environment.