News: Other Arts in CJS News

News and Information from the Arts in Criminal Justice Sector

Keshena Bowie

There has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks about prison, prison education, and the role of the arts in society so we thought it might be useful to try to summarise a little of what has been happening:

 

  • The prison reform agenda, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech, has created six new “reform prisons”. In essence the Governors of these prisons are being given greater autonomy, and therefore responsibility, to decide what happens within their establishments. This includes having greater control over budgets and the ability to decide on a local level how to best deliver services which aid the education and rehabilitative processes. We would anticipate that this agenda will continue over the coming months and years and expect to see other prison governors also being granted greater autonomy.

 

  • Alongside the prison reform agenda, last week also saw the launch of Dame Sally Coates’ review into prisoner education, Unlocking Potential. This is being seen as a long-overdue rethinking about the way in which education is provided within secure establishments. The foreword to this important review includes the sentence, “… should include greater provision of high quality arts provision…” and goes on to argue for a greater role for the arts within custodial settings.

 

  • Earlier this year the Arts and Humanities Research Council published Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture by Geoffrey Crossick & Patrycja Kaszynska. This high profile analysis includes many references to the role of the arts in criminal justice settings, in particular reference to developing the reflective individual: “The arts typically leave ambiguities and silences, allowing individuals to create their own responses and understanding, helped by the arts practitioners’ open, collaborative style. In a criminal justice world where there is little room for uncertainty, this can be very powerful.” Geese’s work is also referenced a number of times in this report.

 

  • DCMS’ The Culture White Paper, also contains reference to and case studies about the role of arts in CJS settings: “There are also many good examples of how cultural interventions can benefit prisoners, ex-offenders and people at risk of becoming involved in crime. Culture can help to improve self-esteem, social skills and wellbeing: all of which helps to reduce the risk of offending and re-offending and make our communities safer. We will work with Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners to ensure that offenders and those at risk continue to benefit from cultural opportunities.” This statement was re-enforced by Ed Vaizey at a recent National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice event in which he spoke at length about the value that both he and Michael Gove place on access to the arts for those who are in prison. 

 

So a shifting landscape in which we deliver our work and we are cautiously optimistic that all of the above might mean that we are able to deliver more work in custodial settings. Obviously this is all dependent on decisions makers understanding and valuing the role that the arts can play in the desistance process and being willing to provide spaces within their establishments in which creativity can flourish.

We look forward to seeing how the conversation develops in the coming months.

Geese collaborate with Professor Harry Ferguson

Keshena Bowie

Knocking on the Door

The Home Visit and Social Work Practice

Bringing research, theory and practice to life with Geese and leading social work academic and author, Professor Harry Ferguson

We have teamed up with Professor Harry Ferguson to deliver this training event, which will merge a traditional key-note lecture with vivid theatre performances to create an informative, memorable and enjoyable opportunity for learning.

“Little attention is given to... the practice of home visiting and the emotions and challenges of accessing children it gives rise to. Although it is the methodology through which most child protection goes on, the home visit is virtually ignored…” This training will seek to redress that by placing the home visit at the centre of child protection practice. In more detail it will explore:

  • the lived experience of delivering practice in people’s most personal spaces 
  • negotiating the private areas of a family’s life – their home, bedroom, emotional world 
  • the use of movement and the importance of touch
  • working with carers / parents who are resistant, aggressive or deceitful
  • spaces for reflection and organisational support

The aim of the training will be to provide a stimulating and safe environment in which delegates will have the opportunity to reflect upon some of the key practice challenges involved in protecting children and will draw upon Harry Ferguson’s seminal text Child Protection Practice “A must read for students, social workers and other professions involved in the protection of children.”

Harry Ferguson is Professor of Social Work at the University of Nottingham. A qualified social worker, he has been conducting empirical studies into social work practice since the early 1990s. His research seeks to illuminate the world of practice, the complex relationships that exist between social workers and service users and the impact of interventions. He recently completed a major study of social work practice and child protection that involved observation of practitioners as they engaged in face to face work with children and parents, mainly on home visits, with the aim of increasing understandings of how best to protect and promote the well-being of children and help parents and other carers. Out of this he has developed publications and presentations on the lived experience of social work on home visits and complexities of how social workers sometimes do not engage effectively with children and parents and the skilled creative work that is involved when they (frequently) do.

Knocking on the Door can be adapted to a half or full day training and would include the following:

  • An interactive theatre performance by Geese
  • Keynote presentation from Harry Ferguson
  • Vignettes to accompany the keynote and illustrate the key learning points

To book or for further information, please contact us at info@geese.co.uk

Write to be Heard Evaluation Report published

Andy Watson

In the summer of 2013 Geese were the workshop delivery partner on a NOMS funded initiative entitled Write to be Heard. The objectives of the project were to encourage hard-to-reach offenders to engage with education and arts opportunities in prisons and the project had a number of key strands, including a writing competition, programmes broadcast on the National Prison Radio network, and a series of 28 workshops, in 28 prisons, which were co-delivered by Geese working alongside 10 writers knew to working in prison environments. The project was evaluated by the Institute of Education and the final report has just been published. Download a pdf of the report here.

A quick quote from a member of prison staff involved in organising one of the workshops to whet your appetite:

Sometimes... I wonder what I'm doing in prison education. Today's event reminded me... If there were ever evidence of the method of delivery for engagement and learning: it was provided today.