In 2021 we collaborated with HMP Huntercombe, one of only two prisons in the country with the sole purpose of holding convicted foreign national men. The prison contacted us, partly on the back of an inspection report which highlighted that a number of the prisoners, particularly the younger, Black and minority ethnic men, felt ‘unsafe’.
In our collaboration, we worked with prison staff and some of the men to create a training package for staff to explore the men’s experiences of racism, and interrogate some of the issues men were experiecing, as well as the cultural barriers that exist between groups. After having recently signed up to the More Than a Moment Pledge, this work provided us with an opportunity to speak with young Black men in prison and support them to share their experiences of racism in a foreign national prison.
The project generated significant conversation and provoked debate within the establishment about issues of racism and, whilst solving the issue was clearly beyond the scope of the project, this has provided the prison with a firm foundation on which to build future initiatives.
In 2023 Senior Practitioners, Daniel and Liz, were invited back to deliver a new creative project to explore staff/prisoner relationships on a wider basis. Creative projects allow participants to explore relevant themes through a groupwork process overlaid with a theatre devising process. Daniel and Liz spent 2 days with staff for research and development and to hear their perspectives. They then spent the following 9 days with a group of men to create a performance. A film of the performance will be used as a training and development tool for prison staff.
“These were clearly uncomfortable conversations for the prison to enter into and ask outsiders to help them explore. However, they were committed to doing both these pieces of work and their understanding of the importance of hearing the voices of those involved enabled us to gather insight and create something meaningful for both prisoners and staff.”– Liz, Senior Practitioner, Geese
“It felt great working with officers and inmates. It’s a great example of coming together for a common goal.”– Participant