‘Stephen’ is coming to the end of a lengthy sentence at HMP Lewes. His life has been blighted by crime, mental health issues and drug addiction, but fears of an uncertain future upon release have been allayed thanks to a life-changing introduction to art.
Despite having no experience of art in a professional or educational capacity before embarking on his studies with Novus, Stephen soon fell in love with the subject and has since gone on to win awards for his work.
As he prepares to continue his education and pursue a career after release, his confident, self-assured and positive demeanour is a far cry from the man who worried his dyslexia could scupper his chances of developing employable skills.
Stephen took great strength from seeing the fruits of his labour and became determined to overcome his difficulties.
Stephen has gained qualifications through City and Guilds, including a Level 1 certificate in Creative Techniques and two Creative Techniques certifications in 2D and 3D work. He has also been working towards studying Law through the Open University. He completed the Learning Champion course and has supported Tutors and staff in the workshop, preparing resources and helping offenders with different aspects of the course.
He has been of particular assistance to offenders for whom English is not their first language, and those who struggle with practical skills. Stephen is volunteering through organisations and, with the support of Tutors, has applied for a mentoring scheme through the Koestler Trust, an art charity that awards, exhibits and sells work by offenders.
He is pursuing a career in art, which is a direct result of his engagement with the subject in prison. He is now a very confident person who is proactive and able to support himself.