At Novus, we’re a sum of all our moving parts. Our work in reducing reoffending rates couldn’t be done without supporting and nurturing the talent and passion that we have amongst our colleagues. On our team are countless subject area experts who have dedicated their lives to prison education.
Sarah Hartley, National Lead for Creative Arts and Enrichment, shares her thoughts and aspirations on being offered co-chair of the National Criminal Justice Alliance (NCJAA):
I have worked in prison education for the last 16 years, where I have focused on advocating new approaches to delivery of education for the benefit of people in prison. My background is in teaching, with an MA in Socially Engaged Art, and in my time with Novus I have looked for innovative ways of engaging our learners in creative enrichment activities.
I am passionate about the work the NCJAA does, and I feel the opportunity of co-chair will allow me to further champion the arts. I know first-hand the value that creativite opportunities have for individuals in custody.
I see the small successes and understand the value of these to the individual – my drive is to demonstrate the impact as a valuable tool for change.
How we use creative arts for prison education
Recently, we’ve worked to create and deliver our Creative Enrichment strategy, which empowers our educators to embed creative enrichment tools into their lessons and guides our approach to make sure we’re reaching every learner in the best way for them.
We have been working with a growing network of partners to help us get learners into our classrooms. By teaming up with some of the passionate people from Odd Arts, White Water Writers, Sing Inside, and a bunch of others, we can get talking to learners and begin the process of rehabilitation through education.
Partnering with the NCJAA has given me the opportunity to learn from others in the industry, allowing me to grow in my ability and knowledge so that I can help elevate creative enrichment activities at Novus. Becoming a co-chair will be amazing for the work we do. It will give us a larger audience for our enrichment activities, and space to expand our network of partner organisations.
Working in partnership to engage learners in prisons
I believe the NCJAA provides a vital network for those working in arts and criminal justice, a sector which can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have current awareness around the priorities. Through the network, the space provided supports resources and opportunities to connect with others in the sector, joining conversations across various levels. It also gives me the chance to be represented and contribute to advocating for the value of the arts in the criminal justice sector, something that I feel is important to support greater understanding of the opportunities that arts bring to a modern rehabilitative culture.
I have been part of the steering group since 2020 and have valued contributing to conversations and discussion points that have shaped the new network structure that is in place today. There have been many challenges over the last two years, but the current position is good, and I feel the next step of being co-chair will allow me to continue to contribute to driving the network forward.
This experience will give me the chance to promote arts in Criminal Justice, representing the NCJAA across new platforms to support and build positive working relationships and deepen the support for the work with influential stakeholder.
Our creative enrichment work is innovative and flexible, helping us match the provisions to our learners needs. Take a look at some of the exciting work we've been carrying out recently!