At Novus we are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage our learners in education, especially through our creative arts and enrichment projects. Recently, HMP Styal had the exciting opportunity to work with Dash Arts on ‘The Public House’ which is a project comprising of a series of events and workshops run across England.
The initial 2023 phase is in partnership with Birmingham University and University of East Anglia, and funded by the UK Research and Innovation, and Three Monkies Trust.
The workshops that ran at HMP Styal on the 28th of June 2023 included speech writing, how to perform/deliver speeches, short (anonymous) interviews for the Public House Podcast, group workshops and using a variety of acting and drama techniques to find the most effective ways to deliver a speech.
Providing Unique Opportunities for Learners to develop their cultural capital
The aim of the workshops was to playfully and theatrically provide our learners with the tools to speak up about the things that are important to them. The broad project works with many different communities such as the deaf community, university students etc. which gave our learners the opportunity to be a part of a project that works within the wider community.
Alongside giving learners new opportunities and developing their cultural capital, it also enhanced the curriculum and gave those, who are working on their literacy, the opportunity to use their newfound skills in this project. Colleagues at HMP Styal also commented on the positive impact the project has had on the learners with Steve Raby, tutor at HMP Styal commenting that:
“As always, I am really proud of the learners for being so passionate and honest in their work. They have all used English skills learnt in class and expanded on these through learning how to deliver a speech.”
The learners also felt like they had benefited from the workshops as they spoke positively about their experiences:
“I found the whole experience very exciting, emotional, and empowering – everything was amazing!”
“I feel I have gained more confidence to be able to get my point across clearly”.
The project has enabled our learners to gain vital skills in communication, which are necessary to finding a job on release, whilst also improving their confidence by talking openly in front of each other and working together in groups.
More upcoming arts and enrichment opportunities for prison education
The exciting opportunities are still ongoing as we will be working with podcast producer Marie Horner, on creating episodes for The Public House podcast series.
The series will reflect on who we are, how we talk about ourselves and be shaped by the nationwide workshops, exploring the process as well as the voices, opinions and learnings of participants and artists/writers involved.
The work done at HMP Styal will also be part of the external events that the Public House Project will be running. Two events at HOME Manchester will be held in November where our learners will have the opportunity to have their work showcased. The events will include pop-up performances of speeches from participants and actors, and end with a short music performance.
A state-of-the-art theatre production based on the speeches and writing of participants, including our learners will be showcased in 2024-2025, giving our learners another fantastic opportunity to have their work seen by the wider community.
We are always looking for new and innovative ways to inspire our learners through education, read more about our arts and enrichment strategy here.