In early 2023 we'll be running a new creative arts course at HMPYOI Feltham for Young Adults aged 18-21. As well as learning new skills we'll be inviting the prison and local community to set us creative challenges that can help improve the environment for all through art.
June - December 2022
This year we've worked with four groups of men on four residential wings at HMP The Mount to create site-specific murals. A mural is a wall painting that reflects the community in a given space and responds to the building's shape and architecture.
Often walls in secure settings can be bland and sterile. This project has improved the environment for both residents and staff on four wings and at the gym. We're passionate about co-creation in secure settings; the work is more inspiring if it is representative of and owned by the men who live there.
The men on Fowler wing created "Walk to the Sound of Your Own Beat" focused on all of us being on our own journey through life and the importance of being and keeping creative through art, words and music. The men on Ellis wanted to create a vibrant, imaginary world they could journey into; they also wanted to reflect all the different heritage and culture on the wing which was reflected in 24 national flowers that represent all the different nationalities. The men on Dixon painted an abstract design that brightened up the space and included some beautiful pattern work and the men on Howard created a lush, tropical rainforest. The gym entrance hall was transformed into a calming mountain landscape.
Whilst doing this project we've uncovered a wealth of creative talent from screenwriters and poets to artists and sculptors and we're exploring how we can continue to support creativity being celebrated and shared at The Mount - as well as painting more walls of course!
Thanks to all the men and staff who have taken part in and supported this project.
This project is funded by HMP The Mount.
Artwork by men on Fowler Wing working with artists Nicole and Nadine.
March 2022 - April 2023
Our team of artists have been busy delivering creative workshops in Surrey through a partnership with PA Housing. To date we've explored seasonal changes through creativity in March Makings and made a range of bunting, pennants and flags to decorate homes and communal areas for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
After the isolating time of the pandemic it feels good to be coming together again and there's an emphasis on chatting as much as possible alongside the creating. Making connections with others can be easier with a creative focus. Each session enables us to explore a different aspect of creativity and learn some new techniques.
We'll be delivering workshops in Thames Ditton, Walton and Weybridge over the next year. Some of the participants commented;
"I really enjoyed the company - it felt like a big hug!"
"The atmosphere was great. I enjoyed being creative and having fun." "Company can work wonders for people who live on their own."
"I'm aiming to give everything a go. We're all trying things we've never done. The artists don't act like just experts, they help you."
This project is supported by PA Housing, The Community Foundation for Surrey and the Arnold Clark Community Fund.
October 2021 - March 2023
We're delighted to be working with the inspiring and talented Lady Unchained at Feltham who is mentoring one of the young adults we met 2 years ago. He is an amazing poet and rapper who blew us away with his talent when we met him. We can't wait to see what this collaboration produces. When we discussed mentoring he said he would love Lady Unchained as his mentor but that he didn't expect she would come. We asked. She did. Sometimes we need to be more ambitious for the young adults we work with in custody, not less.
We're currently working with 5 young men who we met at Feltham on creative projects in the community. We look forward to sharing their creations soon.
At the start of 2023 we'll be trialling a new creative hub at Feltham. We'll work with 10 young adults to respond to creative briefs from both within and outside of the prison. A lot of work in criminal justice stays in criminal justice and we'd like to see more of it in the community. Community projects in the prison can help build skills, confidence and pathways back to society.
In 2021-2022 we've been working with young adults at Feltham to improve the environment they are in. They have been invited to consider how they can use creativity to communicate something important to them. Artworks developed have included those with inspiring messages and calming tones.
The piece above was developed by five young adults reflecting on COP26, when invited to share what message they wanted to communicate through their own creativity. It will be going up in the prison soon to get everyone thinking about the planet we want future generations to inherit
We have also supported young artists at Feltham to enter their work into the 2022 Koestler Awards and have recently co-created a new mural in Education to aid positive well-being.
Artwork by a group of five young adults on Swallow Unit at
HMPYOI Feltham shared with permission.
Sept 2022 - Mar 2023
Creative Connections is a three-way creative partnership project for our community, created by our community. It will bring together our own organisation with Kingston Hospital and Anstee Bridge, an alternative education programme for young people aged 14-16.
Our team of artists will work with over 60 students at Anstee Bridge to create a series of bespoke artworks for the Mental Health Emergency Department at Kingston Hospital. It will provide the young people with a focused project where their own creative ideas and skills will have a tangible impact on improving the hospital environment for patients and staff. As well as artistic skills, they will have the opportunity to develop their communication skills, work as a team and strengthen their confidence, self esteem and social skills. The artwork will be focused on transforming a stark, clinical space into a calmer, softer space that is more suited to patient needs. It will benefit the patients using the space as well as their families to make it less intimidating and a more relaxing, calming space. It will also benefit the well-being of the staff in the space by transforming the atmosphere into a more inspiring one.
The project will run for 3 months and the artwork will stay up in the hospital for at least three years. We can't wait to see what the young people create!
This project is kindly supported by The National Lottery Community Fund, Achieving for Children and Kingston Hospital Charity.
August 2021 - July 2022
We are working with 10 young adults we have met at HMPYOI Feltham after they leave custody thanks to the support of the Weavers Charity.
We invite them to reflect on how their own experiences and creativity can combine to make positive change for them and those coming
We met the very talented JB at HMPYOI Feltham. It soon became clear that he not only had an immense talent but that he was keen to share his experiences of a custodial sentence to help others in a similar position. He reflected on how it felt to arrive at a prison induction unit and how much any sort of creative distraction would have helped him to cope with and process what was happening to him. Fast forward a year and he has developed a bespoke Creative Distraction pack for young adults arriving at the Feltham induction unit today. Feedback so far includes how much the young adults appreciate the input and perspective of someone who has been in their position, the ideas for keeping in touch with loved ones and the opportunity to express themselves in different ways.
O feels passionately about using his experience to help others. He has developed a series of drawings and words that he is developing for a schools’ programme to raise awareness of consequences of gang affiliations. We are supporting him to develop these materials and connect with his own secondary school to explore trialing a talk there.
Artwork by JB
Sept 2020 - Sept 2023
We know there are a lot of people in our community who live alone and whose normal routines have been heavily disrupted over the last two years. We have been working with 20 people to paint their portraits, which they get to keep, as well as hearing about their lives and anything they wish to share. These conversations have been recorded into interviews. The interviews will sit alongside the portraits to offer some insight into local lives we have not yet heard about.
We often hear the phrases "socially isolated", "and "clinically extremely vulnerable" applied to groups of people who remain nameless, faceless and unheard. This project is all about creating a space for stories from people who are often talked about and not heard from on their own terms. It gave people the chance to tell the community who they were, what mattered to them and to get a free, professional portrait done in the process.
We worked with partner organisations to find people who would most benefit from the project and are grateful for the support of Claygate Centre for the Community, Kingston Liberal Synagogue, Milaap Centre, PA Housing and the RC Sherriff Trust.
The impact of the project on participants has included feeling less alone, less isolated and that they are part of this community. Many have commented have much of a boost it has given them and how encouraged they feel that the community is interested in hearing from them and about them. For some it has been a positive step to rebuild social confidence after the pandemic.
Nothing About Us Without Us is a partnership project with Elmbridge Museum who will be supporting us to share these stories in a free exhibition in Esher, running from April-Sept 2022 and holding the interviews in their archives so they will live on to benefit future generations. You can visit the exhibition at Elmbridge Civic Centre, High Street, Esher, KT10 9SD until 30th September 2022.
An online version of the exhibition is available here.
Artwork by Erika Flowers
NAUWU is kindly supported by The National Lottery Community Fund, The Community Foundation for Surrey and Elmbridge Museum.
Jan 2020 - Mar 2022
Lost Letters was our flagship heritage project with Surrey History Centre, funded by the Heritage Fund, to bring local history to life through creative responses to letters.
The project had been envisaged as a live experience and tour with four local partners but Covid meant we took a different path. We provided a series of online creative challenges that anyone could freely engage with and had responses from all over the world. We set up an online programme for residents and volunteers at the Royal Star & Garter care home to engage with Lost Letters which was well received and allowed residents to connect beyond the four rooms of their room with the support of volunteers and artists:
"Taking part in this project helped me deal with the claustrophobia of Covid and meant the four walls of my room opened up and fell away.”
We delivered creative challenges as well as live and online workshops with a range of partners including the halow project, the West London Mental Health Trust, Rocket Artists, Anstee Bridge PRU, Hinchley Wood Secondary School and 64 Million Artists.
The Lost Letters project artworks and resources can be found here.
Our 3am Project Exhibition, featuring art and words inspired by a single letter, can be found here.
Artwork by Sarah Bennett
Aug - Sept 2021
We were commissioned by the Mayor's Office for Policing & Crime to create site specific artworks for the new Transitions Hub, Y2A, for young adults on probation in East London. We consulted 20 young adults on probation and in custody to inform the content and tone of the artwork. Some of them were part of our valuable team getting art on the walls. This pilot project aimed to meet many needs under one roof, rather than young adults having to seek out different support services. It now offers access to housing, healthcare, education, activities and employment support. It was vital that the artwork created the right kind of space to inform an inspiring and supportive hub. We are very proud of the team and all the young adults we worked with who created 8 new murals in just a few weeks.
"The project made me feel differently about myself. The type of feeling that I was welcome, that I was part of society. It felt warm."
Design and original artworks by JB and Nicole Cowan
Painted by Erika Flowers, Nicole Cowan and Nadine Fletcher
Oct 2020 - May 2021
We worked with Claygate Centre for the Community to send letters, art and creativity packs to people living alone in our community. As Covid continued into a second year, we wanted to connect with people over the winter months when they will faced continued isolation and little social interaction.
Our brilliant artists and volunteers provided creative inspiration and comfort in the form of letters, cards, paintings, origami. poetry, prints and much more. They were delivered alongside Meals on Wheels.
"It provided a great deal of comfort to know that someone in my community had taken the time to think of me and create something so thoughtful just for me. I wasn't alone any more."
Artwork by Nicole Cowan
We're a regular provider of arts workshops at HMPYOI Feltham, working with young men aged 19-21 and have delivered arts programmes there since 2017.
We experiment with a wide range of creative techniques and use different media to support positive mental health, self-expression and reflection through creativity.
Many of the young men we work with have been excluded from school and have had negative experiences of any formal learning. We work hard together to build trust and create a productive atmosphere, where they can explore their creativity.
In 2021 as Covid continued to impact the prison regime we were given permission by the Governor to continue our work directly on the residential wings. This had a positive impact on the mental health of the young adults and enabled them to explore using creativity as a powerful aid to wellbeing at a difficult time.
"It made me feel good about myself and see myself in a more positive way.”
“It helps with my autism because I am doing something creative.”
“It makes me think a lot. The sessions inspire me and help my emotions come out in good ways not bad ones.”
Our work on the wings was kindly supported by the MoJ/HMPPS Clinks Covid-19 Response Programme, the UK Youth Fund and the City Bridge Trust.
Artwork by S
May - July 2020
We collaborated with the brilliant people at Clean Break to create Write 2 Connect, a letter writing project to connect women in prison with women in the community.
At the time of this project there were 3,424 women in prison in the UK (24 April 2020), many of whom were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and whose visits, which can be a vital lifeline, had been suspended. This project was devised in response to Covid-19, and our desire to connect with people who may be especially isolated at this time.
We invited women from all corners of the UK and from all walks of life to write a message to a woman in prison. Have you ever found comfort in words, a story or a song? What inspires you? Is it a quote from a book, nature, a woman you know? Sharing something that is personal to you and offering hope to another person is a gift which everyone can afford, and which can remind us in difficult moments like the pandemic, that we are connected, we are part of a wider community and we are valued.
Find out more about the work of Clean Break here https://www.cleanbreak.org.uk/
Artwork by Nicole Cowan
May 2019 and May 2020
Here at INYBB we love teaming up with 64 Million Artists. They are all about everyone connecting and sharing through creativity, even it they don't consider themselves to be creative. They firmly believe there is an artist in everyone and that being creative is good for us. We couldn't agree more.
In 2020 we kicked off our online Lost Letters campaign by inviting the 64 Million Artist network to send us a Mundane Memoir - a creative response to a task that kept them busy during lockdown. We had some amazing responses and will be collating them all into an online exhibition.
In 2019 our Dear Friend campaign requested handwritten letters from the network, that shared an experience and offered advice to someone who may be going through something similar. We sometimes forget how amazing, inspiring and resilient human beings can be when facing difficult situations in life, from bereavement to moving to a new area, being a new parent or carer to suffering from anxiety or living with an illness. Sharing lived experience of something can offer support, hope and positivity to others and make a real difference to helping them get through something similar. These experiences were put into words and shared with someone who needed them.
January - March 2020
In 2020 we returned to work with the brilliant students at Anstee Bridge.
Anstee Bridge is an alternative learning programme for young people aged 14-16 facing emotional challenges that cause them to struggle and disengage from education.
It provides bespoke support for young people with a range of emotional and social issues, helping them to cope with the pressures of their final year of education.
A key part of the offer is a programme of creative activities, designed to build confidence and increase mental well-being.
Our Alice in Wonderland programme was a six-week intervention that used Lewis Carroll's iconic book as inspiration for a range of sessions that explored wellbeing through creativity. We worked with artists Nicole Cowan and Nadine Fletcher and explored different mediums including printing, weaving, painting and clay sculpture.
"I learnt that art does not have to be any certain way, it is how you interpret it and it's a way for me to relax."
We wrote letters to people we admired and hosted a series of wellbeing tea parties, that included creative activities, for people in our community.
We also had a week hosting activities at Lime Tree Primary School, where the older Anstee students, supported and worked with the younger Lime Tree students. It was a really positive experience for all and the art was showcased at an exhibition at Surbiton Library that was opened by the Mayor.
For more details on the work of Anstee Bridge, go to https://ansteebridge.co.uk/
July 2018 – May 2019
Our Health Your Hands celebrated 70 years of the NHS in Kingston and the evolution of Kingston Hospital. The project, kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, offered a year of learning for over 300 children and young people. Through the project, the young people were given a unique insight into the evolution of the hospital in response to scientific, technological and social evolution. Alongside this they had an opportunity to find out more about careers in the NHS and how they can take responsibility for their own health.
At INYBB… we had the delightful job of running the Gratitude Café and worked with the Anstee Bridge students to gather stories, letters, memories and anecdotes of how people have helped each other at Kingston Hospital and sharing that gratitude and thanks in a range of creative ways.
Feltham Arts Programme
October 2018 - March 2019
We were pleased to be one of three arts companies delivering activity as part of the inaugural Feltham Arts Programme. We worked with different groups of learners, aged 18-21, one day a week for six weeks and invited in a range of writers, poets and visual artists to work with the group and inspire them to create their own letters, poems and artworks. Work was shared at the end of the six weeks at a showcase for family members. With permission, copies of the work are shared externally to challenge assumptions people may have about young people living in prison. All work belongs to the creators and is kept in a portfolio which they can use, display and share to celebrate their achievements and highlight the personal development they have made through the course, some submitting their work to a range of creative competitions.
February to May 2018
We worked with two groups based at The Firs in Claygate and Fenner House in Walton-on-Thames, both independent living schemes for those in later life. Some of the residents have moved into the area to be nearer their families and this project enabled new friendships within each residence, as well as build new friendships in the other setting. Each group worked with an artist, poet Maureen Jivani and artist Sarah Bennett, to explore aspects of life and/or creative prompts to inspire words, visual arts and crafts. Our prompts have included favourite recipes, our idols and what makes us laugh. Some of the group members have linked up with a person in the other group as a pen pal. We organised a special event for the two groups to meet at the end of May, some met their pen pals for the first time.
Feedback from participants:
"Excellent project. Well structured. Fun and memorable. Staff are kind, pleasant and understanding."
"Fantastic ideas and friendly people. Great get-together work."
"I enjoyed getting together with friends and reminiscing and the activities."
Poems by Post
In 2017 we were pleased to be working with The Royal Star and Garter Homes in Surbiton. This programme was inspired by the thought that creative outcomes may differ if stimulus was sent postally rather than electronically. Twelve residents of the home worked with lead artist Tom Mallender to share stories and memories that were important to them. These were then used as a stimulus for poetry, which was posted to six other poets across the country from London to Newcastle, who produced work in response. The residents were also paired with pen pals from Hinchley Wood School, who worked with artist Rachel Turner of Bounce Theatre. The older and younger pen pals shared stories and compared notes on school life, fashion, work, friends and families. The project culminated in over 35 poems being published in a dedicated anthology and the pen pals meeting at a tea party hosted by the local MP.
“I started this project assuming I would be writing about total strangers, but as the weeks have gone by, I have started feeling very differently about them all. I know these people by name. They are familiar to me in a way they wouldn’t be if they were simply a few tweets and an emoji, or half a dozen Facebook posts. Even if we never physically meet, we are not strangers any more. We have travelled together. I had forgotten how good it is to write letters and how much these things matter.”
Catherine Edmunds, Poet in Poems by Post
As part of testing whether there was a demand for what we could offer, we ran pilot workshops in a range of settings in London and North Surrey. We brought together Emberbrook Care Home in Thames Ditton and Princess Alice Hospice in Esher with younger pen pals pupils at Hinchley Wood Secondary School. All three groups enjoyed weekly workshops on different themes led by artists Yero Timi-Biu and Vanessa Kisuule and wrote letters to their pen pals. Some of the children walked past the care home on their way to school but had no idea what went on inside or who lived there. Connecting through letters proved to be a great way to challenge assumptions, on both sides, and find commonalities. At the hospice we worked with a group of day patients who were pleased to make new friends with their pen pals. One of the hospice patients commented, “It’s hard as you approach the end of your life as people want to do everything for you. It’s a basic human need to want to be useful and helpful to others but that’s taken away from you. This project gave me a real chance to help someone else by sharing my life experiences with a young lad and offer him advice. It was brilliant when I heard back how useful it was to him and how much he appreciated it. You don’t expect to make new friendships when you’re terminally ill. This was a breath of fresh air.”
We were delighted to be working with this inspirational programme in both 2016 and 2017. Based in Kingston-upon-Thames, Anstee Bridge provides a weekly support programme for young people aged 15-16 who have become disengaged with education. It offers a range of support including creative programmes designed to boost self esteem and confidence. In 2016 writer Lauren Brown worked with the group to reply to letters from people in the community and create a giant thank you letter (and matching giant envelope!) for the Anstee staff. The group also articulated their dreams, hopes and wishes for the future.
In December 2017 a new group worked with artist Danielle O’Shaughnessy, they received and wrote back letters to people in the community and worked with local florist Johanna Pedrick Flowers to create Christmas themed flower arrangements. Accompanied by a note of kindness, their arrangements were then gifted to strangers that they selected in Kingston Town Centre. It was great so see the joy this brought to the shoppers and visitors who were lucky enough to be selected. More importantly, it demonstrated the power of giving a gift to a fellow human being just because it was a kind thing to do. It was great for all the participants to see social action in full effect and its positive impact.