This autumn we're continuing to deliver a weekly arts programme at HMPYOI Feltham. We're working with 40 Young Adults to develop larger art pieces to go up in the prison. We're also delivering the final phase of our Lost Letters heritage project & working with artist JB on a creative toolkit for new arrivals at Feltham
Oct 2020 - Apr 2022
We know there are a lot of people in our community who live alone and have not had any regular social interaction over the last year. We also know we have not heard their stories of the pandemic.
Thanks to the support of the Community Foundation for Surrey and the National Lottery Community Fund, we'll be working with 20 people in our community. They are people who live alone and have been shielding since March. We will offer them a free portrait by a professional artist, which they will get to keep. Alongside their portrait, we'll be offering them the chance to say whatever they want to say about the last six months or life in general. The interviews will sit alongside the portraits to offer some insight into local lives that we have not yet heard about.
We often hear the phrases "socially isolated", "hard to reach" and "most 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.
Nothing About Us Without Us is a partnership project with Elmbridge Museum who will be supporting us to share these stories in early 2022 and holding the interviews in their archives so they will live on to benefit future generations.
Artwork by Erika Flowers
Oct 2020 - May 2021
After the success of our Words on Wheels campaign in April, which many people kindly contributed to, we're working with Claygate Centre for the Community again. We'll send creative activity packs out with Meals on Wheels to people living alone in our community over the winter months when they will face continued isolation and little social interaction.
We're asking you to get involved by putting together a creative activity pack that would brighten someone's day when it gets delivered alongside their Meals on Wheels. You could include a letter, drawing, collage, your favourite poem or recipe and perhaps a blank card or postcard that they could send to someone else. Perhaps you could also include some origami or a word puzzle.
You can include whatever you think someone else would enjoy in your pack but please be mindful that some people receiving it may have poor eyesight so please make it as clear and accessible as possible.
More ideas and inspiration on our homepage.
Please send your packs to INYBB Freepost (no stamp or address required)
by 31st March. If you are local you can drop off the packs at our office;
The Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach,
Hinchley Wood, Surrey, KT10 0SR
for the attention of Wendy.
Artwork by Nicole Cowan
Sept 2020 - Sept 2021
We've been exploring ways to keep our own team supported and well in these challenging times. One thing that came out of one of our sessions was that a lot of projects are available but you can often feel overwhelmed and are often asked to contribute on a specific issue or topic. You may be invited to contribute to a platform but have little say or impact on where your creativity ends up or how it is used.
Creative Space invites our artists and their networks to create work that is important to them at the current time with no themes or agendas. Some will work with collaborators. We'll share this body of work on our website and through a social media series.
If there is something you would like to say or share through creativity please do get in touch.
Artwork by Sarah Bennett in collaboration with new parents Rebecca & Declan
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 encourage expression and reflection through creativity. Workshops include printing, portraits, painting and soap sculpture, as well as weaving and incorporating words into artworks. in 2020, 12 of our students won Koestler Arts Awards including the image above winning a Gold Award. We're currently unable to use workshop spaces due to the pandemic but are instead working directly on the wings in small groups or 1-1 with our students. We're working as a team to build a creative toolkit that is bespoke to secure settings and contains artwork and ideas generated by our students. We hope to roll this out to the wider prison estate in 2021.
Many of the young men we work with have been excluded from school and have had negative experiences of formal learning and education. We work hard together to build trust and create and maintain a productive atmosphere, where they can explore their creativity. We're really proud of them and the work they've produced so far.
Our work on the wings at the start of 2021 has been kindly supported by the MoJ/HMPPS Clinks Covid-19 Response Programme, the UK Youth Fund and the City Bridge Trust.
Artwork by S
Jan 2020 - Jan 2022
We're so excited to be delivering our most ambitious project to date in 2020/21. Thanks to the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we'll be working with the brilliant people of Surrey History Centre to engage people across Surrey with their local history and the lost art of letter writing. It will highlight the universality of our experiences as residents of Surrey by bringing to life the lives and experiences of our predecessors and asking for a response, by letter, from current residents, who will be invited to take part. It will culminate in a book, touring exhibition and an online legacy, displaying the original letters alongside some contemporary responses. It will begin with a period of research at Surrey History Centre, involving a group of volunteers, to curate a selection of diverse letters that have the universal themes of humanity as a connecting theme. We’ll hold a series of workshops using the archive materials as prompts for creative responses with our four project partners at the Royal Star & Garter Care Home (Surbiton), The Princess Alice Hospice (Esher), Hinchley Wood Secondary School (Hinchley Wood) and The Halow Project (Guildford). The responses to our Lost Letters Inspiration Toolkit, produced in these workshops, will be curated into an exhibition and a book. You can get involved as a volunteer or by attending the exhibition, which will tour across Surrey in 2021. We hope to see you there. In the meantime, write us, or someone else, a letter because what can be better than an expected letter?
You can also get involved in our series of Lost Letters Creative Challenges, all on the home page of this website. Send in your creative responses so we can include them in our online exhibition, book and tour.
Image from Surrey History Centre Archive with permission. Details of the Collection can be provided on request.
May - July 2020
We collaborated with the brilliant people at Clean Break to bring you Write 2 Connect, a letter writing project to connect women in prison with women in the community. There are currently 3,424 women in prison in the UK (as of 24 April 2020), many of whom are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and whose visits, which can be a vital lifeline, have been suspended. This project has was devised in response to Covid19, 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 one we currently face, 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
We were delighted to return to work with the brilliant students at Anstee Bridge this year.
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
We’re delighted to announce that we’re a delivery partner in a new health and heritage project, led by Anstee Bridge and Bounce Theatre. Our Health Your Hands will celebrate 70 years of the NHS in Kingston and the evolution of Kingston Hospital. The project, kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, offers a year of learning for over 300 children and young people. They will research, document and share the history of Kingston Hospital from workhouse to fully functional modern hospital. Through the project, the young people will be given a unique insight into the evolution of the hospital in response to scientific, technological and social evolution. Alongside this they will have an opportunity to find out more about careers in the NHS and how they can take responsibility for their own health. At INYBB… we have the delightful job of running the Gratitude Café and working 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. We can’t wait to get started! If someone at Kingston Hospital has helped you and you’d like to say thank you and contribute to our project, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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 bring 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, which were then tied to balloons and sent off into the sky.
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 empowering for all the participants to see social action in full effect and its positive impact.
In the summer of 2016 we worked with patients on the dementia and surgical wards of Kingston Hospital. One of the participants was a man recovering from a brain injury. Through exploring memories, poems and letters he shared stories of his time growing up in Ghana, which our lead artist, Tom Mallender, turned into evocative poems that he was delighted to receive. On the surgical ward we heard how the kindness of an amazing nurse made a huge difference to one of our participants, who felt less alone because of her actions. He had real pleasure in writing his letter to the nurse who had helped him.
Tom Mallender led an INYBB group at Response Community Projects in West Brompton. Response is a community centre which provides a safe space for social interaction, learning and improved wellbeing. For our writing group of ten, we created a link with the local homework club and set up some new pen pals for our participants, who had come to London from Iraq, Spain, India, Switzerland and France and had so many rich stories to share. We were bowled over by the stories of courage we encountered here. We enjoyed writing our own poems inspired by images and sharing words on the people and places that were important to us.
The Marylebone Project in West London provides long and short-term beds to homeless women and essential services for those women using the rough sleeper’s drop-in. It provides education, training and employment opportunities and a range of programmes to support independent living. Writer Lauren Brown worked with some amazing women at The Marylebone Project in Autumn 2016. We shared salutations in seven languages, wrote to our younger selves and wrote to women who had inspired us and told them the positive impact they’d had on our lives.
Artist Jennifer Seajay led letter writing workshops at Wellness with a Goal, a programme for adults living with and recovering from mental illness in Walton-on-Thames. In a workshop where we aimed to help others through a letter, one of the participants wished to write to a young prisoner. He himself had served time at Pentonville Prison and wanted to give hope to a young man in the same situation. This letter was to spark the start of our relationship with staff at HMYOI Feltham, leading to it being one of the key strands of our current activity. Snail mail serendipity in action!