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Past Project: New Perspectives

Our creative delivery with residents in South Yorkshire Approved Premises

Group of adults making a mosaic

New Perspectives was an eight year long programme of creative delivery with residents in South Yorkshire’s Approved Premises. Approved Premises are ‘halfway houses’ supporting offenders between prison and community. Residents are men assessed as high risk to the community. The nature of the hostel is transient and residents usually stay between a few weeks and 6 months.

What We Achieved

Residents engaged in a wide range of activity delivered by professional artists to a very high standard. Popular activities were stone carving, ceramics and music technology. Our original aim was to enable high risk offenders to gain the skills and strategies required to become motivated, communicate effectively, work alongside others to achieve an outcome and make positive choices in order to reintegrate successfully into the community. Artists did this by engaging residents in positive activity that resulted in a quality outcome so they came away with a real sense of achievement and having seen something through to the end.

Within the stone carving, residents had to work as a team, take guidance from the artist and use the tools safely and effectively to achieve a good result. Through ceramics sessions, practical skills were developed through tile making, slab building, coil work, modelling, decorative techniques such as imprinting and utilising coloured glazes creatively. Residents created functional items to use in their new future homes: soap dishes coasters, mugs, bowls and plates, as well as creating personalised tiles and sculptures for their children or relatives. Within the music technology sessions, residents created their own music compositions and learnt about beats, melodies, rhythms and grooves using software apps and music tech hardware. They built up their own solo and group ideas into complete music compositions turning them into finished tracks for a music album on CD.

Approved Premises staff were consistently impressed with the impacts:

These men have often never felt like they have achieved anything in their lives and to be recognised for something that they have done has given them a massive boost to their emotional wellbeing and given them the incentives to move forward in a positive way.

We based our approach around increasing life chances: developing transferable skills for employment and appropriate social relationships. Residents built their resilience and patience through having to focus on one task and work hard to get a positive end result. Working collaboratively with new artists, staff and each other enabled them to build relationships, think more empathetically and develop communication and teamwork skills. We gave out certificates for those who attended regularly, validating the commitment of those who engaged positively. A quality end result raised residents’ confidence and self-esteem, making them feel more valued as members of society. Although we were not able to measure long-term impact, we feel positive that this new sense of purpose gave residents the motivation to begin thinking more positively about their lives.

On completion of the project, one Approved Premises Manager said:

Can I thank you and all of your artists for the work that you have done over the last 6 years with us in the APs –it has been amazing!
I have seen residents engage with this form of activity here who are some of the most estranged in society -those on the very periphery of learning engagement. Often these are adult men whose employment, family and friendship roots are destroyed due to the seriousness of their offending and the harm they have caused. Residents who engage with darts and probation staff, and with each other, are sometimes taking profound steps of trust, team-work and creativity -the beginnings of employability.

adults   art   creative   darts   mental health   visual art

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