This two day Creative Writing and self-development workshop was created and facilitated by R2S role model DD Armstrong. The aims of the two day workshop was to show prisoners new ways of expressing themselves through creative writing, to have them identify and understand a number of cognitive skills, behaviour and attitude which they would examine through characters in their stories.
The R2S team have worked with the prisoners at HMP Wayland since 2013 and after facilitating two successful workshops in 2015, they decided that a creative writing project was the way forward. DD Armstrong noted that many of the inmates in the two workshops showed that they were passionate about creative writing and Emily Niroomand-Rad, Business Administrator for Safer Custody and Equalities agreed that it could help them with their self confidence.
Once the workshop content was developed by DD, Emily invited prisoners to take part, there were ten places available. Eight inmates (young black males aged 19-25) signed up to attend the two day intensive course, which was held in the prison education department in June 2015.
From the beginning of the session DD realised that the participants were a range of young men with different writing abilities and mind set. Some prisoners saw the project as a stepping stone and had experience of creative writing, some wanted to see if they could learn transferable skills and others had never written a story before but wanted to explore creative writing and broaden their horizons. Regardless of their motives they all had one thing in common and that was to take up a once in a lifetime opportunity.
As a result of this two day workshop R2S management has now produced a small book called the ‘Beyond Words anthology, a collection of short stories written by the prisoners. The stories in this anthology touch on key issues that are pertinent with young people for example peer pressure, gang violence and making the right choices at the right time.
Brianna Cyrus BTEG Manager said she was pleased that the prisoners achieved so much in a short space of time. They were able to explore these sensitive issues in such an honest way and their commitment in seeing the project through to the end despite being transferred or released was admirable.