Safe Ground was founded in 1993 and formally organised as a charity in 1995 by founders Antonia Rubinstein and Polly Freeman, both of whom had significant skills in education, training, drama and family dynamics.
The early days
In the early days, Safe Ground’s work was much more rooted in theatre; the first venture was a production of The Tempest at HMYOI Huntercombe followed by The Doors, an original play inspired by Gulliver’s Travels and developed by prisoners from HMYOI Feltham. We then went on to create innovative arts based community programmes including The Seven Ages of Man and The Flock. Soon after, Antonia and Polly worked with adult men in HMP Wandsworth who described the workshops as a ‘safe’ place to be; and gave the organisation its name.
Our programme development
In the late 1990s, the Home Office invited Safe Ground to design a family relationships programme for use across the English and Welsh male prison estate. This investment lasted over 10 years and resulted in the creation of the internationally known Family Man and Fathers Inside programmes.
Alongside the development of FM and FI, Safe Ground has also continued its commitment to community arts based programmes, delivering the Creating Community Archives project (2009-10), Common Ground (2010-11) and Transitions (2011). Our community presence is a constant now that the GROUNDation series of events brings poetry written by men in HMP Wandsworth to the local community through performance on a regular basis.
Since 2010 we have also been able to innovate in response to and alongside our graduates and also stakeholders in the varied sectors in which we work.