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“I believe that words have power”

Family Man and Fathers Inside are Safe Ground’s flagship family relationship programmes for men in prison, which have been delivered in over 50 establishments across England and Wales since 2003. Safe Ground alumni member Jason took the Family Man programme during his time in prison.  It was great to have the opportunity to speak to Jason about his experience of the arts, and how he hopes to take his passion forward in the future.

Jason shared that he first experienced the arts in 2003, when he began writing as a part of projects with Synergy and Geese Theatres. When Jason participated in the Family Man programme in 2010, he was in the process of writing a novel called ‘Never to Fall’, which went on to win a platinum award at the Koestler Awards. Jason described the programme as the beginning, “it was amazing” as the facilitators helped him to express himself.

For Jason, his “passion was burst out of that room of darkness” in prison. He enrolled into education and began writing about his experiences to express something good and share his take. Jason believes that words are a way of teaching, feeling and inspiring, as he said “I believe that words have power.” For Jason, writing is a purposeful activity, and poetry gets people to come together. Jason wrote his book ‘Beyond Words’, as he wanted to express his journey through the prison system, showing that prisons are dark places, but there is also inspiration. The book is a reflection of himself, as the prison experience for Jason, was beyond words.

“Passion was burst out of that room of darkness”

I asked Jason how he hoped to take his work in the arts forward in the future. Jason said that he would like to collaborate on spoken word videos. He is currently filming poetry in a disused police station cell, as well as collaborating with City Voices Creative Writing Group in Stoke-on-Trent. Jason also attends and performs at a range of events. Jason put emphasis on putting his heart into his pieces, he said “I have a heart for each of my poems, I like to put my heart into it, as this makes it powerful.”

I shared with Jason a TEDx Talk by Dr Karen Treisman, which discusses the importance of good relationships in the process of understanding and healing trauma. He said that the video took his mind on a journey. Jason said that in society, relationships are paramount to success or failure, and acceptance or rejection are based on the development of relationships. He believes that on release, people don’t make a long-term plan as it is an unpredictable environment, and fear is instilled. In Jason’s words, the lack of ties mean that it is every man for himself in prison, and the prison system is fostering and supporting this ‘every man for himself’ mentality.

Jason noted that before technology, people built relationships face-to-face. But now societal progression is a network relationship, and there is an increase in social divide. He concludes that the narratives around prison have been around for so long, we need the whole of society to help to shift perspectives of those in prison. He believes that more positive lights, like Family Man, should be let in, as there is great difficulty getting out of the revolving door.

 

Written by Paige Barber

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