Safe Ground - Using drama to educate prisoners and young people at risk in the community

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Common Ground

What the project was

Common Ground brought together schoolchildren, older adults, young offenders and prisoners into a creative dialogue with each other in order to explore the project’s themes of community, cooperation, identity and responsibility. Involved were 22 schoolchildren aged 14-15 from Battersea Park School, 14 adult prisoners from HMP Belmarsh, 20 adult prisoners from HMP The Mount, 13 young offenders from HMYOI Deerbolt, and older adults, 11 from the Katherine Low Settlement and 13 from Tooting Graveney Day Centre.

How it happened

Safe Ground facilitated 48 workshop sessions over eight months involving storytelling, drama, percussion activities and group discussion work. The structured sessions enabled participants to express themselves and investigate their own experiences and those of others. The groups did not meet face-to-face; instead, the work created by each group was shared with other participants via written, visual and audio exchanges. Click here for photographs of workshops.

What the project produced

Common Ground broke down some of the barriers between participant groups, increasing participants’ self-esteem and confidence as well as giving the participants the opportunity to consider the origin and impact of crime within communities.

The project produced a lot of very interesting and exciting work but culminated in the young people making a short film to document the process of the project, alongside a professional documentary maker. The film was screened as part of a planned public event at Battersea Arts Centre at the end of the project, and was accompanied by live performances from the young people.

The conclusion

Common Ground was a highly successful project, fulfilling all its aims. All of the groups benefitted from a high-quality arts experience, receiving specialist sessions from freelance practitioners. The enjoyment derived from this and the pride taken by participants in the work they produced, contributed towards increased levels of confidence. One of the many positive outcomes, which can be viewed in the Common Ground evaluation, it that BPS have employed one of the Common Ground freelancers to work with students from the school and older adults from the Katherine Low Settlement as part of a series of intergenerational storytelling workshops.

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