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

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Methodology

All our programmes are distinct in content, style and purpose. They all share a methodology- a set of principles that are common in the programmes’ design and delivery.

The power of group work

We use group work because we believe the power of the group creates an environment in and of itself- working alone or 1:1 can also be powerful and effective- but it is a different process. Some of our programmes may include elements of 1:1 work, but the primary work space is in a group. The group is made up of dynamics and these, when skilfully managed, become part of the challenge and reward of the work. We are all in groups most of the time; being aware of our responses, attitudes, skills and abilities in groups can help us all achieve more and work better with others.

Drama as therapy

We use drama techniques and sometimes drama therapy or group therapeutic methods in our work. Holding the space, managing conflict and supporting people to take risks, try new things, speak up and perform are all therapeutic processes- they are not therapy but they can be cathartic and they can mean people are freed up to reach new goals. The use of drama techniques (throughout Family Man and Fathers Inside and Man Up) and arts practices such as music (in Common Ground), film (in Transitions), poetry (in GROUNDation) are all part of our core methodology. The use of character and story can allow participants to express or experience other people’s perspectives; experiment with new ways of being or doing and feel the impact of someone’s actions from another point of view. The arts help us understand ourselves and each other.

 Aiding desistance

There are several aspects of arts practice that aid desistance- for example, performance and receiving positive feedback, creating something and completing something, taking the stage and committing to something; all of which are clear parts of our methodology. The arts elements of our programmes also enable people to shift and alter the perceptions they have of themselves (often negative or hurtful) and create new identities, encompassing multiple aspects of their personalities, skills and abilities- so developing more rounded and holistic identities with which to face the world and with which to cope with obstacles and frustrations. This also enables others to see these new identities- becoming a writer, performer, group member, artist, supportive, creative, talented, persistent and determined person can help challenge the more negative and entrenched views of others. Building an identity that can withstand negativity is part of our hypothesis for change.

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