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



Family Relationships in Prison

16 Jan 2018

HMP Parc in Wales are in the process of expanding their scheme whereby inmates can keep track of their children’s progress in school, helping the maintenance of family relationships. Following this news, The Guardian asked their readers about their experiences of having family members in prison. In a recent article, these readers discuss how they […] … more »

Safe Ground win the 2017 Longford Prize

12 Dec 2017

Arts education charity ‘Safe Ground’ is awarded The Longford Prize “humanity, courage, persistence and originality”. Safe Ground is a small team with a national reach, working in secure training centres, young offenders institutions, social emotional and mental health schools, and high security and open prisons. Executive Director Charlie Weinberg says the prize “is a tribute […] … more »

Fatherhood Behind Bars

21 Jun 2017

We recently spoke to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) about Safe Ground’s programmes, Family Man and Fathers Inside, and the impact they can have on prisoners, families and facilitators. We also gave a facilitator’s insight into how families interact and support one another, and why family programmes are so important to the rehabilitation of prisoners. Read the full […] … more »

Fathers Inside participants are 40% less likely to re-offend

25 Jan 2017

Safe Ground is delighted to receive our latest Justice Data Lab report, for the first time including Fathers Inside for analysis. Safe Ground were the first organisation to offer data to the Justice Data Lab, which is a big risk for organisations, particularly of our size. This report clearly demonstrates the significant impact of Fathers […] … more »

CJA awards

28 Nov 2016

The Criminal Justice Alliance 2016 awards were held to celebrate a ‘marked contribution to effectiveness, fairness or new models of delivery’ within the criminal justice system. The big winners of the night were Storybook Dads, a charity that offers children the chance to hear their parents read stories to them from prison. Runners-up were SAFE! a […] … more »

Prison Safety and Reform

28 Nov 2016

We attended the recent speech by Elizabeth Truss detailing the plan for prisons to ensure better safety and reduce re-offending. Topics included putting governors at the centre of all services, increasing staffing levels and creating new prisons. In the report there is evidence there will be new changes, however there isn’t certainty when they will […] … more »


26 Sep 2016 by Dan Branigan

Taking up temporary residency at the National Theatre (Dorfman Theatre), Southbank again this year, somewhat ironically it hosted our discussions around MOVING. HOME. The symposium was the last in a trilogy of events spread throughout 2016 that celebrate Safe Ground’s 21st birthday. We used this important milestone in our unfolding history to take a moment […] … more »

Walking Human

26 Sep 2016 by Dan Branigan

On 22nd September I was lucky enough to attend the most recent Koestler Trust exhibition, ‘We Are All Human’. This year I was part of a walking tour around the exhibition, looking at the artwork in more depth, gaining insight into each piece. The tour was hosted by Koestler’s very own Hosts, who enthusiastically gave us a […] … more »

Family Ties at Parc

16 Jun 2016 in

The most recent unannounced HM Inspection of HMP/YOI Parc has been published. Despite the wider issues around safety and violence that afflict Parc, outcomes for prisoners in terms of both purposeful activity and resettlement were found to be good. Inspectors found the prison had placed offender management ‘at the heart of its work to reduce reoffending’ and there were examples of good practice such as the family interventions unit. Safe Ground’s Family Man and Fathers Inside programmes have been integral to the Invisible Walls project and a key component on the Family Intervention Unit (FIU) alongside a wide range of additional activities including; Barnardos, local Scouts and childrens’ service providers, parents’ support and family learning opportunities, homework clubs and cookery classes. Safe Ground is proud to be involved in a pioneering development and to have the confidence of the FIU senior leadership in our methodologies to contribute to this important work. Below are the highlights from the HM Inspection report, to read the report in full please click here.

Children, families and contact with the outside world

The prison worked with families to ensure they were involved in the rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners. The approach was radical and innovative and probably the best we have seen in any prison. The prison had recently been awarded the ‘Investors in Families’ accredited chartermark – the only prison in the European Union to have received the award. (pg. 57 HMI report Dec 15-Jan 16)

T4 wing remained the family interventions unit, holding up to 60 prisoners, where prisoners could access a range of programmes and activities to support and develop their family relationships; partners and children were also encouraged to be part of this approach. Any prisoner could apply for a place on the unit, with priority to those felt most likely to benefit. (pg. 57 HMI report Dec 15-Jan 16)

T4 also incorporated the ‘Invisible walls’ project, a four-year initiative offering targeted help and support for 20 prisoners at a time in the last 12 months of their sentence and the first six months following release. The project focused on some of the most chaotic and problematic families, and was designed to break the cycle of intergenerational offending. Initial indications were that the work was having a substantial impact on reconviction rates. (pg. 57 HMI report Dec 15-Jan 16)

A prison analysis suggested that 69% of prisoners at Parc received regular visits compared with an average of 48% across the rest of England and Wales. The prison encouraged prisoner involvement in the lives of their children, and many parent/teacher meetings had been arranged at the prison. (pg. 57 HMI report Dec 15-Jan 16)

Keep your eyes peeled for a Safe Ground interview with Trustee and Head of Family Interventions Programmes, Corin Morgan-Armstrong, in a few weeks!

Full article »

Unlocking Potential: A Review of Education in Prison

19 May 2016 in

Dame Sally Coates review, Unlocking Potential: A Review of Education in Prison, is the first time for a long time that education in prison has been systematically analysed with a view to radical change.

The publication of the review, on the same day as the Queen’s speech which heralds a new system of prison governance and outcome measurement, is symbolic of Government emphasis on improving what and how prison can deliver to wider society as well as to the people it directly affects.

The Coates review cannot respond to all the changes people in prison, their families and staff might want to see; but it does deliver a range of recommendations and suggestions for doing things differently, some of which, at least in the short term, Safe Ground agrees are eminently sensible.

The review recognises, for the first time and in concrete terms, the essential value of both arts education and of relationships programmes and support. For Safe Ground and many of our colleagues, this will be welcome recognition of the engagement, progression and contributions to overall achievement individual learners, families and institutions can make.

Safe Ground is responsible for a wide range of relationships programmes in prison and the community and the Coates review gives good indication that each one will be technically supported and encouraged (at Governors’ discretion) in prisons nationally.  Family Man and Fathers Inside both involve graduates from the programmes as mentors on further programmes; something the Coates review is keen to develop.

Our work with Novus to train and develop the facilitation skills and confidence of teachers in prison is another significant aspect of the review we feel confident will add enormous value to the improvements Dame Sally hopes to achieve.

Our programme of support to Prison Officers will enable teams of mixed grade Officers and managers to consider how they can further embed, encourage and support education as part of the Whole Prison approach and we are optimistic about the impact of this approach.  Safe Ground’s newer programmes, Man Up and Our Own Stories both fit the Personal and Social Development curriculum and we are pleased to see the Coates review has taken into account the varying and widely ranging educational experiences and needs of learners in prison. The emphasis on recognizing learning difficulty and disability and of simultaneously aiming to enable higher level and continuous education is something Safe Ground programmes intend to support.

Safe Ground is committed to developing social capital and improving the well-being of people in prison and local communities through the arts and education and we very much hope the implementation of the recommendations in the Coates review will support and enable the Governors and staff who so often express their desires to deliver high quality services and programmes, to do so.

To read the review in full please click here.

Full article »

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