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


Creating Community Archives

The project:

In Spring 2012 we ran Creating Community Archives in County Durham, a project using archives and libraries as a starting point for people inside HMPYOI Deerbolt, to explore the historical events which shaped their communities, examine their ideas and experiences of community and contribute their own archival material.

How it happened:

14 young men between the ages of 18 and 21 who were in HMPYOI Deerbolt were chosen to take part in the four-week project. There was an overarching theme of World War Two, which lead to the men talking to and learning from World War Two veterans from the local community.

What the project produced:

An exhibition was produced which was bought to Palace Green Library at Durham University. It involved all of the archival evidence that the participants of the project had found; through using the prison library, archival documents and interviewing the local World War Two veterans. As well as this the participants took part in a presentation at the prison, which consisted of role-play, performance and music.


The participants of the project gained an understanding of the importance of collecting archive materials and learning from them. They also found the project gave them increased confidence and self-esteem. As well as this, they gained a deeper interest in World War Two and their local history in general. The older community members who took part in the project reported changed attitudes about young people in prison.



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