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Prison Partnership Project

About the project

The impact of the Prison Partnership Project in prisons and at York St John University.

Actors in prison setting, queuing

The Project in the Prison

The York St John University Prison Project provides a continuous weekly programme of arts activity that develops participant's:

  • Creativity
  • Self-worth
  • Interpersonal thinking skills
  • Empathy awareness
  • Group problem solving
  • Rehearsal for life role-playing.

Our programmes build on prisoner's existing strengths and potential and encourage positive engagement and creativity, in order to promote meaningful personal change and to support restoratative justice. The project enables collaborative arts making to happen outside of the mainstream traditional theatre or educational learning space and looks at life beyond university and the prison walls.

It aims to encourage a positive impact on the culture of the two prisons through its pro-social learning and group work approach, complimenting other reducing reoffending and resettlement activities within the prison.

Co-designed with prison staff, the project offers choices of creative arts delivery and presents opportunities for co-evaluation and co-research in order to evidence the impact of the project and the value of the arts in the criminal justice system.

The Project for the University

The project encourages undergraduate and postgraduate students to engage with social justice. We facilitate on and off campus learning and offer an authentic real-life opportunity to students while studying.

The university opens its doors to:

  • Women who have been released on temporary licence (ROTL) from the open prison, engaging in resettlement arts
  • Women post release, are signposted to access staff expertise, student collaboration, campus performance opportunities, technical equipment and library resources.

The partnership project supports emerging student practitioners and artists in skills development within this area of practice, in realising the benefit and value of the arts for social change, gender responsive and trauma informed ways of working and the importance of a university's role in shaping quality arts within the criminal justice system.

Our team

Rachel Conlon

Rachel Conlon

Director of the Prison Partnership Project, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre

Jessica Robson

Jessica Robson

Catherine Birch

Catherine Birch

Senior Lecturer: Music

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