Working in NW prisons

Making a Change is a long-term programme we have been developing since 2016 in partnership with Novus.

During the last few years Horse and Bamboo have been ‘Making A Change’.  In conjunction with NOVUS, who provide prison education, we’ve been running week-long workshops at sites around the North West, designed for parents serving sentences in prison.

These creative sessions show people how to use the sort of things you’ve seen and heard in our own shows, storytelling, craft and creativity, puppet making and performance, with the intention of improving the connection between parent, child and family members.  We also invite these families to attend children’s theatre shows in theatres and venues near them.

The opportunity for a child to take home something their Dad has created, or reread a story that’s been written and acted out just for them, has a genuine value.

The Prison Reform Trust tells us that England & Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe, and Barnardo’s figures show that over 200,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment.

Children with a parent in prison are : 

Twice as likely to experience conduct and mental health problems 

Less likely to do well at school 

Three times more likely to be involved in offending

Prison visits are in an often hostile, adult environment where physical contact or play is difficult or discouraged.  But research shows that strong family links help prevent male reoffending, reducing rates by up to six times.

Feedback from prisoners and their families :

‘The course was better than expected as it opened my imagination and made me think out of the box…I think the course was great and is something I really enjoyed and felt engaged and a part of, especially because of tutors Alastair and Sue. Thank you’.

‘I first thought this course was not for me, but as I got into It, it got better…I’m so happy I stuck to the course and got it done’.

‘On Monday I wasn’t really sure it was for me.  But come Wednesday I got stuck in and really enjoyed being involved …I learnt if your put your mind to it you can achieve anything’.

‘(I learnt) to get along as a group and use your creative imagination…Thanks for coming out of your way to bond with the prisoners’.



‘I learnt I can actually be creative when I try and to have more confidence in my own ability…(I) wish (we) had more things like this available more often’.

Did you learn any new skills? ‘Yes, working together, taking myself out of my comfort zone. It helped me think of my family’.

‘Thank you for getting me involved and helping me connect with my family again’.

‘it was great for the boys to be more interactive with their Dad…its enabled him to be more creative and improved his social skills’.

‘He enjoyed making it and he’s previously missed (our) son’s birthday, so felt as though he could give him something he personally made’.

‘(I) thought it was brilliant. He made it personal to the children, including their names. It’s a keepsake for them’.

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