Evaluating creative writing programme

26 November 2014
An independent evaluation of a creative writing programme delivered in 28 UK prisons demonstrated that creative writing and other arts opportunities positive experiences, improved literacy and employability skills.

More than 250 prisoners took part in the Write to be Heard creative writing workshops, with 82% of them saying that the workshops made them think differently about themselves. The project also included a national creative writing competition that attracted 265 entries.

National Prison Radio broadcast 31 of the entries, and prisoners were involved in designing the publicity, piloting a questionnaire and broadcasting the programmes.

Workshops a catalyst for change

The evaluation report explores the perspective of prisoners, participating arts organisations and competition entrants. It shows that creative workshops can be a catalyst for change and can offer a pathway into engagement with more formal learning opportunities.

Other key findings found that:

  • the impact of creative writing projects was far-reaching for both prisoners and staff
  • prisoners were keen to write, especially if it resonated with personal experience
  • the workshops provided a safe environment to build self-confidence while the competition was a change for the prisoners to be heard through the medium of writing
  • the workshops provided pathways into engagement with more formal learning opportunities
  • creative writing can act as a catalyst for positive changes, including the maintainance of good relations with families and friends
  • workshops delivered by outside experts are a professional development opportunity
  • arts champions within the prison were vital to the success of creative projects, providing a link between the prison and external agencies. 

Write to be Heard: supporting offender learning through creative writing was commissioned and funded by the National Offender Management Service, and was a collaboration between National Prison Radio, the National Offender Management Service’s Learning and Skills Team, Arts Alliance and Geese Theatre Company.

Download the full report at the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice website.

Download Write to be Heard: supporting offender learning through creative writing



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