ISCRE wins grant for theatre project to raise aspirations in Suffolk’s young offenders

The project is being run in conjunction with the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BR

The project is being run in conjunction with the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A charity has secured funding to deliver a project that uses the power of storytelling to help vulnerable young people in Suffolk reflect on their past and make better choices in the future.

The Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) has been given £9,100 from the National Lottery’s Awards for All fund to run ‘Meta-More-Force’ in conjunction with Black Theatre Live and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.

The programme will involve three stages of the work.

The first (Meta) will see young people at risk of offending invited to take part in workshops to encourage them to explore their life journeys, articulate their aspirations and fears for their future.

In the second (More) stage, experienced facilitators will work with prisoners to support them to embrace the art of storytelling using writing, reading, poetry and song.

For the final part (Force), prisoners will be able to record their performances, which will be shared with an audience of young people who participated in workshops, members of the community, ex-offenders, Suffolk Constabulary and Suffolk Youth Offending Service, followed by a question and answer session about the production.

The grant was awarded to ISCRE based on its long-standing and successful work in two Suffolk prisons, Highpoint and Warren Hill, delivering artistic projects for those behind bars.

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Keiran Manners, ISCRE’s community diversity officer, said: “These projects made us realise that giving a platform to disenfranchised young people might help them to turn their lives around before they find themselves in the prison system.

“At the same time, this project enables prisoners to share something of their experiences and indirectly provide impetus to those young people to take a different path.”

Meta-More-Force, a play on the word metamorphose, will focus on certain parts of Suffolk where there has been a recent upsurge in youth-related crime. This includes south-west Ipswich where there has been a dramatic rise in violent and sexual offences.

Mr Manners added: “This unique arts project will give disaffected young people a chance to articulate their life stories, build confidence and self-belief, and take ownership for improving their future outcomes.”

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