04 May 2012

From the inside out

insideout-featureYoung offenders are reaching out to help others thanks to the bright idea of an AWP colleague.

Early in 2011, an AWP advert asking for innovative ideas set in motion a chain of events which will change the lives of people leaving prison.

Counselling and Through Care Team (CARAT) manager Charlotte Richards had been told by young offenders that the drug and alcohol information available to them was, frankly, pretty useless. They didn't need information about hardcore addiction; they wanted help mainly to avoid the temptations of alcohol, cannabis and other 'recreational' drugs.

With funding from AWP and from The Prince's Trust, and with the enthusiasm of young offenders from HMP Portland in Weymouth, plans were made to produce a DVD. Story-boarded, scripted, filmed and edited by the prisoners and with the support and technical assistance of media students at Weymouth, the DVD is now ready to launch. It will be shown to young offenders as they leave prison, in an effort to guide them through what could be a difficult time.

Three of the prisoners involved in the film commented on what a difference the project has made to them. According to Haikeem, it was simply about being listened to: "It was good to be listened to appropriately because it meant we clearly knew what we were talking about."

For Brett, who played the main character in the DVD, it was about knowledge and getting things right. "We'd been able to make a difference. The other films and information didn't really apply to us.

Ryan summed up the feelings of many people involved in the project, telling us "I'm just glad we had the freedom to do what we think will actually work for the audience it needs to reach."

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