Last Friday evening to be Highly Commended in the Best Initiative Impacting on Offenders or Ex-Offenders in Northern Ireland category.
It’s now 5 years since the Department of Justice NI invited us to collaborate on a variety of initiatives involving Young Offenders. Evidence suggests that young people in custody, who get involved in the Arts, are less likely to re-offend, so we decided to take up the challenge.
Out of that work came a touring project, based around a play by Davey Anderson called Blackout -about a young man from a troubled background who narrowly escapes a 9 year prison sentence. It ends with his wondering what comes next.
A student from Hydebank Wood College, who had just been through the Restorative Justice process, explained to me that when he was released, he hoped to talk to schools in the hope of dissuading others from making similar mistakes. He just didn’t know how to go about it. We did!
Both ideas were combined: a performance of the play, featuring 5 young actors, followed by a Q&A/discussion with a panel of young offenders, currently in custody, who would share their stories with pupils. 4 tours later and 11,500 young audience members have benefitted from it.
After the 2018 tour, we applied for the Legal Island NI Equality and Diversity Awards and we were delighted last Friday evening to be Highly Commended in the Best Initiative Impacting on Offenders or Ex-Offenders in Northern Ireland category.
We hope that watching the play and listening to the young men from Hydebank highlights a number of issues such as drugs awareness, domestic violence, alcohol and crime. An Instagram campaign supports the live event and a short film, watched by pupils afterwards, ensures maximum impact:
We are delighted that the Department of Justice continue to support our work and grateful to Legal Island for the recognition!