Prisoners have shown off their creative side to demonstrate the crucial role that education plays in curbing reoffending with a new postcard art exhibition.
A competition run by the Prisoners’ Education Trust to mark their 30thanniversary tasked people behind bars to express what education meant to them.
Prisoners talked about the power of education to transform their identities and have a positive impact on their mental health.
Some praised how learning challenged them while helping them feel free in an “enclosed” and “stifled” environment.
Six talented artists from prisons across England won the prestigious competition, with a total of 120 entries from almost 30 prisons.
The winning entries were sent to prisons across England and Wales, where inmates were then asked to answer the question of what education meant to them.
Some talked about how it could be difficult to keep healthy in prison, while others said education can improve mental health.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
One respondent from HMP Pentonville said: “Education removes any barriers in my mind. It removes the borders of my knowledge and wisdom to embrace fresh fields of understanding. It is uplifting! It is life!”
Daniel, who was highly commended for his entry to the postcard competition, wrote: “Without the access to education in prison, I truly would not be here. Suicide is a constant companion, often much closer than any of us would wish to admit. Without a determined direction, I am certain I would not be here writing this, having completed a degree comparable course with a grade of distinction.”
The Prisoners’ Education Trust has given tens of thousands of people the chance to study whilst in prison and asked prisoners to design cards that related to their courses.
One winner drew a garden in bloom by hand, representing the charity’s ‘Principles of Horticulture’ course, while another produced an impressive take on ‘Fisheries Management’.
Two of the winners came from HMP Buckley Hall, with other winners from Dartmoor, Isle of Wight, Eastwood Park and Send.
Rod Clark, Prisoners’ Education Trust chief executive, said: “To mark our 30th birthday, we asked learners to design postcards depicting our range of courses and to tell us what education means for them. Their designs and messages show us how vital education in prison is. It offers a lifeline and a way to cope, and it means someone can leave prison able and ready to build a positive future.”