Write Here! Open Doors Creative Writing Project

The Open Doors Creative Writing Project took place between 2013 and 2015 at HMP Sudbury and HMP Foston in Derbyshire. Four writing workshops took place at Foston and five at Sudbury.

The workshops at Sudbury were delivered by single experienced writers – Jeremy Duffield, Carol Rowntree-Jones, Rosie Reed and Pippa Hennessy. The workshops at Foston were delivered by the same writers, but delivered in pairs. Both sets of workshops took place in the Prison Libraries, with organisational help from the Prison Librarians Lorna Patterson (Sudbury) and Liz Holgate (Foston).

The project was funded by Writing East Midlands, Derbyshire County Council through Literature Development Officer Ali Betteridge, and a financial contribution was given by each prison. The project was coordinated by Open Doors, the organisation which brings writing into prisons with the aim of improving wellbeing and creativity for those in custody.

Feedback showed that following the workshop, participants felt more confident about their writing, about reading out their writing and about talking to others generally. Many found it a welcome break in routine, giving them the opportunity to be creative and boost their confidence. They were pleased with what they achieved, felt it was good to put thoughts on paper and that it made them feel better in general.

What participants liked about it included listening to others, the writing itself, the interaction with others, the freedom of writing about what they wanted to,  one ‘talking about my children’ and one ‘talking about her memories’. Of the things participants were most proud of one said, ‘writing when I didn’t know I could’, several talked about speaking out and listening, and one said ‘writing about my husband who has died – I have never been able to before’