A new project to support care experienced young people in Polmont young offenders institute has been launched, thanks to a £142,000 grant from the Life Changes Trust. The project is being run by Impact Arts.
Impact Arts’ mission is to help people transform their lives through creative and arts based activities. Working in partnership with Barnardo’s and the Scottish Prison Service, their new project is called the Care and Opportunity, Celebration and Outcomes project (COCO). The project will provide care experienced young people in Polmont access to creative and artistic activities to help them improve their confidence and self-esteem, develop new skills and improve their life chances.
Care-experienced young people are often more at risk of poor mental health, homelessness, higher rates of early death, including suicide, and are at greater risk of offending behaviour.
Those who will benefit from the project in Polmont have also, in the majority of cases, experienced multiple disadvantage, often coming from communities affected by high levels of deprivation.
Impact Arts aim to work with young people and the local community to provide opportunities for change, and allow young people who have been in the care system to learn new skills and share their experiences in a way they may not have been able to do so before.
COCO project activities will focus on story-telling, including song-writing, DJ-ing, creative writing, visual arts and design.
Those completing multiple activity blocks will then have the opportunity to become peer mentors, giving them an opportunity to model positive behaviours and to build more positive relationships with staff, corporate parents and other support agencies.
Additionally, the project will improve the life chances of young people through offering accredited qualifications (for example ASDAN Creative Arts Award) which will support the transition back in to the community.
Jamie Proudfoot, Impact Arts Programme Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing a quality arts programme to care-experienced young people in Polmont. The nature of musical performance and writing means the Coco Project will be hugely valuable for the young men involved, offering a medium to express themselves and explore challenging ideas and emotions. The skills and abilities developed as part of that process will equip young people with the life skills and creative skills they will take with them on release.”