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Prisoners at HMP Stocken in Stretton take part in the Hope Project

Art may not be able to cure disease, but it can make coping with a variety of mental health problems easier.

Research has acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of art and has helped people to express their feelings in a way that they would not normally be able to do, having a positive effect on mental health.

In a bid to promote positive wellbeing, the Hope Project was introduced at HMP Stocken in Stretton with each prisoner being gifted an art kit and canvas.

Hope artwork created by prisoners at Stocken Prison
Hope artwork created by prisoners at Stocken Prison

Carl Bearley, Hope Project creative director at HMP Stocken, said: “When people receive a prison sentence it is their ‘freedom within society’ that is taken away. Destroying their mental health is not part of the sentence.

“As staff within the prison environment it is our duty to safeguard and look after all inmates, so they can return to society a better person.”

During the month of April, the Hope Project was run as a competition at the Rutland prison with prizes for the best entries.

All paintings depicted the theme of hope and were displayed in the shape of the word ‘HOPE’ for an aerial photograph.

"This is such an ambitious and forward thinking project and the first for any prison in the country," said Carl.

The artwork will be displayed in a virtual exhibition and when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in a gallery exhibition where secret bids can be made.

At the exhibition there will also be a ‘Mystery Guest Painting’ but shoppers will not know the identity of the artist until they've paid and received their painting.

All money raised from this event and the sale of paintings will go to Young Minds, a mental health charity supporting children and young people.

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