Community service sessions

We have worked with young people in trouble with the law since 2004. Initially we took referrals from London Probation and since 2011 from Lambeth Youth Offending Services.

These sessions currently run on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 4 and 6PM. We are welcoming volunteers to help us run these.

We train young people in design and making and through our community service sessions with young people they are able to leave their mark on the public realm. Our installations are permanent. They prove the young people have paid back, as well as affirming they contributed to uplifting their local environment. We concentrate on participants’ strengths and talents, and seek to broaden horizons and open up new opportunities. These sessions also include sports (in our local park), film (at the BFI), visiting galleries (Tate Modern, National Gallery and others), visiting shows and events (in the cultural venues around the Southbank).

Our studio has learned through these sessions that the young people in our community are very talented. We have developed our structures to the point where we have a model alternative to custody. This means strategically we can offer for the government to move away from prisons as a way of punishing offenders. Public opinion is currently assumed to be in favour of prisons, although the evidence shows:

  • Prisons do not work, with between 50-70% re-offending rates
  • Prisoners become better networked for crime
  • It’s easier to get drugs in prison that outside
  • Violence and bullying within prison is endemic
  • They are very expensive

The movement for the Abolition of Prisons is building up its evidence base. We are aware public opinion is vital for making the change and so alternatives like ours need to be researched and tested. Our view is that offender sentences should become more flexible. Artisan studios designing and servicing a range of activities to make neighbourhoods better from public housing and community building, to horticulture and sculpture among others, should become part of a progressive cause in the 21st Century.