HMP leeds: Violence Reduction Project

This week saw our second delivery of four at HMP Leeds. Nella worked with a small group to explore and raise awareness of gangs and violence reduction. The group were engaged from the start with the help of two Unlock Drama Peer Mentors who had completed the previous project on psychoactive substances; offering peer lead learning and a sustainable approach to our deliveries.

The whole group were engaged, enthusiastic and offered helpful insight into gang culture, violence and especially how it can sometimes be exacerbated in prison - even though only one of the members had experience of gangs. They offered realistic scenarios of how someone may get involved in a gang in prison through debt with other prisoners, postcode wars in the community and protection. 

The play centred around Brian who had fallen into gang culture due to a debt he had acquired by borrowing vapes off a gang older named ‘Stacks’. The performance showed how gang culture and violence affects more people than just the immediate victim and perpetrator through our analysis of the ripple effect. 

Through consequential thinking we altered some of the scenes in order to break the chain of events that lead to Brian being involved in a gang and going on to commit acts of violence.

Despite some unforeseen circumstances that meant group size was altered slightly, everyone who participated was enthusiastic when it came to participating in all aspects of the project. 

Feedback from the week includes: 

  • "I have gained more confidence to use my voice."
  • "It is really good you talk about issues in this way as it is engaging, where as other things like ‘sitting down and talking’ aren’t."
  • "I didn’t think I would enjoy this week as much as I did. I want to be on the next one."
  • "This project has given me more awareness of issues people experience and how to look out for them or others dealing with them."
  • "Unlock Drama had a brilliant second week working with HMP Leeds and we look forward to being back in May. Huge thanks for the excellent support provided by Officer Bailey, who was fantastic in all areas of the project - a real credit and asset to HMP Leeds."