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Staffordshire’s Youth Offending Service is celebrating after it has been awarded a Gold Award by the Arts Council England for its innovative work to address offending behaviour in young people through art. This was the first time that the Arts Council of England extended its invitation to apply for the award to Youth Offending Teams. The award has only previously been available for schools and colleges, which makes the award even more deserving.

We worked with ‘Artsmark’ and the Arts Council to support young offenders using art to help overcome problems and issues in their lives, support the service to reduce reoffending and promote public protection in Staffordshire.

13 young offenders participated in art workshops over two days delivered by artists from the Independent Community Arts Partnership.

The young people were shown how to use pastels and recycled materials and each created two portraits which they believed illustrated how they perceive themselves and how the community may perceive them.

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What did they think?

  • “I really enjoyed the art classes and enjoyed working with the artist. They listened to what I had to say and helped me put my feelings into a picture”
  • “It has helped me to think about my behaviour and the things I used to do”
  • “I am now more aware of my behaviour and how it affected people and what the public thought about me” 
  • “I’m going to try and keep myself out of trouble from now on”

Other projects

As well as working on visual arts the young people also got involved in "The Sonic” and “Make some Noise” projects which enabled them to create music and videos which reflect their experiences.

What's the benefit?

Evidence supports the reality that involvement in education, training, employment and purposeful activity is what makes the difference to a young person’s life and are strong protective factors in preventing offending.

Our dedicated staff have been working to engage young people using art as a strategy to deter further offending.

We believe the arts have the potential to transform lives, promote social inclusion, and cultural citizenship.

We are proud to be one of only three youth offending teams in England to have achieved the gold standard which demonstrates the level and quality of the work produced by young people.

Staffordshire County Councillor, Pat Corfield, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities said:

“Our youth offending service is one of only three youth justice settings to have received this gold accolade, and I am delighted for them.

The award clearly communicates the ethos of our youth offending service here in Staffordshire which seeks to re-integrate young people who are involved in the criminal justice system back into the community.

Many of these young people have complex issues, and it’s not always easy for them to consider how they feel. This use of art enables the young people to really express their thoughts and feelings and give them a focus to help them change their behaviour for the better.

The comments the staff and young people got from the Arts Council where marvelous, describing the project as exemplary. They also said that the project offered a stimulating and nurturing environment in which the young people could develop their artistic skills whilst giving them an opportunity to reflect and learn from the mistakes they have made in the past and the factors that may have led them to commit offences”.

Further information

Please see the Artsmark pages.

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