Ballad of Highpoint jail

A PROJECT to introduce a part-time salaried writer at a Suffolk prison was last nightwelcomed.The post will pay an annual salary of £12,500 for 18.5 hours work a week and is funded by Arts Council England and the Offenders and Skills Unit, which is under the remit of the Department for Education and Skills and the Prison Service.

A PROJECT to introduce a part-time salaried writer at a Suffolk prison was last nightwelcomed.

The post will pay an annual salary of £12,500 for 18.5 hours work a week and is funded by Arts Council England and the Offenders and Skills Unit, which is under the remit of the Department for Education and Skills and the Prison Service.

Highpoint Prison, near Stradishall, is one of five prisons and young offender's institutions across the country that are set to benefit from the project.

The positions are being advertised now and it is hoped the successful applicants will start by October 1.


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Clive Hopwood, director of the Writers in Prison Network, said the scheme will offer great benefits to inmates.

“We are looking for professional writers to work two or two-and-a-half days a week,” he explained.

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“They'll be going into Highpoint and working with prisoners and staff on a whole range of artistic ventures.

“It benefits inmates hugely. The public image of a typical prisoner is that these are people who are tough and rough, whereas in fact most of them have very low self-image and esteem.

“You give them an arts project to connect with and it is a huge benefit to their confidence. It shows them that they can achieve something and for many it's the first time they've been a success.

“There are lots of positive spin-offs from this.”

Mr Hopwood said he expected more than 200 applications for the writer in residence posts, which were launched in 1992.

He added: “For the writers themselves, I would say it's the hardest job they've ever done - but also the most satisfying.

“Almost to a man they come out with more skills than they went in with and are more enriched.”

Leslie Warmington, the Suffolk County councillor who covers Highpoint, welcomed the project.

He said: “It's got to be a good idea. It's been proved time and time again that writing is very good therapy for people like prisoners. I can't think of anything to say against it.”

Caroline Kirk, chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board for Highpoint, also praised the planned introduction of the scheme.

She said: “I think it's a splendid idea. They had one come in from Wayland (Prison) to do a course and it was a big success.

“The last one they did, he organised a book that they all contributed to with short stories and poems. They also put on a play which was a very big success.

“It was all very positive. All that sort of thing gives them (the prisoners) wider horizons.”

For more information about the scheme call the Writers in Prison Network on 01938 811355, or write to them at PO Box 71, Welshpool, SY21 0WB.

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