Glasgow based community theatre group Theatre Nemo has been presented with the Robin Corbett award from the Prison Reform Trust at a prestigious ceremony at the House of Lords.
The annual award is given for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners by a charity or community group and Theatre Nemo’s nomination came from Derek McGill, Governor of Barlinnie Prison. Although nervous about the big occasion, Chief Executive, Isabel McCue, knows only too well the benefits recognition can bring “The nice thing about awards is that it means we get publicity, our work is out there and more people know about what we are trying to do. We are trying to change people’s attitudes.
Theatre Nemo was set up in 2000 by Isabel after the death of her older son, John who suffered from mental health issues and spent short periods behind bars. Since then they have been running workshops for prisoners, many of whom have social and mental health problems. Isabel said, “The workshops are designed to help prisoners feel better about themselves and gain more confidence. The people we work with have had chaotic lives and have a pattern of re-offending. We want to break this pattern and see how we can support them both in and out of prison. It’s all about trust and building up a relationship. When they are released we work with them so they continue to be engaged with a wide range of artistic activities from drama, animation through to drumming.
“This film shows Ryan, 27 from Glasgow, performing a rap he made up himself personifies our work. We make these men feel like they have something to give and not to give up. We step in to help distance them from crime. If people like Ryan were given half a chance they would have so much to give back to the local community.
The organisation has links with the Lottery that go back almost ten years. Isabel continues, “If we hadn’t had the initial funding and relationship with the Big Lottery Fund we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do and have the credible relationships with the prisons that we have. It gave us the evidence we needed to show that this approach really works.
Click here to find out more about Theatre Nemo.
Find out more about Big Lottery Fund here