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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Anne Frank Exhibition returns to HMP Peterborough

Life on The Wing on the Inside, Anon, HM Prison Wandsworth
Art by Offenders-Courtesy of the Koestler Trust
A very welcome return (3rd time) to the only dual purpose built prison for men and women. Kept separate at all times, both sides of the prison are a complete mirror image of each other. The men’s side contains approximately 480, and the women’s side 360 plus a 12 place mother and baby unit. A privately run (Sodexo) establishment, both modern and well managed.
The Anne Frank exhibition started on the women’s side during the first half of the run, and was enthusiastically presented by a core group of 10 women prisoners, who after training, acted as exhibition guides and peer educators, presenting the exhibition to both prisoners as well as staff and visitors. The event was extremely appreciated by all who visited, and the closing ceremony was open to the women’s families to attend. The ceremony was very moving as well as being a celebration of their achievements as guides.
The second part of the event was in the men’s prison, and again we were fortunate to have such a committed, enthusiastic group of prisoner guides to work with – they did a fantastic job!

Mrs Eva Clarke (Holocaust survivor) was our guest speaker in both establishments, and was very well received and appreciated by both audiences. Eva was miraculously born in Mauthausen concentration camp just before the camp was liberated, and both mother and child survived these horrors. In fact, Eva’s mother Anka Bergman recently celebrated her 95th birthday surrounded by 4 generations of her family.

Our very talented creative writer Leah Thorn, once again, encouraged  the prisoners to produce some very powerful poetry using the themes of Anne Frank’s story as well as exploring their own personal experiences and feelings.
Steve Gadd presented the interactive debate ‘Free 2 Choose’ which explores various human rights issues to a group of over 30 male prisoners the week after the exhibition, and was knocked out by the lively response of the audience. It was a  great opportunity for the prisoners to freely express their opinions on all sorts of topical issues, and enjoy the informality of this type of workshop.
We are extremely grateful to Donna Jones (Decency Manager) for all her hard work in organising the event and to all the staff and departments involved in the project, as well as the continued support from Director Nick Leader, for all our work in prisons over the years.

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