20 Jul 2022
A day with Mindsworth Media in HMP Wandsworth is never really the same.
Our social enterprise Mindsworth Media project in HMP Wandsworth is focused on creating content that allows people in the criminal justice system to consider their mental health, empowering them to do something they’ve never done before, developing new skills, and producing films that get seen far and wide.
Prison regimes are always changing but as we come out of a worldwide pandemic and get closer to ‘normal’ we’ve been able to spend more time with our participants making films. The participants usually start at 8.30am and work with us til 11am. After this they have lunch before coming back for a PM session, which is usually from 2pm – 4pm.
After all the yawns and coffees are out the way, a normal day will begin with a short icebreaker or mindfulness exercise, followed by a mood check-in on a scale between 1-10. We then go through the agenda for the day and create a list of priority deadlines for the projects that are in process. If we are in media training, then the lads will usually work from workbooks in the classroom space before going into anything practical.
As mental health and wellbeing are key factors within our project, we have started mindfulness journaling. We get everyone to firstly spend a few minutes just having a ‘brain dump’ and to release anything bothering them down on paper. We then offer for anyone to share anything they’d want to get off their chest and have a chat about any issues that have come up, and how we can look to address these through film. If not, we move on to the next thing on our agenda. This could range from anything to filming around the prison, joining a focus group, editing footage, celebrating one another’s wins and good news, or alternately being a listening ear.
Amongst the footy banter and political/current affairs talks, we ensure that we’re working on projects the inmates wish to work on and gather feedback on what projects they’d want to work on next. They usually work on their own films, however, they get to practically put their media training to the test on smaller in-house projects promoting wellbeing services and activities within the prison.
This may look like filming a passage from the Book Club’s ‘book of the month’ or filming the National Prison Chess Championship (which even got a feature on Channel 4 News!) to filming a Wellbeing Workout video production to help other inmates learn new exercises that will help with their general wellbeing. The beauty of this means that we have been able to work with more lads outside of the project and involve them in the films as actors, which they have loved!
The most exciting projects for us as facilitators would be those that our guys have scripted and directed themselves. So far, we have two key productions on the go, ‘Vicious Cycle’ and ‘Consciousness and Truth’. Both films are written and directed by two different participants and they both entail real-life experiences of mental health issues and finding support in the criminal justice system. Alongside these are those mentioned above, and we will start working on a film production titled ‘A Day In The Life’, about the daily stresses of both prisoners and officers, potentially helping both groups in understanding and working better with one another.
Written by Kismet, Production Assistant.
Don’t forget to check out more Mindsworth Production Assistant experiences here.