27 Nov 2022

Films made by prisoners from HMP Wandsworth showcased at London’s Rich Mix Cinema in special celebration screening to celebrate Social Enterprise Day

On Saturday 19 October at London’s Rich Mix, film production company Inside Job Productions hosted an event screening celebrating films created through their Mental Health Media Production Unit at HMP Wandsworth.

The programme is focused on creating content that allows prisoners to consider their mental health, empowering them to do something they’ve never done before, developing new skills, and producing films that raise awareness of mental health issues and resources in prisons.

Since beginning in 2020, the Mental Health Media Production Unit has worked with over 100 people in the criminal justice system, producing over 20 films. The programme, run by Inside Job Productions, with a grant from His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, focuses on mental health and the wellbeing that comes from engaging with film. Mental health and wellbeing is a key focal area of Inside Job Productions as a social enterprise, a company invests profits in media based projects offering training and employment to people living with mental health difficulties. 

Within the criminal justice sector, they are pioneering a new approach to the delivery of key information about mental health and wellbeing to people in custody. The Mental Health Media Production Unit is lifting the lid on wellbeing issues faced by people in prison, providing film production training and generating relevant film and digital content.

Those on the training programme have scripted, directed, shot and produced a range of films that centre around issues that are important to them – family, relationships, justice, wellbeing; the same things that matter to us all. The programme aims to inspire and empower those who take part to believe they can change their lives, and equip them with the skills and confidence to do just that. 

Rus, a participant said:

“I’ve learnt so much in such a short amount of time working with Owain, Kiz and the Inside Job Productions team. When I look back at where I was just a few months ago, I can’t believe how much I’ve been able to do. I really hope to continue developing my skills in filmmaking bring it to my community.”

Owain Astles, Project Producer, says “Working with these guys has been amazing. From the early days when they were unsure about anything film production related, to today, when their films are up on the big screen for everyone to see – it’s been quite the journey. The skills they’ve developed, the confidence they’ve gained, and the films they’ve created are all something they should be very proud of. And it’s proof that this kind of skills based cultural engagement really works.”  

Ann Summerhayes, Managing Director of Inside Job Productions says “Everything we do at Inside Job Productions is about making life better for those with mental health challenges. More than half of prisoners have some kind of mental health difficulty, and often this began before they were in the criminal justice system. The Mental Health Media Production Unit aims to support these people by encouraging confidence, skills development and creativity, and the results, as we have seen today, are amazing.”

Studies have shown that engaging with arts, culture and media improves behaviours inside prison and upon release in the general community.. 

The Ministry of Justice reoffending analysis for the Prisoners Education Trust showed that grants for arts materials to prisoners saw a reduction in reoffending in a control test from 35% – 30%. Old data from the Ministry of Justice found that there were decreased rates of reoffending for criminals receiving grants and support from organisations such as Prisoners Education Trust of between 4 and 8 percent. Evidence from the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance indicates that arts projects are effective at improving in-prison behaviour (such as compliance with rules and engagement with the regime) and individual psychological factors (such as depression and a sense of purpose). They also found definite links shown between the arts and increased self-control and problem solving.

HM Prison Wandsworth is a Category B men’s prison at Wandsworth in the London Borough of Wandsworth, South West London, England. It is operated by His Majesty’s Prison Service and is one of the largest prisons in the UK.

Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social or environmental purpose. Ove 100,000 social enterprises are operating in the UK, contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing around two million people, according to Social Enterprise UK.

It’s all about prioritising people and planet over profit. Social enterprises use their profit to further their mission and create better outcomes for the cause they serve. They can help improve social justice, reduce economic inequality and do business in a better way to create a fairer world.

Inside Job Productions have been operating as a social enterprise since 2006, committed to supporting those facing barriers to employment through initiatives focusing on mental health.