In 2018, I was offered the opportunity to completed research with Past Time
by the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Wolverhampton,
involving Ride-out facilitation of a prison-based food history and theatre
residency, working with prisoners who have a history of self-harm. As part of the Welcome Trust funded ‘‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’ project, Past Time explores the changing nature of prison food and its effects on physical and mental health through a series of workshops using theatre techniques.
Significant numbers of people in prison suffer from poor mental health
(National Audit Office, 2017). Nevertheless, spending on prison healthcare is
low in relative terms, with only an estimated £400 million covering the costing of both mental and physical health across prisons in the financial years 2016 -2017 (National Audit Office, 2017). Tackling mental health in prisons is not only beneficial for individual prisoners while incarcerated but improves their coping skills upon release back into the community, and ultimately has an impact on reducing re-offending.
The research assistant role involved evaluating the project and exploring
whether there has been any improvement in the participants coping skills
following the completion of the project. A mixed-methods approach was adopted using questionnaires, interviews, and a COPE inventory, which was analysed using SPSS to review the participants coping skills. The questionnaires were created by me to ensure a holistically approach was used to understand how the prisoners felt and explored their coping skills. Each participant completed a questionnaire and COPE inventory before taking part in Past Time. Following the completion of the project, each participant completed the COPE inventory a second time and took part in a short one-to-one interview. After the theatrical production, a thematic analysis was used for the qualitative data, to establish any common themes, to see whether the project has improved their coping
In July 2018, the research project was on display at the Tate Modern in
London – Warwick Tate Exchange ‘The Production of Trust, Justice, and History.’
Please review the link for the summary of the project and of the evaluation.
National Audit Office (2017) Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, NHS England and Public Health England Mental Health in Prisons [online]. [Accessed 19 May 2018]. Available at: <https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Mental-health-in-prisons.pdf>.