Snapshot of the room: Tara 

In the first session Tara walks in, hands in pockets, eyes down, straight to her probation worker and says

'I don’t want to be here – I just need help with my housing. I don’t want to do some arts thing, what’s the point!?'

Her probation worker asks her to stay for one session and then decide.

In her last session Tara, head raised, shares her work with the rest of the group. She is proud, caring and speaks about how the programme has opened her eyes to herself, to the strength of other women and to poetry as a way of expressing her complex life and current situation. She talks of joy, she laughs, she cries. Tara signs up for anything we do next and she and her probation worker sit side by side understanding each other and communicating efficiently and most of all smiling broadly.

 The next year – Tara has had a tough year but has come back to say hello and wants to know if we need any help with Creating Change, she would love to support it.


Creating Change is a participatory arts programme that invites women on probation to step out of their often complex lives and come together to share a positive experience. Through carefully selected tasks focusing on teamwork, joy and empathy we then embark on making something creative together as group. Each course ends with a celebratory sharing of whatever the women have produced; poems, photographs, video material and personal contributions.


The programme encourages reflection, confidence and expressive thinking through playful togetherness. In a connected environment everyone is encouraged to listen and each voice is heard, increasing trust, self esteem and agency.



"As soon as I came in, my nerves went, I didn’t want to go somewhere and be treated like a criminal. It feels homely” (Participant, Aldershot, 2018)


“I really like the various metaphors they [BearFace Theatre] use to look at trigger areas/strengths and who your support networks are. It helps Individuals build confidence, communication skills and self-awareness” (Probation Practitioner, Southampton, 2019)


"It’s making people come out of their shells and bond with people they wouldn't normally bond with. Knowing people from different backgrounds opens your eyes to different things, new opportunities, things you wouldn't have thought of." (Participant, Basingstoke 2019)

"I can see the benefit of this. I first heard this was going to be acting and I really didn't want to do it, but you don't even realise you're doing it" (Participant, Southampton, 2020)



“Seeing the Service Users engage and enjoy in the programme so much has helped me realise the value that a creative, fun and active programme can bring and the progress it can allow the women to make. For the future I now feel that I have skills and activities I can use in my own sessions to make it more effective for Service Users” (Probation Practitioner, Cosham 2020)



"This is contagious practice and a real investment for staff to experience” (Probation Practitioner, Isle of Wight, 2020)

"Getting us to do activities and then sitting down and working out what it means to us and how it relates to our lives - it makes you think about how changing certain things could change your life. I find that really interesting. I've found something different in me." (Participant, Basingstoke, 2019)





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