“Penned Up” festival launches annual strive to promote Literacy.

In March 2017 Weston College co-hosted its first Literary Festival at HMP Erlestoke. Titled “Penned Up” the festival was supported by our partners in the prison, Bath Spa University as well as funding from the Arts Council and a huge amount of work from our Reading Patron David Kendall.

A great success, the events over the fortnight of the festival served to promote the importance of Literacy through a range of speakers and workshops and demonstrated the outstanding impact of collaborative partnership working in our prison departments. We were blessed with a wide range of speakers including Billy Bragg, Dreda Say Mitchell and Kit De Waal who will open our 2018 event. the feedback on the events was superb and clearly learners found the experiences inspirational. It so inspired us that 2018’s event will be even bigger and better.

To be held over two weeks in late March with speakers including ex England footballer Tony Adams, Levi Roots and later in the year, Terry Waite. An exciting whole prison approach to promoting Literacy, the organising committee is made up mainly of learners who are fully embedded in planning, running and promoting the events. It is the learners who contact the authors and work together to arrange the schedule and to promote the events around the prison. This is just part of the way that HMP Erlestoke continues to lead the pack in promoting Literacy and our exceptional team of peer mentors are central to this – helping learners achieve the Double Gold Reading Ahead Award last year and on target for the same again in 2018.