Over the last eight weeks charities and businesses alike have had to make unprecedently quick changes to the way they work and the services they offer. I felt that it was time we started to focus in these momentous efforts and give some space to share some inspiring stories from charities across the UK.
2makeit is a small charity working to support the rehabilitation of prisoners through creativity. Run by one full time member of staff, a keen team of trustees and volunteers plus a small number of facilitators. In March 2020 it became clear to charity CEO Philip that it would be impossible to continue their valuable work during this crisis and quick decisive action would be needed.
“We no longer have access to prisons or direct contact with those we help in the community, so we have designed a remote version of projects to send into prisons and an online version for access in the community.”
Before Covid-19 meant that we all had to stay indoors, 2makeit was running weekly choirs in a number of prisons, exploring ways to continue support through probation and addiction services as well as getting ready to repeat, for a second year, their successful visual art collaboration with the social enterprise Pictora.
‘Made Visible’ follows up a successful 2019 project in Hertfordshire. We planned to repeat this in 2020 with prisoners creating their own art for their own exhibition in the prison and then some of that art being used in similar exhibitions in partnership with agencies such as probation and JobCentre Plus for a community exhibition to celebrate the creative talents and employment potential of artists regardless of background. The exhibition does not label any of the artists, allowing the art to be appreciated for its own sake without the label of ‘offender’. The aim is to raise self-esteem by bringing often hidden talent out to be ‘Made Visible’.
Through the quick recognition that things would not be able to continue as normal, the charity changes tact to deliver this project remotely. As a result of these early efforts the project now has the potential to support the rehabilitation of prisoners and those on probation in more locations, increasing the reach beyond previous means. However, it is important to note:
“With the most vulnerable and excluded members of society there is no substitute for direct contact and support, although the activity changes will be a useful complementary service to our main provision in the future.”
It is important to remember that while this change to the way services are delivered was not strictly a digital one – it doesn’t involve digital technologies to deliver. It does show that the process we use to develop a digital product; defining a problem, testing solutions and refining what we produce are still valid.
To find out more about 2makeit visit their website: www.2makeit.org
To find out more about the Made Visible project please visit the website of their social enterprise partner, Pictora: www.pictora.org
To support their work please visit: www.justgiving.com/2makeit
What changes have you put in place to help ensure your vital work can continue? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story!