Major Award 2015

Jacqui Adeniji-Williams

theatre event involving ex-offenders

Their story, in their words…

“The message that I want to share with my community and young people is that our future is not determined by the mistakes that we make or by the negative labels and stereotypes that are put upon us.

I was inspired a few months ago, when I was apart of a project where a group of 12 talented artists that worked with 10 ex-offenders to narrate their life stories and experiences through the creative arts. I pitched my idea to the organisation (You Press) that delivered the project and they agreed to help support me as and when I need.

The idea for my event is to shed light on the challenges and roots of crime and reoffending through poetry, spoken word and music as well as to tackle the stigma associated with ex-offenders. Also, I wanted to provide an opportunity for everyone involved to grow and develop and have an increased understanding of each other and themselves, which will increase their self-confidence.

I learned that the vast majority of ex-offenders have a complex range of social problems and that has a link between re-offending and social exclusion. Especially in the areas where the participants live are areas with historically and continuously high levels of crime.

I have also learned that the opportunity to participate in a creative arts project develops new transferable skills that will enable young people to have better chances in life and I believe this understanding builds stronger communities.

It took 2 solid months of hard work and dedication, from rehearsing every week to making constant phone calls and emails to make my vision happen. Then on Saturday 3rd October 2015 it all came together.

It was an amazing night of powerful performances, laughs, networking, and entertainment. My event additionally inspires young people in my community to overcome challenges and to pursue their dreams with no limitation.

I showed that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and put in the hard work to make it happen, and as well as pushed myself as a creative/artist. I have also learnt that behind every negative label or stereotype there is a real person with dreams and aspirations just like you and I.”