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Writing Within Walls – The Arkbound Foundation

Prison. It is a word that conjures up loss, bleakness and despair. A place where those who have broken the law are kept, both for punishment and for the safety of society. But behind these images are human stories, accounts of tragic mistakes and broken lives, woven in-between with hope. For those inside prison, it is hope that often keeps them going: for the future, for those they care for, and for the chance to start afresh upon release. This collection of 20 pieces by serving prisoners and people on probation explores the under-side of the criminal justice system – the side that does not make it into tabloids or documentaries. We get a chance to see the stories, thoughts and experiences of those condemned by the courts and, in many cases, by society too. Importantly, we learn how many are repentant of the past; how some are in the midst of their own battles for justice, and how all cling onto hope. Through their accounts, we have a chance to reflect upon our own lives, perhaps even drawing inspiration from pathways we barely avoided. In the words of Kody M in A Beautiful Thing: ‘So whoever you are, no matter what trial and tribulations you are going though, don’t ever let go of hope.’

In 2020 the Arkbound Foundation ran a national writing competition for UK prisoners and people on probation. Entries were decided upon by a panel of three judges, of which these stories represent the 20 winning pieces. We have used nicknames or initials of authors for safeguarding. All pieces have been carefully curated and edited by the Arkbound Foundation, whilst being sensitive of preserving the authors’ voices. The preface is written by retired prison governor and Chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Eoin Mclennan-Murray, who writes of the book: ‘The reader cannot help but be moved by some of these stories and it is remarkable that in such times of penal adversity there are those who are able to lift people up and sustain them when all else seems defeated. For many, it is hope that has kept them alive.’

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Written by vinehousedist

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