SPAN Placement Student – Blog

Eh from Canada,

My name is Denica and I am the current SPAN Placement student. I am currently in my 4th year studies in the Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Regina in Canada. I have been involved in the arts from a young age and attended the Alberta College of Art and Design for first year studied in 2012. I was employed as a Youth Care Worker while living in Regina and have worked with individuals whom have been involved in the criminal justice system. Canadian prisons lack art programming and it is scarcely recognized as a positive means of rehabilitation. Thus, I am interested in learning more about arts in prisons as a means of desistance and lowering recidivism, as well as to gain knowledge about the skills needed to facilitate art within prisons.

This blog will serve as an informal journal, but will also include presentations and information that attains to my learning at SPAN.

Denica Dione.



Link to Prison Perspective Questionnaire & Fact Sheet:
Interview for Prison Biases

Interview for Prison Biases – FACT SHEET


January 15, 2016:

Apart of my Learning Objectives I chose to evaluate the Aboriginal Holistic Model in relation to SPAN as well as the Scottish Prison Arts Network.  Bellow is a slide show presentation I created that briefly looks at the Aboriginal Holistic Model (used in a Social Work practice) in relation to SPAN, SPS and the arts.

Aboriginal Holistic Model




January 18, 2016:

Within Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been more heavily focused on, due to the high number of individuals who suffer from FASD, and the absence of resources for them.   Individuals with FASD may be affected mentally (behaviorally), emotionally and physically. Within studying FASD it has been discovered that over 50% of individuals with FASD are incarcerated. Refer to “Arts in Prison Resources, Research and Articles” [News –> Arts in Prison Resources, Research and Articles] for more academic resources.  Bellow is an FASD presentation, as well as an FASD pamphlet.  These may be edited in the future.

FASD – In Prison

FASD Pamphlet

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January 21, 2016

Interview with Katharine Brash – Head of Prison Contracts, FIFE College

Today I interviewed Katharine Brash, who is the head of prison contracts. I found her perspective of “Art in Prison” to be interesting and valuable. I am fond of direct quotes by individuals, so I thought I would review some of the key points Katharine touched on (the following is only short clips of the interview, however Katharine shared further explanations for each):

Q: “How would you describe ‘Art in Prison’?”
A: art in prison is one of the “most valuable routes or methods to support prisoners.”

Katharine further mentioned that she believes individuals may be isolated and withdrawn, but art enhances their social and emotional skills (communication). Katharine also said that art is often underestimated and undervalued.

Q: “What are some of the outcomes you have witnessed (within prisons), because of art?”
A: Art “brings the outside world in to them.”
Katharine mentioned that she recognizes social and emotional improvement following arts participation.

Q: “How would you build rapport in the workplace?”
A: “Listening and good communication…humor!”

Q: “What are some highlights of working within/with prisons?”
A: I have “seen so much achievement and success…the shifting of individuals mindsets, from closed to growth.”

Closing remarks: “Art has a different way of bringing out people”


Interview with Elly Goodman – Community Drama Artist – Citizens Theatre

Today I interviewed Elly Goodman. Elly spoke of her work within prisons with great passion and enthusiasm. I valued learning about how Elly began working in prisons, how her experiences shaped her teaching style and I was enthused in discovering that Elly uses an anti-oppressive approach (for example, in her choice of wording: “Prison is just a venue” for “people who happen to be incarcerated”). Elly does not label individuals by calling them “prisoners” or “offenders,” but instead her wording may be shifted to ‘those whom have been incarcerated,’ etc.

Bellow I have provided some ‘snip-its’ from my interview with Elly:

Q: “How would you describe ‘Art in Prison’?”
A: “Prison is just a venue” for “people who happen to be incarcerated”
“Art still has the same potential” within prison, as it would in any other venue
“Art has no bounds…art is boundless”
“Art heals people, that’s my belief.”

Q: “How would you build rapport in the workplace?”
A: … Humor…Trust…Respect…Listening, not over-talking

Q: “What are some highlights of working within/with prisons?”
A: Elly mentioned that some of the highlights of her work are being apart of and watching “the journey” of individuals, “Seeing people ‘get it’,” …how art assists people in finding “a sense of self…purpose and meaning.” Elly also mentioned watching individuals personal recoveries, as she recalled, following participating in art, one individual stating “I know where I am going now.”

Closing remarks: “Art is for everybody, whether it is making, or watching.”



January 25, 2016:

I have recently reviewed the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Code of Ethics and compared it with the Scotland Social Services Council (SSSC) Codes of Practice.  I recognize that the CASW and SSSC are similar, and that the wording is what differentiates them.
The CASW Code of Ethics can be found at:
The SSSC Codes of Practice can be found at:

Code of Ethics



January 28, 2016

Art and Confidentiality – A Canadian-in-Scotland Social Work Perspective

In studying the confidentiality of art therapy within prisons, I evaluated the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) “Guidelines for ethical practice,” Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) “Code of ethics: Standards of practice,” British Association of Social Workers (BASW) “The Code of Ethics for Social Work: Statement of Principles,” The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) “Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Practice for Art Therapists” and “Emotional access through art” by Labiba Haque. During my time within Scotland I feel that it is important to follow the CASW Code of Ethics as well as the BASW Code of Ethics, as both influence my social work practice. Further, the CATA and BAAT Code of Ethics will also impact my art-in-prison performance and style. Bellow is my understanding of confidentiality in terms of art in prison from a social work perspective. I chose to use quotations vastly to provide an understanding of the similar, and yet varied, wording of the Canadian and Scottish code of ethics.

Within a prison setting Canadian and Scottish social workers must explain confidentiality to prisoners and the limitations of confidentiality in accordance to law and avoiding imposing risks on themselves or others (CASW, 2005; The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee, 2014). The CASW Guidelines for Ethical Practice (2005) states that confidentiality should be discussed at “the earliest opportunity in” (p. 7) the client-social work relationship. Social workers must inform clients of “potential consequences” (CASW, 2005, p. 7) of the information they disclose and inform the individual of “circumstances where confidentiality must be waved” due to ethical requirements or the mentioning of an imposed risk to themselves or others (The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee, 2014, p. 14).

Under the social work Guidelines for Ethical Practice, if social workers have reason to believe their client intends to harm themselves or others, they must take action according to “provincial/territorial legislation, standards of practice and workplace policies” (CASW, 2005, p. 10). Canadian social workers may also “take action to prevent client self-harm without the informed consent of the client” (CASW, 2005, p. 10) and similarly Scottish social workers may act without informed consent as “required by law to protect that person or another from risk of serious harm” (The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee, 2014, p.12).

Within art therapy or prison arts, prisoners are able to express their thoughts on paper, however prisoners may not verbally communicate their thoughts or be physically unable to (Haque, 2011). Thus art therapists are trained to interpret meaning through colour, symbols and images (Haque, 2011). If the art displayed shows harm to the inmate or another identifiable person art therapists are obligated to report that “there is clear and immediate danger to a person or persons” (CATA, 2013. p.3) or if there is any “suicidal, homicidal, self-harming intent or ideation and disclosures of abuse” these must be reported and accurately recorded (CATA, 2013. p.7). Within a Scottish context, social workers are obligated to report “in circumstances, where the safety of the client, the therapist, those caring for the client, or the public would be threatened by non-disclosure” (The British Association of Art Therapists, 2014), p. 5).

For more information about prison art and confidentiality, visit the listed references.

The British Association of Art Therapists. (2014). Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Practice for Art Therapists: Confidentiality. The British Association of Art Therapists. Retrieved from:

Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) (2005). Guidelines for ethical practice. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW).

Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) (2013). Code of Ethics: Standards of Practice. Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA).

Haque, L. (2011). Emotional access through art. The Journal: Queens University — since 1873, 134. Kingston, ON: The Queens Journal. Retrieved from:

The Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee. (2014). The Code of Ethics for Social Work: Statement of Principles. British Association of Social Workers.

Canadian in Scotland


January 29, 2016


Canadian Slang—it just makes sense to me

“eh” – In Canada I’m not sure that we actually say “eh” that much, and if we do say it, it is in the context of “Eh, that was pretty good wasn’t it?” or “Eh, how’s your fam?” or “That sucked, eh?”   However, I have recognized that in Scotland a lot of people say “aye” as in “yes”….and it definitely throws me off…

“sick” – another term for “awesome,” “great,” etc. No, it does not mean ‘disgusting.’

In context: “Dude, your outfit is so sick!”

“rank” – crazy or unbelievable.

In context: “Man that movie was so rank, I can’t he died.”

“gongshow” – crazy, hectic, or as some people in the UK say—“banter.”
In context: “Don’t go to the mall, there is people everywhere and its crammed, it’s a gong-show.”

“beaut” or “beauty” – referring to something, that is done in an exceptional manner, or someone, who has done something in an exceptional manner.

In context: “Oh your such a beaut! Thanks for finishing that task for me!”

“keener” – someone who may also be referred to as a geek, teacher’s pet or in academic terms: someone who likes to get their work done on time and well done.
In context: “Sorry, I can’t go out tonight, I’m being a keener.”

“fer-sure” – also “for sure” which means ‘definitely.’

In context: “Yeah I’ll fer-sure be there by 7pm”


“bunnyhug” – apparently this is Saskatchewan slang, it means a ‘jumper,’ with a front pocket. Basically because it’s like a bunny is hugging you.

“toque” – another word for a knitted hat, used for ‘sledging’ or cold days


“poutine” – basically the best greasy food in Canada, in my opinion. Its ‘chips,’ with mozzarella cheese, covered with gravy.

“beaver tail” – a flat, fried pastry covered in sugar, fruit or syrup

“fry bread” – the best invention, ever. It’s also known as “bannock” or “fry bannock.” It’s dough that is fried in lard or oil. It can be eaten with jam, butter, syrup, or as an Indian Taco, amazing.


Scottish Slang—I just don’t get it

So far, I have had some mixed-messages about some of the slang. So here is what I’ve been told, correct me if I am wrong. It has been a hilarious journey trying to learn and understand the slang, but from a Canadian stand point, ‘I just don’t get it’!

“aye” – meaning ‘yes’

“banter” – I’ve been told it’s the variation of “gong-show”…but I am still unsure

“laddie” – male

“lassie” – female

“dodgy” – in Canada ‘sketchy’

“boot” – the back of a vehicle, in Canada “trunk”


“jumper” – an item of clothing, in Canada known as a ‘sweater’ or ‘pull-over’

“tartan” – a pattern, often on kilts

“wellies” – rubber shoes, also known in Canada as ‘rubber boots’


“chips” – in Canada we say ‘fries’

“crisps” – in Canada we say ‘chips’

Canadian Bannock (fry bread)

(Canadian Bannock aka Frybread…shaped like a heart because we love it, eh)



February 1 2016

Street Cones – Observing Rehearsal

This morning I had the privilege to watch the crew of Street Cones perform. Although I am still adapting to the strong Scottish accents (and therefore at some points I looked like a deer in headlights), I laughed along with the actors, but also felt the strong emotions they portrayed within their skit.

The Real Deal:

Within the skit the actors portrayed what it would be like to be processed into the prison. They went through the process of the prison guard (being called by a number, which I was shocked by—as it seemed inhumane to me), changing their clothes, being taken to the nurse and asking about addictions, having their belongings taken away, and not being able to call family in order to inform them of their whereabouts. All of the actors had their own stories and experiences to share—some explaining their bad experiences with various prison workers.

An Anti-Oppressive Environment:

At the beginning of the rehearsal everyone introduced themselves’ and mentioned their role within Street Cones. I explained why I was in Scotland and the current state of prisons within Canada. I was also able to share about Healing Lodges and intergenerational trauma that many Indigenous people confront. Throughout the rehearsal I engaged with the actors and was awed by their ability to act and improvise. What I most appreciated about the atmosphere of Street Cones was that I was unable to tell if any of the actors had ever been to prison, unless they disclosed their own experiences. I found that Street Cones operates through an anti-oppressive lens, in that labels are not applied and ‘your crime does not define’ you. During my interview with Elly Goodman we discussed this, and she mentioned how she has asks individuals whom are in prison “Does your crime define you?”


Observing Street Cones and interacting with the actors was inspiring. One of the actors spoke with passion about their work within the community and shared breakthroughs with youth that were possible because of the work Street Cones is doing. I greatly value the work that organizations within Scotland are doing, utilizing art as a positive outlet and resource and connecting with various individuals in various settings.



February 5, 2016

Chara Centre – Citz Theatre 

Chara Centre:

This morning I had the opportunity to join Elly Goodman and the Citizens (Citz) Theatre group at the Chara Assessment Centre in Glasgow. The Chara Assessment Centre provides accommodation for females ages 18 years and older. Before I discuss some of challenges that the females within the Chara Centre confront I would like to give a brief overview of the wonderful two hours that we shared…

Writing Words and Singing Songs:

When I first arrived at the Chara Centre with the Citz group I was greeted by the ladies at the desk who let us through to a room that was full of color. Colorful, triangular flags hung on the walls of the room, there were pictures on two large bulletin boards full of pictures and words and a small kitchenette for tea. Females shuffled in as we began to sing some warm-up songs. Some of the songs included ‘These Boots were made for Walking’ and ‘Summertime’ by Ella Fitzgerald. One of the females, with a wonderful voice, began to song ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis Presley, and everyone joined in. Carol Laula began to sing a tune and the group was to add a personal lyric in, which was often humorous. Then, we then began to talk about waxing, and somehow the talented Carol Laula strung up a hysterical song about it, by taking sentences of our conversation and placing them into a song.

We took a short break during the session and some of the females talked to me about their experiences. A lady sitting beside me talked about her travels to Canada, we laughed about the experiences she had. A few of the women began to comment on their experience working with the Citz Group:

It is..“a really good pick-me-up.”

“It’s things like this that keep the women going.”

“We often feel we’re in isolation…you wonder why we come here with so much energy…it’s a good release.”

Following sipping some tea, we concluded the session with rehearsing a hilarious song about waxing. All of the girls laughed, some danced, and others that were nervous at the beginning of the session were singing with all of their heart. It was amazing to witness how these women, whom have experienced much anguish, could take two hours out of their day to genuinely enjoy life, laugh, and reminisce. These women have talent, potential and strong hearts—something much of society often overlooks.

So, what has happened? – A Social Work Perspective

Following talking to one of the residence I became aware that many of the females had experienced domestic abuse, had been involved in the criminal justice system, and have issues with alcohol and drugs. However, I believe it is important to note that many of these issues are interlinked. Furthermore, as a Social Work student, talking with a few of the women I thought, “What was your childhood, your past, your early relationships that form your identity, like?” Societally, many of these questions are not asked—and instead blame is placed on the individuals, and not the societal structure and injustices that has occurred to these women that often leaves them vulnerable to homelessness, drugs, alcohol, criminal behaviour and abuse.

Stepping Out—Looking In:

As previously mentioned, this Friday’s group at the Chara Centre was song-oriented. The artistic medium changes each week (visual art, sing-song and writing, creative writing, acting). I am personally a visual artist and photographer. As noted, at the beginning of the session we were to contribute a personal lyric to a song. Singing terrifies me. Perhaps because of the common “you can’t sing” comments received as a child—singing scares me. However, in a Creative Social Work class my teacher once mentioned “You cannot refuse to step out of your comfort zone, and expect others to.” So, as it came my turn to sing, I did. My lyric included being from Canada, and saying ‘aye/eh.’ When I completed my 10 seconds of singing the whole group clapped and laughed, in a supportive manner. Personally, I found this boosted my own confidence and self-esteem, in short 10 seconds. From the outside looking in: how is this affecting the women within the Chara Project? From my point of view: Greatly. By the end of the session, a female who would not sing had joined in singing (and laughing) with the group.
RESULT: therapeutic laughter, expression of feelings and, perhaps most importantly, self-esteem.




February 9, 2016

HMP Shotts Prison – Visiting STIR Magazine and Artists

“Hi, my name’s Denica. I’m from Canada and I’m studying Social Work…”

Today my supervisor, Robin, accompanied me to HMP Shotts. We drove through a town that seemed quiet and scarce and headed on towards the prison. This was my first ‘in Scotland prison visit,’ so I was prepared by the “Artists Guide to Working in Scottish Prisons,” available on SPAN’s publications section of the website, as well as conversations I previously had with artists and individuals who have worked within the SPS system.

Entering the Prison

Entering the prison I saw a sign reading “C.C.T.V” meaning ‘Closed Curcuit T.V,’ meaning that, “you are always being watched” (as an art participant had later told me). Once Robin and I were in the building I presented my passport to the man at the front desk and stated whom I would be visiting (the Learning Center Organizer and STIR Magazine). The man clarified that no phones were allowed within the prison and I was asked to use the lockers to lock away my passport, scarf and keys. I then walked through a full-body scanner (similar to an airport) and my shoes were ‘swabbed’ and physically checked. To say the least, it is not a pleasant experience entering the prison.

Reflection: What is the experience of family members whom go through this process?

HMP Shotts – the low down

Following going through the numerous locked doors and voice-activated doors (for lack of a better explanation), we arrived at the Learning Center. Here, Ryan Dobbin provided us with information about the prison. Some basic facts:

– Max security            – 540 men            – 50-60% of the men are serving a life sentence

“When do I ever become an ex-murderer?”

We were then informed about the work within prisons, more specifically art education. Some valuable points made included:

  • Art allows individuals to mentally “be somewhere else”
  • Art assists people in developing an identity, separate from an “offender”

I believe that every human being has potential. Knowing that art allows people to develop a positive identity impacts their self-confidence and decisions—in other words, this is very important. As mentioned, one ‘prisoner’ asked: “When do I ever become an ex-murderer.” The sad truth is that these individuals will leave prison with a lifelong ‘prisoner’ label. Finding an identity as an artist, writer, poet, actor, and so forth, can open many doors to optimism and opportunities.

Humanize in a Dehumanizing Environment

Following talking with Ryan, I met an artist who works within the prison and she took Robin and myself to her classroom. I met 7 men who were serving a sentence. These 7 men are students, artists. I repeated my regular introduction “Hi, my name is Denica. I’m from Canada and I’m studying Social Work…” then began to interact with the artists (whom were, by the way—absolutely phenomenal). The first student showed me some of the student’s collages and we discussed them. As previously mentioned, following viewing the art that had ‘C.C.T.V’ written on it, I asked: “What’s C.C.T.V?” in which the student answered “Closed Curcuit T.V… you are always being watched.”

Reflection: what does ‘being watched at all times’ make a person feel like?

One student expressed that he was nervous discussing his art, and was working on becoming better at talking about his work. He explained his piece, which was a self-portrait and included layers of ‘himself.’ We discussed how he was forcing himself to step out of his comfort zone, something we similarly had troubles with. Another student beside me quietly said, “Being here is out of my comfort zone.” The next student I talked with said that art is “calming” for him. He said that when he becomes frustrated or angry: “I can paint and express myself in a non-violent way” he then quickly stated “—I’m not a bad person though!” I told him I did not assume he was a bad person, we then continued to discuss his art.

Reflection: What made this individual feel like he had to defend himself? What made him think that I would assume he is a ‘bad person’?

I then talked with an individual about his piece, which was a self-portrait and included clocks, around the face and more specifically over the person’s eyes. Before I could enquire about the piece, the student said, “Time passes before your eyes.” That was all that I needed to hear—as the piece then silently spoke the student’s thoughts, feelings and anguish.

STIR Magazine

We ended our short tour of Shotts in the STIR Magazine office, where students eagerly told Robin and myself about the work they had completed and their personal outlooks of art. Some of the statements mentioned about art included:
“cathartic”         “a peaceful way to get it (anger) out”         “it’s a way to humanize”

“it (art) has the capability of transforming lives”         “a bridge for communication”

“It makes you feel normal again.”

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February 10, 2016:

Interview: James King

 “I would like to see more art afforded to prisons”

This evening I had the opportunity to meet with James King, Head of Offender Learning, to discuss art within prisons. James perspective was significant and his advice on working within prison’s was wise. Bellow are some ‘Question and answers’ from my informal interview with James and myself:

Q: What are some of the outcomes you have witnessed (within prisons) because of art?A: “There is a change in attitudes towards life in general.”
Art provides an opportunity for people within prison to reflect, empathize, build self-esteem and confidence, develop communication skills, group work skills and improve in literacy

Q: What are some highlights of working within/with prisons?
A: “Fascinating place to work…Fascinating responses…There is a lot of talented people in prison.”

Q: What are some of the challenges of working within/with prison?
A: “We need to change with the times.”
James also mentioned that there continues to be a “penile mindset.”

Q: Closing comments?
A: “I would like to see more art afforded to prisons.”

“Punishment doesn’t end when the sentence has been served. For many, that’s when it’s just beginning. ” – Michael Palin (2015)

            Last month at the beginning of my placement I watched an online lecture presented by The Longford Trust, which featured Michael Palin, discussing prison, rehabilitation and reformative practice. Something that Palin said has continued to ring through my mind throughout the various interviews, visits and working with people whom have been to prison. Palin’s words: “Punishment doesn’t end when the sentence has been served. For many, that’s when it’s just beginning.” How relevant this is. Individuals within prisons leave with a lifelong label of “prisoner,” “ex-offender,” “thief,” “drug dealer,” so on and so forth. They are treated as less by companies whom will not higher them, by neighborhoods who fear them.

A relevant, and powerful video for social workers, artists, community organizations and overall: society. Check out:

(for a text version:



February 11, 2016

Today I had the opportunity to attend a SPAN Trustee meeting. Although not all of the trustee’s were present I was able to meet with Jess Thorpe (for the first time), Elly Goodman, David McQuatt and Robin Anderson. It was valuable to understand the structure of the Trustee Meeting and helpful to learn how the Trustee’s have, and continue to, individually contribute to SPAN and networking.

At the end of the meeting Jess kindly gifted me with some Mr. Kipling desserts as a ‘Welcome to Scotland.’ Are these desserts real life? So good.


February 12, 2016

Chara Project

Today I joined Elly Goodman and Rachel Mimiec at the Chara Centre. Rachel led an activity that involved creating stencils of a letter of significance, using a rubber pad and delicately carving out a letter. I chose the letter “D,” not only because it is my first initial, but also because the letter ‘D’ is an initial in many of my family members and close friends names. The participants also picked letters that signified herself, a family member or friend. Others, who did not carve out of a rubber pad, used stamps and a variety of colorful ink mats to make patterns with letters. A lady whom I sat beside wrote her son’s initials and wrote “the moon.” We discussed the significance of ‘the moon’ and how every night that she talks to her son she says “I love you to the moon and back.”

Reflection: Every session I am realizing more and more about how art re-creates individual’s stories. I believe it is virtually impossible for individuals to not pour their stories into their art work.


Community Collective

In the afternoon I joined Elly and Neil at the Community Collective. The session was unique for the reason that there were 25 students from the United States, whom were studying various forms of art. Together the Community Collective actors, 25 US students, Elly, Neil and myself, worked on short ‘Soap-Opera’ skits, which were initially formed by individuals preforming an ‘unconscious habit.’ Unconscious habits included: rocking on your feet back and forth, cracking your knuckles, playing with your hair, or for myself: biting my lip and covering my mouth. We then chose a partner and created a story with our ‘unconscious habit.’ Once we formed a ‘two line skit’ we joined another group (becoming a 4-person group) and concluding with joining another group (creating an 8-person group). Result: creativity and laughs.

Reflection: Acting allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. Also, the short story that my initial partner and myself created was a re-enactment of a situation I had been involved in a few years ago—a situation which had made me nervous (and my ‘unconscious habit’ (or gesture) exemplified a nervous behavior). This allowed me to practically understand what Elly once said to me: “Everyone wants to share their story.”



February 15, 2016 

Cornton Vale – Interviewing a Social Worker whom works within prison

“Offending is the final product of everything else that has happened.” – Social Worker

This morning I met with a social worker who works within HMP Cornton Vale.

Some key points discussed:

  • How a social worker must abide by two separate code of ethics/conduct 1) Social Work Code of Conduct (SSSC) 2) Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Employee Code of Conduct. This may subsequently cause a conflicting of values.
  • Models of Practice that are relevant within a prison social work practice, which is prominently eclectic. The models of practice commonly used include a Person (Asset) – Centred Approach, a Holistic Model and the Attachment Theory of practice.
  • Integrated Case Management (ICM) and the method of risk assessment (which I was informed is derived form Canada!) The Level of Service/Case Management Inventory: An Offender Assessment System (LCMSI). The LCMSI consists of 11 sections, including: Criminal History, Education/Employment, Family/Marital, Leisure/Recreation, Companions, Alcohol/Drug Problems, Antisocial Patterns, Procriminal Attitude Orientation, Barriers to Release, Barriers to Release, Case Management Plan, Progress Record, Discharge Summary, Specific Risk/Needs Factors, Prison Experience – Institutional Factors and Special Responsivity Consideration.
  • Reflection: The social worker made a valid point about individuals whom are in prison, and it has resonated in my mind. She said “Offending is the final product of everything else that has happened.”

For more information about Integrated Case Management (ICM):

For more information about The Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LCSMI):



February 16, 2016

Hidden: Hands on Day  

Today I attended the ‘Hands on Day’ organized by The Hidden Project and hosted within The Beacon Arts Centre [Hidden: Hands on Day (Interactive CPD session for Interested Agencies, Partners and our established artists)]. Individuals who attended varied in interests, but all had a common goal of working within or alongside the criminal justice sector. Some of the individuals whom attended worked with arts in the community (Elly Goodman, community drama artist; Rikki Traynor, sound artist; Ian Bustard, actor and director), local police officers, social workers (Simon Gittins), employees of SPS, third sector organization, advocates, performance group (Street Cones) and many others.

At the beginning of the workshop we watched a powerful short film produced by Rikki, Ian and The Hidden Project called “One Stupid Mistake.” The film confronted the dangers of substance abuse (including alcohol, drugs and legal highs) and the unfortunate consequences, such incarceration and death. We then split into two workshop groups: one for film and sound, and one for drama. I chose to join the ‘film and sound’ led by Ian and Ricky. Within the workshop we learned how to use film and sound to engage with individuals (who may, more specifically, be involved in community groups or in prison) and break barriers. Following the workshop we returned to the main workshop room where Street Cones concluded the workshop with an amazing and relevant skit, addressing legal highs, the struggles of re-integrating back into society following imprisonment and stereotypes.


For more information about The Hidden Project, check out:

For more information about Street Cones, check out:



February 17, 2016


Strengths-Based Social Work:

  • Individual-level approach
  • Each person has individual strengths and abilities
  • People can grow and change
  • SW supports client, works with their strengths, abilities and assets
    • Focus on strength
    • Evaluate a time when things were going well, how the situation was different
  • Capacity of growth and change
  • Understand situation in order to resolve it


Social Systems Theory:

  • Person is based in an environment (ecosystem)
    • Family, community, work, etc.
  • Biological and ecological effects
    • Is influenced by systems, and influences systems
  • Lack of “fit” with selves and surroundings
  • Problems arise from the environmental effect
  • Individual exists and is affected by these systems
    • When there is a change within a system, it affects the equilibrium within the system


Structural Approach:

  • Focuses on the wider social structures
    • Impact of social structure on individuals personal problems
  • Critical analysis of socio-economic
    • How socio-economic oppresses and exploits people based on race, age, gender, ability or sexuality
  • Includes casework, family counseling, group work, community organization


Critical Social Work:

  • Impact of social structures on personal problems
  • Transformation of ‘everyday lives’
  • Critiques societal relations to problems
  • Empowerment
  • Concern for power and power imbalances
  • Work toward changes in economic, social and political structures, relations, or organizations.


Anti-Oppressive Approach:

  • Bob Mullaly stated that oppression is “the domination of subordinate groups in society by a powerful group.”
  • Oppression in all structural and individual levels
  • Acknowledges oppression and complex nature of identities
  • Experience shaped by oppressions
  • Many peoples problems are caused by the oppressive structures of that society
  • Social justice-oriented
  • Draws on various theories
  • Micro and macro
  • Participatory approaches between Social Workers and client
  • Active, political process
  • Self-reflexive practice
  • Ongoing social analysis



Person-Centred Perspective:

  • Carl Rogers 1950
  • Humanism
  • “All human beings are good, worthwhile, and guided by a search for meaning and purpose in life.”
  • Clients are experts of their own problems
    • That clients know what is best for them
  • The client states what there problem is and that is where the social work begins
  • Clients are viewed as “wholes,” not solely on their diagnoses
  • Social workers show unconditional positive regard for client


Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy:

  • Short term approach
  • Learned behaviour
  • Ideas of world is shaped by our experiences
  • Understand a persons thought pattern, which influence their behaviour
  • Social Worker assist clients understand their thought patterns
  • Problem-solving focus
  • Promoting more accurate ways of understanding the world.



February 19, 2016

On Friday for my Social Work seminar (completed via online conference, every second Friday with my Social Work Practicum II class) I spoke about my practicum experience with SPAN and arts in a criminal justice through a ‘Reflective Photography’ presentation.  Bellow are the photos I presented.



“Punishment doesn’t end when the sentence has been served. For many, that’s when it’s just beginning.”

– Michael Palin (2015)



“Offending is the final product of everything else that has happened.”

– Social Worker in Cornton Vale



February 21, 2016

Jenny Wicks – “They are Us and We Are Them.”

Jenny Wicks, a UK photographer and artist, completed an artist residency at The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) at Glasgow University in 2012. Wicks research was titled: “Working Spaces, Punishing Spaces: The Meaning and Construction of Place through Criminological Research.”

During her research, Wicks wrote: “My portraits are an attempt to challenge the boundaries between them and us […] The mugshot is the first significant, visual display of power where judgment is cast on that person and [it is where subjects] re-cast themselves.”

I viewed some of the photographs (of which can be found at the link bellow).

Reflection: The photographs are powerful and raw. The fact that the individuals’ eyes are closed causes me to question the individuals’ emotions and thoughts: as often eyes communicate feelings, or as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first” ( I also find that these photographs show innocence, or as Wicks mentions, “womb-like.”

Us and Them

Us and Them

Us and Them

Us and Them

Exposing The Negatives And Positives Of Scottish Prisons, Criminological Research And Historical Mugshots

Humans of New York – “Inmates Stories”

Recently the popular ongoing photo series “Humans of New York” featured ‘Inmates Stories.’ The photos are of individuals whom have been sentenced for a variety of reasons. One individual commented on how being photographed and telling their story was the first time that they had felt heard. The photos humanize these individuals, in an environment that can be dehumanizing. It is difficult to describe the photos and their stories, as they are all unique and powerful. I am thankful for this serious, as it may allow society to view these individuals as more then ‘prisoners.’

One of the photographs and stories featured:

“My mom was a single mom and there were nine of us. All of the kids worked in the fields. I started when I was twelve. We picked cucumbers, apples, corn, strawberries, all of it. None of us went to school. Nobody cared– if you move around a lot, the system loses track of you. Whenever the harvest was done, we’d go somewhere else. We always signed a contract. The farmers would give us a place to live and a little bit of money, and we worked in their fields. But there was never any money left when we finished. One day when I was eighteen, a friend of mine asked me to hide some marijuana in our trailer. He gave me a little money. I gave it to my mom. And that’s how it all began.” (Federal Correctional Complex: Hazelton, West Virginia)


(Photographer: Brandon – Humans of New York founder and photographer)

To see more of the photographs, check out:



February 22, 2016

Open Museum – Outreach Branc

“My particular focus lies with museums and the Criminal Justice System. The key overarching aim for working in this field is rehabilitation.” – Claire Coia


How can historical items of the past impact people of the present? I met with Claire Coia to find out. Robin and I met with Claire at the Museum Resource Centre in order to plan for a future SPAN Skills Share Day. Claire took us to a room where many ‘kits’ were held. The kits can be borrowed (for FREE!) and taken to places such as schools and prisons. I found the kits personable, as you can hold the items within them. Some of the kits Claire opened for us included a ‘India’ one, ‘80’s,’ ‘World War II,’ and a ‘guessing’ one. Each was unique and held treasures relevant to their theme. Seeing some of the items within the kits took me back to a child-like curiosity. I was interested in what the items were and their historical significance.

Claire is currently working within prisons and mentioned her plans for the future. I am excited to learn more about the impact that museums has had, and will continue to have, within prisons.

More information about the kits and the Open Museum – outreach branch can be found at:


February 25, 2016

A Day at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 

Today I met with Jess Thorpe at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSC), the only conservatoire within Scotland. The RSC provides educational training for dance, drama, music, production and screen.

Jess and I discussed the programs within the RCS, theatre in prison and she explained to me why she became interested in the arts-in-prison sector, explaining “Why are opportunities like this, quite elite?” Jess believes that all individuals should have access to art forms and express themselves.

So, in order to learn about theatre within prison, Jess did what many dream of: she traveled around the world to learn. Jess organized placements in Michigan, Detroit and Connecticut, to study art within prison, and continues to broaden her knowledge of theatre within prison by looking at other programs around the world.

Jess currently teaches one module within the RCS, in which students learn about theatre within prison. At the completion of the module the students have worked within a prison for a week to devise a theatrical performance with individuals within the prison. Jess is also a founder and member of SPAN, co-Artistic Director of the Glass Performance Company and a trustee and staff member for the International Schools Theatre Association. On top of this, Jess continues to seek opportunities to work within prisons with individuals to produce theatre and advocate for the importance of art within prison. To say the least, I was extremely thrilled to be able to accompany Jess for the day.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.33.10 AM

A Day with Jess Thorpe:

We started the day with meeting with Jess’s Arts in Social Justice students, where introductions were made. We all headed to Low Moss, where we were given a tour and discussed the theatre that the students would assist in developing. Following the visit we debriefed about our feelings of the prison and any thoughts that we had.

“There is no difference between me as a student and you as a student.” (Referring to working with individuals within prison) – HMP Low Moss Staff

“It is critical that we are non-judgmental.” – HMP Low Moss Staff

Reflection: The prison has an amazing Family-Visiting Centre and individuals serving sentences are able to see their families any day of the week. The staff spoke of the importance of family interaction and building or maintaining strong familial relationships, so that upon release ‘prisoners’ are able to better re-integrate into the family system. I also feel that this is very important and relevant and recognize the significance of family relationships. In terms of the visit itself, through out the visit I felt a sense of us-and-them, as we did not interact with the individuals within prison. In saying this, there was a lock-down in one section of the prison and for this reason our exchanges may have been limited.

When returning to the RCS we ate lunch, then met with Street Cones. Street Cones talked about their backgrounds, the work that they do within the community, the various places that they work, a video that they created within a care home and a brilliant and hilarious video that they made within Govan, called “Govan Luv’n” (which can be found here: ). Street Cones explained some “Do’s and Don’t(s)” about working within prison, then we completed short improvisation. For the improvisation we were paired with another person; one of us was a ‘prisoner’ and one of us was a ‘visitor.’ Neil (a Street Cone’s member) separately told us our roles and the background of our characters. The individual performances were funny or sad, but all equally eye opening.

Reflection: Although I am not an acclaimed actor, I have found that I am slowly stepping out of my shell, and learning that acting is much the same as art: you do not have to be a professional artists to make art, just as you do not have to be a professional actor to act. Although I do not (yet!) consider myself an actor, I believe acting is extremely empowering.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.33.29 AM


February 26, 2016

Arts within Education: Will This Be In The Test

Today I attended ‘Arts within Education: Will This Be In The Test’ hosted at the Tolbooth Centre in Stirling, Scotland. Some of the speakers included Claire Cooper and Anthony Schrag.

“Nothing exists in isolation.” – Claire Cooper

Claire discussed social injustice, climate change and economic uncertainty, as well as the ‘3 Horizons’ of working within an educational sector (more information on Claire can be found at

“One of the main things about art is the invitation that you make.” – Anthony Schrag

“Disobedient is challenging the power structure.” – Anthony Schrag

Anthony discussed participatory art as: artist/art, social realm and authority. Anthony has been commissioned to work within various settings, which are often considered deprived. Anthony’s work has been recognized for producing a range of emotions and reactions from participants and viewers, such as happiness and laughter, frustration and annoyance and confusion and misperception. Anthony always receives a strong reaction from those viewing and participating in his art. Some of the art that Anthony shared at the conference included “The Ship of Hope,” in which a community built a ship and Anthony explained ‘If it floats, there is still hope! But if it sinks, well, then there is no hope…’ (thankfully, the ship floated!); Anthony wore a 7 ½ meter sign reading “Everthing is going to be okay,” organized a football game between two rival gangs (with the goal posts being at either side of the city/separate territories) and set up a meeting with city officials in the deprived area of a city that they were looking to work within (giving the ‘elite’ an understanding of what it was like in these areas) (

Sessions: Apart of the day, there were 7 separate sessions that discussed some of the recent art in education projects. I attended Emma Nutland’s “Nancy Wilde – Super Gran,” Rosie Reid’s “A Burns Supper” and Rory and Suz “Menstrie Machines.” Some of the important points that the artists made were: fitting to the needs of the participants, use a variety of arts to communicate and performing/displaying some art for the group you are working with in order to excite them about the project.

Reflection: Discussing art and its implementation in future education was valuable in exploring how the arts are, and are not, valued within societies structures. The speakers and artists provided insight about the meaning of “outcomes” and allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of how art works within systems, allowing me to conclude that art should not always need a perceived ‘outcome,’ to work well within peoples lives.

who is art for


February 29, 2016

Within researching arts in prison, I have begun to explore internationally as well. Today I watched a short video about art in prison, in Michigan. This short video, which is ten minutes long, briefly explains ‘Why?’ art in prison. Various, powerful, pieces of art are shown throughout the video.


March 1, 2016

Today we met with Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside, over a cup of tea to discuss the work that Families Outside is currently doing, as well as hopes for the future. I interviewed Nancy, and here are some of the key points that I feel should be mentioned:

Interview with Nancy Loucks – Chief Executive of Families Outside

Q: “How would you describe ‘Art in Prison’?”

A: Art in prison is “a connector…a way to connection with people, with families…a way of linking people into education and to build confidence, by exploring something new.”


Q: “How do you believe rapport should be built when working with people?”

A: “By being patient…persistent…non-judgmental…at ease, listening and work with rather then for individuals.”


Q: “What are some important factors of the Diversity and Equality Act?”

A: “Being aware and not making assumptions (in terms of peoples abilities)…be cognizant of what people [are] fac[ing].” Nancy further explained it is important to adapt to peoples needs, such as literacy, in which Families Outside is working to re-write documents and helpful informational documents.


Q: “What are some highlights of working with Families Outside?”

A: ‘Giving support to individuals…seeing a shift in attitudes…’

Nancy mentioned the joy of seeing an individual return to school, following being apart of a program, in which he was able to complete his homework with his father.


Q: “What is your personal experience with art?”

A: Nancy spoke of her background in dance and choreography and said that the arts are relevant within her family and home life. Nancy stated “I use art as an outlet.”



March 2, 2016

Positive Prison Meeting – Justice… Who needs it? Where can it be found?

“There are some people [in society] that don’t want us here, and that’s tough! We are going to be here until we are not necessary.”


Today I attended a Positive Prisons meeting at the Robertson House in Glasgow. A variety of individuals from an array of organizations were in attendance. Some of these organizations included Theatre Nemo, the Fathers Network, Glasgow Science Centre and Venture Scotland. Certain important points were made about the progress from last year, including addressing 1) ‘Friday’ Releases 2) The Language of Justice (using the term “people with convictions” rather then “offenders” or “ex-offenders”) 3) Bank Accounts (working towards allowing individuals to open bank accounts before leaving prison). We further talked about the issues around

Housing: “Many people leave prison not knowing where they are going to sleep that night.” NHS and Through-care: connecting the NHS within prisons and outside of prisons DNP Benefits


At our tables we examined what we believe the definition for ‘Justice’ is, following being given the Oxford Dictionary version: “The Fair treatment of people.” My group decided that justice meant “equal opportunities.” This discussion was followed by deliberating how we, as a table, think the justice system should operate. It was a joint agreement that there is a higher need for rehabilitation, therapy and resources and less of a need for all individuals to be segregated from society.




March 3, 2016

Chara Project – Elly Goodman ft. Music making with Carol Laula

“Let’s press the pause button on life, and see where this morning takes us.” – Elly Goodman (at the beginning of the session)

Today I worked with Elly Goodman and Carol Laula at the Chara Project. We worked on a song that included looking out-of our windows of life:

“Through my window…What did I see…”

The group talked about bad memories between the past and the future, in which a participant said “a few?” (stating that she had many ‘bad’ memories). However, Carol and Elly had a way of deriving life’s positive and humorous memories.

“I think it’s beautiful when you’re looking out…To be above the clouds…” – Participant

The females talked about the memories of their past, some of which were sad and some of which were happy and caused the room to roar with laughter. We ended the session with discussing what we wanted to see out of our window in the future.

Reflection: I appreciated how Carol and Elly structured the workshop and how they were cognizant to end the session with a ‘positive view’ of the future. From a social work perspective I believe that it is important to acknowledge our past, but instill hope for the future.

Chara quote


March 7, 2016 

Scotland – Art in Prison – How to get started:

As ‘Art-in-Prison’ is still a relatively new concept to me, I sought to understand the base of ‘How does art get into prison.’ My supervisor, Robin, recommended that I look to the SPS website:

Partnership Development Process


I found this ‘visual’ useful to describe how art is implemented within prison. The documents available on the website are also of great use to working with art, within a prison. However, I feel that it is vital in understanding that an artist should not arrive at a prison with a “Hi, I’m here to deliver an art project to you” attitude. As mentioned by Jim King, during an interview [see February 10th post to read more about the interview] there needs to be a supply slate model. This means:

  • The view of what is needed
  • Identifying if there is a need (Mental health? Confronting domestic abuse? Substance abuse?)
  • What is the best outcome?

This is vital for artists to understand. Thus, it is important to think:

  • What is the need in the prison?
  • What would the best form of art be, that would assist these individuals?

In saying this, I am a firm believer that art often produces outcomes that may not have been expected. At the ‘Arts within Education: Will This Be In The Test’ [February 26, 2016 post] the idea of ‘outcomes’ was challenged. However, various art forms have been individually recognized as having stronger affects in improving specific mental health and emotional instability. For example, David Gussak, an art therapist in the United States whom works in prisons, has found that visual art has a powerful effect in lowering depression. Whereas theatre artists, as personally witnessed through my work with Elly Goodman and Jess Thorpe, often mention that self-esteem is greatly improved through theatre. Nonetheless, visual art also assists with self-esteem and theatre can also assist with depression. But certain arts may have a higher rate of improvement in certain areas, and thus the SPS desire to have art programs that can address certain needs.



Art in Prison – United States of America

“It makes visible, what is mostly invisible”


The following documentary explains art within prison. The artists within the documentary discuss the need to make art in prison, saying: “…art making is a basic human right.” I appreciate this documentary as it gives individuals an idea of art within prison and the impact that it has on individuals’ lives. The documentary further discusses through-care and the effect that art has once they are released from prions.

“Because people got the chance to really tell their stories…It’s the power of telling their stories…it’s the force of the story, is what is the actual creating force in peoples lives…”



March 8, 2016

Today I interviewed Anthony Schrag, a community artist based in Edinburgh. Anthony was born in Zimbabwe and grew up within the Middle East, UK and Canada. I first met Anthony at the ‘Arts within Education: Will This Be in the Test’ [refer to post February 26, 2016] where Anthony won over myself and Artlink Colleague, Catherine Middleton. I knew that I needed to hear more from Anthony about his work and inspiration. Bellow are some exerts on the interview:

Interview with Anthony Schrag – Community Artist

Q: “Why Scotland?”
A: “…art fits in to a [United Kingdom] societal context.”

Q: “How would you describe ‘Art in Prison’?”
A: “This goes back to what we define as art…so I have an issue with art being a lesser version of social work, I have a really big issue with that.”
“For me, art is about asking difficult questions and letting the people with figure out those questions on their own terms.”
Schrang discussed the difference between art and social workers, explaining that “…an artist is trained to make pretty pictures, that’s it!” “When we are set up to do art in a social context… we don’t have that resource or training…and maybe the biggest thing is that we don’t have moral the authority.”

Q: “Why did you choose to work within the community/with vulnerable groups?”
A: “I chose to work with people, because I like people and people are different from me.”
“We can reflect on ourselves all that we want, but it’s only when we meet other people that we understand our experiences…and so I want to work with people. The problem is, majority of the funding to work with people is for vulnerable people and that’s problematic, because it assumes that when we work with those people, it assumes that the people don’t work with culture in the right way. What I mean by that is, one of the politics of governments say ‘Art is for homeless people, for children, for the poor, for juvenile delinquents, ethnic minorities, all those people, but its not for white, working people? What’s that about? Then it’s used that, the reason we are working with these people is to make them like the white people. For me, that’s a really big issue, because I like working with all people, and I don’t want to put the vulnerable people in a different category, then everyone else. Because then it automatically assumes a power dynamic and power hierarchy.”


Q: “What are some of the outcomes you have witnessed, because of art?”
A: “For me it’s a positive outcome if people have explored their place in the world…”
“You can frame a lot of outcomes as positive, even if they are necessarily ‘nice.’ It’s about what people reflect on: How did they learn? How did they adapt?”

Q: “Confidentiality in the workplace?”
A: “Don’t tell other people what people told you in confidence!”

Q: “Rapport in the workplace?”
A: “Someone once said to me, ‘How do you know you’re a good social engaged artist?’ and I said ‘Well how do you know you’re a good painter?’ and they said ‘Well, I paint good.’ Well, if you’re a social engaged artist, you social engage!”

Q: “What is your personal experience with art?”
A: “I ended up going to work thinking I was going to be a writer…and ended up teaching art following a bizarre series of events… I realized that I could do a lot more with art then I could do with my writing… It was suddenly more direct with art, a direct relationship.”


March 9, 2016

Artlink Central in Cornton Vale – “Meet the Makers”

“I made two [purses] for my two wee girl. My oldest daughter said ‘Mommy! You didn’t make that!’ and I said ‘Yes! I did! I can show you how to make it!’.” – Participant (at the jewelry course)

Today I had the opportunity to visit and participate with the ‘Meet the Makers’ project that will be taking place in HMP Cornton Vale for the next 4 weeks. Today artist, Roberta Poderzoli, delivered a ‘Paper Jewellery’ workshop which included quilling (paper filigree) to make brooches, bracelets and pendants.

Reflection: Referring to the above participant quote, in which she spoke about a previous weeks workshop, it is evident that the art workshops assist in boosting participant’s confidence. All of the girls were eager and enthusiastic to make jewellery and create. I worked alongside on young lady, about my age, and when she became frustrated I offered to assist her. She became more confident and began to curl the paper and create a piece she exclaimed: “Look? It’s gettin’ there!” It was inspiring to see the progress of the pieces, and although I was unable to stay for the whole day, it was apparent that the women were motivated to see the end results.



March 10, 2016

Tomorrow’s Women with Elly Goodman, Carol Laula and Rikki Traynor

“Everythings’ true, we are just reenacting.” – Participant

Today I attended the ‘Tomorrow’s Women’ theatre rehearsal in Glasgow. Elly Goodman (Community drama artist from the Citizen Theatre) and Carol Laula (Singer, Songwriter and Community Artist) led the women through a performance that they have been working on, and will be performing on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016. Rikki Traynor (Sound Artist) worked with Elly and Carol to produce the music and sound that would accompany the performance.

Reflection: At the beginning of the performance Elly introduced me, saying: “This is Denica, she is trying to make us have our show in Canada!” The girls all laughed saying “Psh, no way.” Elly exclaimed that it was possible and not to doubt the possibilities. One thing I admire about Elly is to have an open mind and give the ladies hope. Both Elly and Carol encourage the females and provide constant positive feedback. Following the positive feedback it is visually obvious that the girls put in all of their effort in order to produce quality theatre. Through this specific theatre piece, the girls are not only able to gain a voice through telling their stories, but they are also able to gain confidence and a support system.


March 20, 2016

Bellow is a visual review of the basics for applying for funding, based on the SCVO website. During my time at SPAN I have realized the importance of funding and the stages of funding. Visit the SCVO site for more information on how to apply for third sector funding in a successful and organized manner.


Third Sector - PIC funding


FundingApplyingSuccess and SustainabilityOther Sources



March 25, 2016

Chara Project & Community Collective

Chara Project

“Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see? Through my window, what do I see?”

Today at the Chara Project Rachel Mimiec, a community artist, led the workshop. I admire Rachel and as another artist said ‘She is brilliant.’ Rachel has a way of adapting art to individual’s abilities and she reads people very well. I observe how she handles situations and recognize that she has a gift of working with people, as she is calm and an avid listener.

At the beginning of the session I assisted Rachel in drawing windows, which the ladies filled in with various images or words in relation to what they see out of their window; the theme thus following a previous one, “Through my window, what do I see?” One of the females drew various pictures of her children playing or scenes that she recalled in a previous backyard. Another wrote words, explaining that they were personal and that she did not wish to share. Another women drew patterns and seemed to be in a trance of the various colors.


It is interesting, eye opening and perhaps comforting to see the hope that the windows brought to some of the women’s lives. The windows acted as an artistic view into seeing what the women hoped for the future or held onto from the past. Maybe this is what art itself is: hope and remembrance.

Community Collective

For the afternoon I joined Elly Goodman and Neil Packham at the Community Collective.

At the beginning of the session Neil asked us about celebrities that we had met. I spoke of a famous Canadian techno powwow dancer, Supaman. Neil teased me about knowing the well known superhero ‘Superman’ and we had a laugh. For clarification, here is Supaman:

We then split into groups and were told to think of a skit in which we were meeting a celebrity. I worked with two individuals, one whom was a student and one whom was a member of the community collective. I voiced at the beginning that I was not a ‘good actor,’ in which the student replied “Oh of course you are, just go wild, be crazy!” Needless to say, by the end of the session I was acting—crawling on the floor and falling over. Our skit involved the student being a celebrity, and the other lady being his ‘agent.’ I was the ‘enthusiastic’ fan, who tried to touch the celebrity, take a selfie with him and do anything I could to be near him.


I can continuously see how acting is assisting me in ‘stepping out of my shell,’ especially when I end up crawling on the floor.


April 1, 2016

SPAN Funding

As SPAN Trustee’s wrote:

“After having a strong start with significant support from Creative Scotland we currently find ourselves in a period of financial challenge as public arts policy has changed and the Scottish Prison Service’s strong aspirations for the arts is still under review. We need now to look for new ways to support our delivery, to bridge the gap and ensure the future of an organisation we really care about.”

Thus, I have recently assisted SPAN with seeking other funding. On March 31st I led in launching a crowdfunder for SPAN.

Bellow is a post, which I created to raise awareness of the campaign:

Did you know the average cup of coffee in Scotland is about £2.50? If you bought coffee everyday of the work-week for a year, you would spend about £650.00.

If 400 people donated two days worth of coffee (£5) to the SPAN crowdfunder, they would help support SPAN for over a year,


If 200 people put in four days worth of coffee (£10) to the SPAN crowdfunder, they would also help support SPAN for over a year!

Will you support SPAN?
Buy a virtual coffee for your friend, SPAN, and help support artists in prison, to continue to deliver life-changing art projects.



March 29, 2016

HMP Cornton Vale with Art Tutor Rosemary

Today I had the pleasure of joining the Art class at HMP Cornton Vale, led by Rosemary. Rosemary has been working in prison for many years and has a visible passion for it. Rosemary has a warm, fun personality and she melds well with the students, using humor and patience as key factors of communication.

Before the art class Rosemary talked to me about the Kestler Awards. I was shocked by the variety of art that could be submitted to the Kestler Awards: Writing, Performance, Film and Animation, Fine Art, Craft and Design and much more. All of these categories have numerous art forms within them. For example: Craft and Design includes handmade books, calligraphy, handmade creating cards, graphic design, matchstick models, craft, woodcraft, furniture, fashion, hairstyling, beauty and much more.

Before the class began Rosemary and I discussed possible themes for the day and concluded on the theme of ‘Spring.’ Rosemary printed off reference photos and we headed to the classroom to prepare. Preparation included setting out brushes, water and paint, laying out paper (to avoid painting on the table) and preparing boards to place stretched pieces on.
When the females arrived attendance and ‘numbers’ were taken. Numbers also meaning a ‘head count’ to be sure that all of the females were where they were supposed to be located. The ladies then began their painting. Some of the females worked on previous work, which could be submitted to the Kestler Awards, while others began new art pieces. One of the ladies created a beautiful pointillism piece. Another completed a watercolor and acrylic piece. One lady began a collage, which read “Nobodies Child.” Throughout the class some of the women chatted about life ‘on the outside.’ One talking about her soon release, mentioning:

“Plans can be made in here, but it’s different once you’re out there.”

The class carried on and I assisted Rosemary with preparing a mosaic for the afternoon, which Ross House would work on. Ross house is the section of the prison where women with mental health issues reside. Rosemary also reviewed the colors of the prison clothing with me, explaining the need for colors. She mentioned that the women can change into ‘day clothes’ once they return to their cells. I completed my time with Rosemary by chatting about art in prison.

Reflection: One of the most impactful aspects of the art that I observed today was the word’s that read “Nobodies Child.” I did not talk to the women about these words but my thoughts ran wild and I felt a waft of empathy. A quote by Marina Abramović ran through my head:

“Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, ‘Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You don’t. But you listen to them anyway.’ So, sometimes with art, it is important just to look.”


March 30, 2016

Interview with Fraser Gray



April 4, 2016

The discussion of ‘outcomes’ is relevant in the discussion of art in prison. When completing a plan for an art project in prison the plan must include ‘perceived outcomes.’ However, this can be difficult for many forms of art. Bellow discusses outcomes, more specifically soft outcomes:

Soft Outcomes

Aim: The change to an individual or target group.
Outcome: The change, benefit e learning as a result of activities.
Hard Outcome: Tangible or easily measure result.

Examples: reduced substance use, lowered recidivism.

Soft Outcomes: Not measure directly or tangibly.


Key work skills: team working, problem solving, numeracy skills and information technology

Attitudinal skills: increased motivation, confidence, improved behaviour

Personal skills: improved personal appearance and presentability, improved timekeeping and personal hygiene

Practical skills: ability to complete forms, write CV


Measuring Soft Outcomes:
Collective Information: Assessment: Tools:
·      Assess change: collect information before, after and during

·      Establish baseline to measure improvement

·      Individual action planning

·      Daily/Weekly diary

·      Observation

·      Questionnaire


·      Implementation plan

·      Questionnaire to measure clients apparent attitude changes and interpersonal skills

·      Observation schedule for staff to measure perceived changes


Types of Soft Outcomes:
(Outcome Indicator: Qualitative or Quantitative)
Work Skills: Team Work, team working, problem solving, communication, literacy and numeracy skills, ICT, time management and information technology

Attendance, conduct, task completion, intiative, risk management, support seeking, identifying opportunities, observing rules and boundaries

Attitudinal skills: Increased motivation, confidence, improved behaviour, feelings of well-being, safety, satisfaction, social cohesion

Social: positive social networks, community participation, cultural integration

Personal skills: Confidence, self-esteem, appearance, self-care and presentability, living skills, use of time, overcoming obstacles, interpersonal skills, social skills, willingness to learn
Practical skills: Ability to complete forms, write CV
Attitude Interpersonal Skills



Social Interaction


Time Management


Soft Outcome                        –>                              Hard Outcome:

Confidence                                                                     Getting a job

Team work


Argument: Soft Outcomes assist a person in successfully maintaining a job.   Without the essential soft outcomes established, one may not be able to manage a job.



Target Group: People with convictions
Aim: Increase self-esteem
Outcome Possible indicators
Individuals with convictions increase their self-esteem Frequency of attendance
Improved hygiene
Improved behaviour
Target Group Outcome Outcome Indicators Break Indicators Down Collection Method Presenting findings to funders
Young people with convictions Increased self-esteem Frequent attendance to classes – Individual contributes to the sessions

– Individual speaks and offers a part in the sessions

– Individual has attended more then 5 sessions

Observation by prison officers and peers




Written feedback

Case study


  Improved physical appearance – Individual displays improved hygiene

– Individual demonstrates maintenance of appearance

  Improved behaviour – Individual is respectful to others and staff

– Individual displays positivity


Aitken, H. (January 2011). Measuring soft outcomes: A basic guide. Experts in Regeneration. Retrieved from:,com_docman/Itemid,10/gid,63/task,doc_download/

Rowe, L. and Wright, R. Demonstrating soft outcomes: and the impact voluntary organisations have on reducing health inequalities. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Voluntary Sector Team: The Care Forum. Retrieved from:

In regards to a recent blog post [April 1, 2016] I have been apart of leading a crowdfunding campaign for SPAN. Bellow is a post I created for SPAN’s crowdfunding:


SPAN Funding

A single paintbrush may vary in prices, from £0.15 to £352.00.
Packages of paintbrushes can be bought for about £3-£10.

If 400 people in the Scotland art community donated the amount of about two inexpensive (£6) packages of paintbrushes, they would help fund SPAN for over a year
If 200 people in the Scotland art community donated the amount of about one average-cost (£10) package of paintbrushes, they would help fund SPAN for over a year

SPAN supports and advocates for artists working within prison. Will you support SPAN during this time of financial need?

Visit to support SPAN.





April 5, 2016

Day 2 at HMP Cornton Vale with Rosemary the Art Tutor

I had the opportunity to spend the day with Rosemary, the Art Tutor, at HMP Cornton Vale for a second day.

Informal Interview with Rosemary

Before we began the class I asked Rosemary about her experience within prisons:
Work: Rosemary has worked within prisons for over 16 years. Following completing her education in fine art and a post graduate in community education and youth work, Rosemary worked with social workers in a community council. Her initial focus was working with adults with learning difficulties. She voiced her interest in working within a prison and when a position became available began teaching as an art tutor within prisons. Rosemary also has her own practice and does private workshops within city councils.

Art Background: Rosemary recalls having an interest in art at a young age. She decided to pursue art in her second year of high school and although her parents were not keen on Rosemary attending art college, she chose to pursue her passion.

Throughout my time with Rosemary she offered wise advice about working within prisons and shared some of her experiences.

Morning: Discussions with the Art Students within Prison

Today’s class was quiet, so I talked to some of the ladies individually.

Describe art and what you feel the benefits are:

“Art is…quite open-minded…it takes your head right out of the jail…it doesn’t feel like the jail in [the art room]…and it brings out the lassies talent.”

“It’s built up my confidence and self-esteem…definitely.”

“It brings out talents, you never knew you had.”

“It’s taught me a lot.”

“It puts us all on the same level.”

“Before I came in here I’d never done watercolor before…I wanted to learn how to paint water, like oceans, I’m shite at it but I’m getting better.”

One student mentioned that when she first began drama she was intimidated and was not interested in participating, she said “[Drama can be] a pain in the ass…but you’re glad you done it, you have a sense of achievement.”

Through-Care, will you continue with an art practice following your release?:

“We need things to keep us on the straight and narrow”

“I want to, but with the time restraints, I have to be realistic…maybe a night class or something like that…I would like to say that I would.”

“There needs to be more opportunities out there.”

One student mentioned that she would be “more likely” to interact with a social worker if there was a form of creative expression as an initiative or as a form of comfort.

One of the students said she wasn’t interested in talking about art, mentioning: “I don’t like talking about confidence and all that shite.” I began talking to the student about her degree with enthusiasm. About 30 minutes later the student was sharing the art that she had made for her niece, including a storybook, beautifully sown bag and a doll. I commented on her ability to problem solve through creating the storybook and she commented that problem solving is relevant when creating art.

Afternoon: Mosaics with Ross House

In the afternoon a new art group completed a mosaic project. There was a mixture of ladies from different units, but the central focus was including Ross House, the mental health unit of the prison. We all began with quick hands to finish the piece, which revealed a large flower. One of the ladies voiced that she did not like “new comers,” referring to myself. She continued to express how there is “always new comers trying to see what its like in here.” It may seem that the individual did not appreciate me being apart of the class. However, following listening to the lady I realized that she was expressing her annoyance with ‘new comers’ because she felt that individuals were coming to the prison to view her in amusement. Once the individual left other art students within the prison apologized for the ladies behavior. I explained to them that it was not something to worry about and that I could see why the lady was upset. We continued the mosaic and one artist continued to seek acceptance for her section of the mosaic saying: “Is it okay like this?” Rosemary and myself continually said “Yes, it looks wonderful…really good…keep it up!…etc.” We ended the day with finishing a beautiful mosaic, which displayed a large flower.


In the morning I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the women about their experiences with art. Some mentioned that they created art for emotional reasons while others participated in art classes for learning technical art skills.

In the afternoon I was able to understand the feeling of ‘intrusion’ that some individuals within the prison may feel, as one individual gave her straightforward and uncensored opinion of visitors within the prison. Although an unpleasant experience on the receiving end of her irritated communication, it allowed me to empathize and understand how individuals within prisons may feel they are viewed by visitors and experience a lack of rights.

“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we, too, should have rights.” Dr. Seuss

SPAN Cornton Vale Sketch

April 8, 2016

Chara Centre – Through My Window

Today I had the spent my morning at the Chara Project, which takes place in the Chara Centre. Photographer Jules brought her green-screen and took photos of the ladies. They were excited to hear that Jules was going to edit the photos to make them ‘surreal’ looking.

A lady that I have been working alongside with at the Chara Project apologized to the group and myself explaining that she could not join the group because she had “an appointment with a beautiful boy” (referring to her son). She was dressed up and visually excited to see her son. This warmed my heart, as I had often sat next to her while she made art pieces and poems for her son.

During the morning Jules took photos of the excited women. I sat next to a lady who initially had no interest in drawing. Once we began to discuss her life and what her ‘home town’ looked like, she began to doodle and speak excitedly. Throughout the morning the women discussed what they see ‘out of their windows.’ One young lady discussed her experience in Amsterdam and how she was horrified with some of the environments, another lady wrote about what she saw out of her window, while another drew delicate curtains. The women shared their stories with each other in a trusting and nostalgic manner.


April 12, 2016

“Third Hand – Autonomous Art From Scottish Prisons”

Tonight I had the opportunity to visit the “Third Hand – Autonomous Art From Scottish Prisons” exhibit presented by New College Lanarkshire.

The exhibition had pieces produced from prisons including HMP Cornton Vale, HMP Shotts, HMP Greenock and HMP Low Moss. Viewing the pieces, I continue to be amazed by the realistic qualities of humanity that many of the pieces encompass. I also appreciate the underlying messages, for example one of the pieces displayed a head, with a speech bubble coming from the figures mouth and the words ‘Freedom of Speech’ painted, then covered with paint.

At the exhibit I spoke with artist Willie Sinclair, art tutor Inigo Garrido and Senior Outreach Officer Robin Ballie. Willie is the founder of ‘Evolved Arts.’ We discussed how art influenced him during his time in prison and following release he had difficulty finding any art, through care support. Thus Willie created ‘Evolved Arts.’ Inigo works within HMP Shotts, teaching the men how to develop and create a magazine, more specifically STIR Magazine. Robin is the Senior Outreach Officer at the National Galleries of Scotland, he also curated the art exhibit. Robin and I discussed some of the work within Scottish prisons and the impact that the arts have within Scotland.

The exhibit will be opened for viewing from Wednesday, April 13 – Saturday, April 23, 10am – 5pm. In the Creative Lab at the Centre for Contemporary Arts

[350 Sauchiehall Street; Glasgow G2 3JD; United Kingdom]. The exhibit is Free and opened to all ages

The Glasgow school of art


April 15, 2016

Today I had my ‘last day’ at the Chara Project. Artist Rachel led the class. We traced images, taken a few weeks prior, of the back of our heads. I chose a magazine photo and merged it with a picture of a landscape. It was a small class today, with three ladies and a few individuals who came in to say ‘hi.’ One of the ladies who came in expressed that she was ‘rubbish’ at art. Rachel was able to convince her to “give it a try.” By the end of the session the lady had expressed how ‘therapeutic’ the process was and that it “just took [her] mind away” and allowed her to find peace and calmness. I said a last ‘goodbye’ to some of the ladies that I had worked with for the weeks I was there and they urged me to ‘come back’ and ‘visit.’ My time with the Chara Project has been rewarding and has broadened my understanding of women’s shelters, the struggles that women confront, the criminal justice system and the ‘cycle’ of poverty, art facilitation and the effects that art have on individuals lives.



April 18, 2016

“I have something inside me to offer”

Today I watched the short film “Mirrors: Prison Portraits – ‘Art Class’” by Lou McLoughlan; National Galleries of Scotland and Motherwell College 2010. The film reviews individual’s lives within HMP Shotts, and their experiences with art, within the community and within prison. The film allowed me to further understand the struggles within prison, as well as understand individual’s lives, thoughts and feelings. Further, the film reviews the effects that art have on those within art classes in the prison—which, in itself, is inspirational.

“You can try what you want, and that’s the freedom that we get.”

April 19, 2016

To conclude my social work practicum I created a ‘portfolio,’ which explains my journey leading up to traveling to Scotland to pursue art within prison.

Major Practicum Social Work; SPAN – Portfolio – Denica Patterson

Major Practicum Social Work; SPAN - Portfolio - Denica Patterson Major Practicum Social Work; SPAN - Portfolio - Denica Patterson 2


Along with my final portfolio, I would like to share the results of my ‘Prison Perspective’ questionnaire and fact sheet, in which I provided a short questionnaire to 12 students.

Interview for Prison Perspective results
Interview for Prison Biases – FACT SHEET Interview for Prison Biases Interview for Prison Perspective results


April 22, 2016

Final Thoughts and ‘Cheers’!

Today will conclude my time with the Scottish Prison Arts Network (SPAN).

My placement with SPAN has been challenging and gratifying.  I believe I have strengthened within my networking skills, communication skills, self-reflection and perhaps most importantly confidence working within the prison sector. I have developed a greater knowledge of justice within Scotland as well as art within a criminal justice system and through care setting.  Having the opportunity to co-facilitate art within communities and within a prison setting has allowed me to develop facilitation skills and prepare to individually conduct art within prison in the future.  Moreover, the mentors, such as Elly Goodman, Rachel Mimiec, Carol Laula and Jess Thorpe, made available through SPAN, have been instrumental throughout my practicum in guiding me, providing educational and practical experiences and offering encouragement in areas I was unfamiliar with.
Through my experience with SPAN I have had the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences addressing prison and art within prison, interview and network with artists whom work in a criminal justice setting, social workers and HMP employees, co-facilitate art classes within HMP Cornton Vale and The Chara Centre with the assistance of mentors, be apart of leading a fundraising campaign for SPAN, assist in preparing for skill share days, improve my communication skills (both orally and in writing) through social media, blogging and interviewing artists; I gained a knowledge of working within a third-sector organization, learned about various aspects and process of organizing and facilitating art within prison, and researched art within prison in a Scotland and international context.  These opportunities and learning experiences have resulted in developing an overarching knowledge of art within prison in a Scottish context.
I have no ‘issues’ to address in regards to my placement, as I have been continuously supported.  Robin has remained an encouraging and knowledgeable supervisor and has assisted in making my practicum experience instrumental by providing and recommending diverse experiences and opportunities within the prison arts sector.
I feel confident in working within a criminal justice setting and I will continue to employ the skills and knowledge I have developed in my future social work practice.
I cannot thank the SPAN team enough for this opprotunity!

Sincerly, Canadian Placement Student Denica

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