Get Wise delivered a hugely popular, six-month project at HMP Nottingham called Creative Retreat. Our project was initially established for substance misusers as part of the prison’s drug strategy programme. Due to the success of the project we extended this to the violence reduction unit and develop a satellite project ‘Sustaining Family Relationships’. During this time, we worked with 88 men overall focusing on employability skills to create short films to raise awareness of substance misuse, associated bullying and mental health problems and how to access support if experiencing these issues. Our short film scripts and soundtracks won prestigious Koestler Arts Awards. 


Creative Retreat at HMP Nottingham was commended by senior prison staff for its inclusivity of people who have multiple and complex needs and because our attendance levels were extremely high. Our leaners’ perceptions changed and they progressed to taking jobs on the wing, practical workshops and education classes. Creative Retreat originally set out to engage with 80 men and we surpassed this target:

  • 120 applicants

  • 88 learners engaged in our digital storytelling workshops

  • Of the 10% of learners on an ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork) 100% were taken off their ACCT once engaging with Creative Retreat

  • 80% of those on a methadone programme reported a reduction in their dosage

  • 5% undertook a full detox for progression to a drug-free unit

  • 75% of learners have - OMIT expressed an interest in joining us in the community to develop their skills on accredited courses

  • Progression to taking jobs on the wing, practical workshops and education classes


Through extensive feedback, our learners in custody and in the community have reported:

  • A reduction in behaviour that challenges

  • An increase in a sense of calm and focus

  • An increase in their confidence, self-esteem and sense of worth

  • An increase in the development of their digital skills for employers

  • Feeling optimistic about their future and prospects with a realisation that they can commit to a project and a routine 

  • A reduction in a sense of isolation and  self-stigma

  • Reduction in negative associations and activities


We made a documentary with prisoners and staff as part of our evaluation process. As it was made in prison GDPR dictate that it cannot be shown outside of the establishment however, prison staff reported an ‘unbelievable’ positive difference in the attitude and behaviour of some of the most challenging Creative Retreat participants.


Consequently, ex-offenders in the community who took part in the Creative Retreat programme have reported staying out of prison for the longest time in their lives, finding their first job and being able to abstain from negative activity and associations!





















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