Prisoners’ Education Trust kick start Christmas

Carol service to celebrate and support the arts in prison this Christmas


St Paul’s church lit up by the Prisoners’ Education Trust service

“I am very happy to be here today. I am 28 this week. I never thought that that would happen. I never thought that 21 would happen.”

John Costi came out of prison five years ago and is speaking at the Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) annual carol service. St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, where the service is being held, is silent as he talks about his experiences in prison.

“I took a fairly typical path to prison. I thought the world owed me something and I was out to take it. When I was in prison I realised that art could have a real affect on my life. It turned things around for me”

John is a PET alumni and started painting in prison supported by the Trust. He has been pursuing his painting since prison and now has artwork hanging in the Southbank centre at the Koestler exhibition.

“The Prisoners’ Education trust has been there with me all the way, I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The service, held yesterday evening, celebrated the importance of creative arts. With individual grants the PET helps those in prison, just like John, realise their full potential and cope with some of the challenges of prison life.

Rod Clark, PET’s Chief Executive, said: “Art plays a valuable role in helping prisoners to remain connected with their families and loved ones and to cope with being in prison over the Christmas period.”

Photos by Rebecca Radmore for Prisoners Education Trust at HMP P

20.03.14, HMP Pentonville Prison, art class (Rebecca Radmore)

Last year PET funded 415 prisoners with arts materials, this year already 455 prisoners have received grants.

“At this time of year, many will be making special handmade presents for their children and loved ones. Rebuilding relationships with loved ones are particularly important to ensure people have the support and motivation to contribute positively to society after they leave prison.” Says Clark.

The PET however, has had to start turning down applications for lack of funding. To rectify this they will be running the Big Give Challenge tomorrow between 12-noon Friday and 12-noon Saturday where anyone who donates will have their money doubled through a match-funding scheme.

To find out more click here.

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