Interserve backs Koestler Trust

18 October 2017

Interserve is backing a scheme that employs guides to provide tours at an exhibition featuring art created by people in prison or on probation.

The Koestler Trust’s annual art exhibition is being showcased at London’s Southbank Centre. The prison arts charity awards, exhibits and sells artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients and the organisation’s national exhibition attracts more than 20,000 visitors every year.

For the last five years the Trust has employed six hosts – all of whom have experience of the criminal justice system – to work at the gallery showing visitors around the exhibition.

It is the second year Interserve has backed the Host Programme, after the company was initially contacted by the Trust’s chief executive Sally Taylor.

This year’s exhibition – Inside – is curated by acclaimed artist Antony Gormley and runs until November 15th.

Sally said: “We are extremely proud of the Host Programme, it is central to our mission. We support people in secure settings but also want to change the way the public thinks about offenders.

“Because of our link to Antony Gormley, interest in our exhibition has been higher than ever, and the hosts have therefore met a large number of visitors to give them a guided tour and explain the significance of our artwork. That leaves people with an extremely positive impression of the hosts. It also helps the hosts gain experience which can help them gain fulltime employment.

“I therefore think it’s fitting that Interserve has once again chosen to back this programme.”

Not only do many of the hosts gain employment following the scheme, the reconviction rate of people who have completed the programme is just eight per cent.

Hosts conduct three 45 minute tours per day, and also support special events at the Southbank Centre.

Interserve runs five Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) that deliver probation services across the country.

Ian Mulholland, Interserve’s director of justice, said: “The Host Programme is a fantastic scheme and I am especially pleased that Interserve has continued to back it.

“Our CRCs deliver excellent rehabilitative services and we very much back the ethos of the Koestler Trust because our work shows that – especially with the right support – people can make incredible transformations.”

The Trust was founded by Hungarian novelist Arthur Koestler, who himself endured a period in custody on death row after being imprisoned in Seville during the Spanish civil war. To help recognise the organisation’s link to its founder, the Trust has published an anthology of work written by people in custody which can be bought from its website: https://www.koestlertrust.org.uk/.

Next year the annual art exhibition is being curated by the families of people who are in custody.