218 Pilot Group – Blog Part 1

218 Pilot Group – Blog Part 1

The 218 Service is part of Turning Point Scotland and provides an alternative to custody for women involved with the criminal justice system. The service offers programmes of intensive support and group work to empower women to address the root causes of their offending.Many of the women who are referred to the 218 Service have a range of complex needs such as addiction, mental health, physical health, trauma, chronic low self-esteem and low confidence as well as social isolation.

The women who are in residency at the service are supported and guided through an intensive recovery programme, there are a number of health care staff such as nurses and psychologists, as well as staff to support and steer women through the recovery process.

We introduced a group of twelve women to the materials of brown paper and string and we reassured them that what we were about to create was achievable by everyone in the room.  As a lead-in we began making paper planes and wrote messages of expectations from the sessions and then flew them across the room. The women seemed to enjoy the initial opening of the session and we could see that they recognised the workshop wasn’t like other groups connected to their recovery programme that they had previously experienced.

The process of making the puppets bonded the group and conversations flowed freely. People helped one another without being asked and there was a good sense of group unity. Instant results were effective; individuals could see the puppet form in a short space of time.

We observed how the women began to make creative choices from how the puppet evolved with characteristics, to music and storyline. This was particularly important given that the group tended to struggle with decision making, especially within an arts context, which isn’t a regular part of their recovery process.

They were absorbed in the making because they were given a task which had an end-point. The group were intrigued and fascinated by the possibilities of the puppet, how it moved and what it could communicate. Most people worked diligently and enjoyed laughing at their puppet and sharing their work with the rest of the group. There was a feeling of surprise that something positive had been achieved by using simple resources.


Angela Smith

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