Governor Teresa Clarke (centre) receiving the panels from calligrapher Ursula McKay and Mysteries’ Chair Ros Hallifax

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Poems written by prisoners and presented during Lichfield Mysteries are to have a permanent place in the prison.
Governor Teresa Clarke (centre) receiving the panels from calligrapher Ursula McKay and Mysteries’ Chair Ros Hallifax
Offenders at HMP & YOI Swinfen Hall penned the poems following a workshop led by Gary Longden of The Lichfield Poets on behalf of the Mysteries. The workshop was part of the prison’s education programme. The Education Department seeks to provide a variety of experiences as part of its programme and this workshop greatly added to the enrichment of their literacy work. Some of their work has been copied onto special panels by Ursula McKay, a voice coach for the Mysteries. Ursula belongs to local calligraphy groups and was inspired by the poems and asked if she could use quotations from some of the works for the panels. They will be presented to the Governor, who has agreed that the work can be displayed in the prison. The poems, inspired by the themes of stories in the Mysteries, were written by several of the young inmates and read by Mysteries’ participants at Speakers’ Corner in Lichfield over the two days of the main production in May. Chair of the Mysteries’ Council of Management, Ros Hallifax, said: “We were pleased to have a liaison with Swinfen YOI for the poems to be performed by us during the Mysteries and we are delighted that the Governor has agreed to have the panels displayed in the prison. “We sincerely hope that Lichfield Mysteries will be invited to take part in the prison’s education programme in the future.” Governor Teresa Clarke added: “Projects such as this assist prisoners in both developing their literacy skills and building their self-esteem. “This can be instrumental in leading to a reduction in the likelihood of them reoffending on release. “We were delighted to be involved in this very worthwhile project and will display the results with pride.”

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