(Examples of reactions: inside (left) and outside (right) of prison on the theme word ‘Bubble’)

With the money that was raised last year by IAAR during the ‘Music for life’ campaigns for the prison in Leuven-Centraal, the project “Bubbling inside and outside the walls” was set up. Due to corona the regular PRH workshops had not been able to take place. The project was initiated by myself, a PRH educator, in collaboration with another organization that prepares prisoners in Leuven Centraal for the labour market. The intention was to give people the opportunity to express and share their feelings and thoughts about deprivation of liberty. Furthermore, to get the sympathy of inmates for the lockdown outside the walls, so that people outside the prison could also be involved.

We developed a notebook with lockdown-related theme-words and questions, such as ‘bubble’, ‘the 1.5-meter society’, ‘outdoor-exercise’, ‘safety’, ‘perspective’, ‘loneliness’ etc. Participants could write down and/or express, through creative means, what they experienced.

Outside the prison, 90 people requested the notebook to participate, 70 of which have returned for the follow-up. Within the prison, of course, available resources are limited. But the prisoners who took part in this project found a lot of support from it for several months. As a result of this project, a counsellor had worthwhile conversations with the participating prisoners.

A number of workshops are planned as follow-up, hopefully for participants inside and outside of the prison together. During these the participants will not only work on their experiences using the notebooks, but also on how it has connected them with life inside or outside the prison.
The project will also be featured in an exhibition in the library of Leuven as part of the National Prison Days.
We are still looking for a publisher to be able to bundle all the results, and most probably the workshop will also be offered online in order to reach all interested parties from the outside.

Machteld Govaerts, PRH educator

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