Write to Freedom was founded in 2008 by Creative Director, Caspar Walsh. It started out as a response to what was seen as an urgent need for young men to experience contemporary rites of passage into adulthood. A creative programme was developed, working with old and new myths, encouraging a dialogue with the natural world and building a new kind of community or ‘village’. These villages are places in nature and in the wider community where staff and students are valued and respected, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done.
Write to Freedom initially developed a course for young male prisoners at HMP Ashfield, with Caspar going into the prison to facilitate writing workshops and courses. Over time, Caspar sought to remove the prison environment from this equation; to take these young men to a space where they could connect with themselves and others in a deeper way, feel free and create a vision for their future lives. Dartmoor held the answer.
For 5 years, young men were released on temporary license from HMP Ashfield to participate in Write to Freedom residential weekends on Dartmoor. These weekends became part of Ashfield’s core activities and were highly regarded by prison staff at all levels. Ashfield’s YOI wing closed in 2012. Since then Write to Freedom has started to work with a wider range of socially excluded groups; including people in recovery from addiction, prisoners and their families and young offenders.
Our primary focus is now working with substance misuse recovery and the wider field of 'recovery' including those struggling with mental health. We deliver to mixed genders, 18 years plus. We are also developing single sex programmes for men and women to explore issues of gender, how we have been affected by our gender and how we can come back into mixed gender circles with a greater respect, understanding and shared wisdom.
We focus as much on the personal and professional development of our staff as the participants. A grounded, self-aware and resourced staff team helps create a fertile seedbed for change and growth.
Our work goes from strength to strength. At its heart we help humans cross thresholds into sometimes challenging, often exciting new stages of life. How to share the road and the load. How to support each other in transforming old stories into new opportunities for healing and growth.
The journey continues for us all.
- Write to Freedom