Synergy Theatre Project

“At Synergy, I’ve met people with so much talent and now they’re using their talent for good rather than bad. It’s opened my eyes and challenged me, and I’ve had the chance to learn new skills too.”

London

Charity location

£75,000

Grant size

3 years

Funding period

Our partnership

Synergy Theatre Project run theatre-based rehabilitation and resettlement programmes with ex-offenders and prisoners. The charity received a £75,000 Invest grant over three years, funding the salary of an Artistic Director and General Manager.

Esther Baker, Artistic Director said:

“The Foundation’s contribution towards our core funding has been brilliant. It allowed us to develop the progression routes and accreditation we offer prisoners and ex-offenders, as well as giving us the time and capacity to cultivate the partnerships that make us strong, and expand the work placements we offer.”

Anthony first met Synergy when he was a serving prisoner and decided to join the prison’s theatre group. While in prison, Anthony performed to fellow prisoners and since being released he has been involved with Synergy’s Peer Mentoring Scheme and is now on one of their theatre courses:

“We performed to prisoners, friends, family and specially invited people from the theatre industry. Even though I felt really vulnerable, I put myself out there and got great reviews.

“Last Christmas I was stabbed eight times – that’s just the kind of world I grew up in and before you realise what’s going on, that’s your world too. I’m getting away from that now and Synergy is giving me a platform to do that. They’ve given me the ball and now I’ve got to run with it.”

Yvonne Wilson, a service user:

“At Synergy, I’ve met people with so much talent and now they’re using their talent for good rather than bad. It’s opened my eyes and challenged me, and I’ve had the chance to learn new skills too.”

Another service user, Frank:

“My first contact was Synergy was when I was in prison 10 years ago. They came into the prison to put on a play for Black History Month and I was cast in the lead role. I’d always loved drama and being someone else – all criminals do – but I could never afford to go to any drama classes or anything like that.

“It became my escape – that’s what all prisoners look for, and it was the best escapism I could find. Performing gave me such a high. Synergy came to court with me and told them about what I’d been doing and the judge gave me the chance to go on tour with them.

“I’ve achieved so much since then – my liberty for 10 years, a life with my son, and I’ve also now written a script and book based on my life which is just the icing on the cake.”

Esther added:

“It’s great that a funder is championing the charities it supports and helping us to raise our profile. Additionally, the rare opportunity for tailored support provided through the Enhance programme will enable us to focus our attention on areas of organisational development which need strengthening during this period of growth. We are envisaging one of these areas will be building a digital infrastructure which will have wide-reaching impact.

The Foundation’s contribution towards our core funding has been brilliant. It allowed us to develop the progression routes and accreditation we offer prisoners and ex-offenders.

Esther Baker, Artistic Director

What do we mean by Offending, Prison or Community Service?

People with a history of offending which significantly impacts on everyday life; rehabilitation of people with a custodial or community service sentence, including prevention of reoffending.

Our Impact on Offending, Prison or Community Service in 2018

21

new grants helping people leaving prison or serving a community sentence

120

partnerships with small charities supporting people with a history of offending

2.2

years is the average length of our grants for Offending, Prison or Community Service charities

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