An insight to the exhibition of our groundbreaking Inside Outside prison art exhibition, working with the TDAS team and LPT at Glen Parva Young Offenders Institute, working with at-risk young offenders that suffer with mental health or substance misuse.
Soft Touch Case Study Film
Art and bipolar disorder
My name is [Arthur]. I live in Syston, Leicetsershire [and] work in my local fish and chip shop. I am currently a participant of the Soft Touch Arts STart session on a Thursday evening.
I have had bipolar for 9 years now and I have been coming to Soft Touch on and off through out these 9 years.
Soft Touch have helped me get over barriers in my life like talking to people and gaining confidence to help and work with other people.
I was with a mental health group called the Pier team and my support worker from the organisation got me involved with Soft Touch.
I have been playing drums for 9 years all thanks to Soft Touch, I had a few lessons off Jim Jackson and then I progressed on my own. And I also have learnt a great skill in the form of graffiti art (stencilling and free hand).
My favourite memory from being at Soft Touch has to be doing a gig at a local bar in Leicester where I played the drums on my own for 2 or 3 minutes.
My perspective has changed in a few ways since I have been here. For example realising a lot of people understand mental health, more now than ever and everyone is open to talk about it and help
Soft-touch arts got me involved with the mentoring scheme. This is where I had a one to one meeting once a week with a guy from a local business. This has helped me reach a goal in my life of gaining money management skills and being able to write my CV which has helped me get the job I have now.
I believe that every one should get involved with a local not-for-profit sector group because it is very beneficial for learning new skills and being able to interact with other people from similar backgrounds.
Finally I’d like to thank soft-touch for helping me through out the years and I am so happy with how the STart exhibition went and well done to everyone that got involved.
[Eddy] attended the BUNP Positive Vibes sessions at New Parks Centre for Young People. Eddy is on the autistic spectrum and is supported by a worker.
Eddy was a lot older than the other young people who came to these sessions.
He sometimes liked to call himself a helper. Jim noticed he struggled to settle to any activity and seemed unsure of his role. Gradually, Eddy began to talk to Jim about his interests. He loved cartooning and gaming and had made a number of characters, which he would post online.
Jim made sure Eddy had a laptop to work on and encouraged him to begin learning Photoshop. This was difficult at first for Eddy as he was building his characters from shapes in Power Point. This meant that he was constrained by a very specific process whilst making his characters. Eddy had difficulty in coping with the freedom offered by Photoshop. Jim also realised that the session at NPCYP did not allow him time to work more closely with Eddy. Jim suggested to Eddy that he consider signing up to another Soft Touch project based at Soft Touch called STart.
This session contained young people who were closer in age and interests to him. Eddy also had the support of his care worker in getting to this session. It took several months in 2015 to allow Eddy time to consider this offer. Eventually, he signed up for STart in October 2015. This was a turning point for Eddy. He took a few weeks to get used to the different and more mature atmosphere of the Start sessions and spent the first few weeks sketching and working on ideas to make in Photoshop. He also met a lot of young people who shared his interest in cartooning and character making. Jim observed him having conversations with a number of young people about his interests. Previously, he had not been around other young people whom he could have these conversations with.
Since attending STart, he has produced a number of Photoshop pieces based on self-portrait photographs dressed in various outfits he wears to comic and gaming conventions. The portraits were edited into new backgrounds as part of Eddy’s progression in Photoshop. One such portrait was shown in an exhibition of work by the STart group during March and April 2016. Eddy was very pleased when it proved to be the only piece of work sold during that show. It is a measure of Eddy’s progress that he was initially reluctant to sell the piece as he considered it wasn’t finished to his satisfaction. Jim and his worker, Clive, took time to explain to Eddy that the person wanting to buy the work liked it as it was and that Eddy could still finish the work and show a new version in a future exhibition. Eventually, Eddy took this point on board and sold the print for £30.
He has also made props for different character costumes and is currently making a cut out life size Danger Mouse, which is his favourite cartoon character. Eddy is now more able to interact with his peers and able to both experiment with his ideas and accept occasional failures as part of the learning process. Eddy has made excellent progress in the last year.
A week in the life of Soft Touch
A short film capturing what a normal week in the life of Soft Touch is like, and hearing what participants think of Soft Touch.