If you would like to find out more about how you can support CAST, please contact us on 020 7281 9928. Alternatively, donations can be made online by clicking here
The Creative and Supportive trust was established in 1982 by a former prisoner and talented craftswoman, Lennie Speer. She worked together with staff from Holloway prison’s education department; Jenny Cole and Richard Brown to create a service which would nurture women’s creativity after their release from prison. They had noticed a lack of continuity between the classes and training provided to women in prison and the harsh reality that awaited them outside. CAST was created to bridge this gap and to support women in developing their skills in order to move on to greatness. 32 years on, this vision is still relevant to vulnerable women as recent research from the Arts Alliance Evidence Library has shown.
The founding principles of CAST remain the same, with continuity as our core focus, however our programmes and services have expanded to include a range of personal development courses, physical activity classes including singing, drama, IT and many more. CAST now offers five holistic programmes in Healthy Living, Creative Arts, Personal Development, Computing and IT and Moving On.
Over 30 years, CAST has developed a successful model of working with a very hard-to-reach group of women, by providing free services, in a welcoming and safe women-only environment. We recognise the barriers that our clients face in playing a full role in society, and in particular in education, and have tailored our services to address these problems by: covering the costs of travel and childcare; providing support around mental health and addiction through our Inclusion Project; providing a mix of short and longer-term courses; ensuring that all of our courses focus on ways to continue studying elsewhere, including visits to local colleges; providing intensive 1-2-1 services where needed; providing 1-2-1 education,employment, volunteering and advice sessions and action plans.
Women with a history of offending, addiction or mental illness are socially, educationally and financially excluded. Poor educational attainment at school provides them with little leverage in the labour market. Convictions make it harder for them to compete in the labour market. Lack of formal education means that they may have little understanding of how the education system works. Our 2011-12 annual evaluation showed that 90% of students were happy with the services offered by CAST (Big Lottery Report Year 1).
10% of CAST students are currently in paid employment and a further 27% feel they are now in a position to find paid work. Due to severe and complex mental health conditions, CAST recognises that not everyone is ready or able to enter or re-join the work force. However, we do endeavour to support those who are ready in finding and maintaining new careers. 66% of CAST students who are in work were able to find and continue their positions as a result of the support offered by CAST. 38% of CAST students are currently engaging in education programmes outside of CAST and 73% of these were able to find their course through CAST. 69% of students engage in a range of other activities outside of CAST from theatre performance, to astrology to Nordic Walking classes run by Camden council. 25% of students were able to find and maintain these activities through CAST.
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