Great news for Southampton Youth Offending Service as they achieve Artsmark Gold
Date Created: 5th Jun 2020
They are the first youth offending service in England to achieve a Gold Artsmark Award, yet 12 months ago it could have been a very different story as Jon Gardner and the Southampton Youth Offending Service (SYOS) team were having to make difficult decisions around resources and budgets. But at a time when cuts including arts activities were on the table, they focused more energy into embedding arts and creativity, and the impact has been life changing across the organisation.
Through committing to their Artsmark journey, the team introduced simple but useful practices, like holding appointments with children and young people in creative spaces like art galleries and theatre coffee shops, as well as having children and young people’s artwork on permanent display around their office. SYOS have worked with both local artists and organisations, and been part of wider movements like Cultural Education Partnerships and Southampton’s ambition to be a City of Culture, creating networks and opportunities across sectors and facilitating the connection of arts organisations with other children and young people’s services. The most important achievement is that none of the children and young people who have taken part in one of these art programmes has reoffended.
Jon Gardner, Team Manager at SYOS said
“We are so proud of achieving Artsmark Gold, and the work connected to it – it’s a real boost for the children and the team! Over the past two years SYOS has seen an 8.1% drop in reoffending, and the arts and creative practice is a great tool in our kit bag of interventions to promote change when working with vulnerable children. We have taken a holistic approach to embedding creativity and the arts across the service including staff training and inviting children and young people to have a seat at quarterly steering group meetings, and arts and creativity is in our values and mission. Our Artsmark journey has created an energy and focus, and gone beyond the statutory offer to create real change. I would like to thank the children, the team, artists and practitioners, plus Artswork and Arts Council England for their efforts and support.”
SYOS has established a strong commitment to the arts with a long-term vision and ambition, they have seen how the arts and Artsmark can make small imprints through to large impacts on the lives of children and young people, especially those at risk. They are only the second YOS to achieve an Artsmark award, so we asked Jon if there was any advice he would give to others…
“Do it, go beyond the statutory delivery as work like this can enrich the whole of what you do. There can be pressure and questions, from yourself as much as anyone, but there is also a lot of support, opportunity and reward when you commit to something like Artsmark and go for it”
Youth Offending Services, pupil referral units, education settings and schools in the South East interested in working towards their own Artsmark Award can find out more by clicking here or by contacting our Artsmark team at Artswork by emailing Artsmark@Artswork.org.uk.