Power of Pen Arkbound Foundation awarded

Arkbound Foundation awarded National Lottery funding to Tackle Mental Health Issues through Writing ( Power of Pen )

We are delighted to announce that the Arkbound Foundation has been awarded funding from the National Lottery for its upcoming project: “Power of the Pen: Mental Health & Covid-19“.

The project is dedicated to reaching out to vulnerable individuals and traditionally hard to reach groups in Scotland who have found their mental health exacerbated by the social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this project is to help individuals tackle these issues through a series of workshops and creative writing courses. Participants in the project will have been through difficult circumstances, not just because of the pandemic, but also due to the various cultural, social and financial challenges the last year has created which have had direct and indirect negative impacts on their emotional and psychological well-being.

Mike Findlay, Chair of Trustees, comments:

‘The pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of many of us. Many people are frustrated, their thoughts and feelings are suppressed, and some are experiencing extreme loneliness and isolation.

Through our mental health project, we are aiming to give people an outlet to tell their stories and build their resilience. The ability to write and capture your feelings authentically on paper can be therapeutic but it can also build a sense of community – people recognise they are not alone in their experiences and feelings. Our hope is that this project will capture the imagination of many who have come through hardship during the pandemic, giving hope that there is life on the other side.

We are very grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for making this project possible’.

digital white background Arkbound Foundation awarded National Lottery funding to Tackle Mental Health Issues through Writing ( Power of Pen )

This is a very innovative and ground-breaking project, which will be exemplary of how we can use writing to confront and remedy mental health issues, and one which has huge potential to grow throughout Scotland.

The National Lottery’s support will enable the charity to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, and the impact it will make on people who need it most, and thus demonstrate a vivid platform for rehabilitation and revival during the pandemic.

Mike Findlay continues: ‘We know there is hidden talent and people bursting with creativity – who knows where this project might lead to and what creativity and potential it can unleash? We believe everyone deserves a right to write and have the views heard. BAME and other hard to reach groups often struggle to get published and this is also an area that we are working on.

Arkbound is very much seeing this project as a pilot and one that we will roll out nationally also. We would welcome funding partners and supporters to help make this happen.’

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For further information, please get in touch with mike@arkfound.org or waltraud@arkfound.org

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Modern Prejudice – Some forms of discrimination

The View

‘The View’ – a magazine for women in the criminal justice system

By Kate Wilmot

‘Let there be no doubt. Education should be at the heart of the prison system…If education is the engine of social mobility, it is also the engine of prison rehabilitation.’ – Dame Sally Coates, Unlocking Potential: A Review of Education in Prison

There’s a stampede of animals when movement flows
Ferocious tigers and flamboyant flamingos
Some animals go 2 X 2
Some go it alone
Walking up and off the landing
Is like walking trough a jungle
When movement flows
Don’t be late
Try not to get trampled on
And stay on the straight road
Because anything can happen when movement flows

- By Marshmellow, a prisoner at HMP Downview

The View Magazine is a campaigning platform and social enterprise, which is by and for women in the criminal justice system. We give a voice to women who may be silenced by imprisonment and ensuing social death.

Writing and creativity are not only cathartic, but are recognized as a way out of offending behaviour. According to an assessment of the English and Maths skills levels of prisoners in England, 86% have below L2 literacy (Brian Creese, November 2016) . It is therefore vital that writing opportunities are available in prisons to tackle this major deficit.

It is also the case that a high proportion of women from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who have experienced domestic abuse in the criminal justice system and been unfairly ignored, as touched upon in the report We are Invisible . Better practice in the courts, police, caseworkers and legal practitioners is very much needed, adding to the growing body of evidence that prison is rarely the answer for women. There are better community-based solutions that need to be properly funded.

Founded in 2019, The View publishes content from incarcerated women and those on license in the community, highlighting the injustices they are facing, with particular emphasis on those from minority ethnic backgrounds and women who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse. We are examining how women who have survived abuse and trauma are being let down by the very services meant to protect them, and how they end up being criminalised.

Our summer issue includes guest writers such as Zoe Buckman, Ruby Tandoh and Bee Wilson. Zoe Buckman is a former model who is now an artist and activist who explores themes of feminism, mortality and equality when talking about domestic violence through the concept of “ride or die”.

Content by and for women prisoners is uncensored, shining a light on the conditions in women’s prisons and the daily injustices that they face.  All content submitted by prisoners is paid for and is available for the prisoner to spend upon release for resettlement purposes. Any women in prison in England can also get a copy of the magazine, and at no charge. The magazine is available at 93 outlets in England and by subscription at

To find out more about The View, visit https://theviewmag.org.uk/

To contribute to their active crowdfunding, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-justice-refomers

supporting a diverse

Supporting a diverse, independent publishing industry

The impacts of COVID-19 on all sectors have been immense, but perhaps one of those hardest hit is the independent publishing industry. Already heavily reliant on events to garner income, as well as book sales, with no dedicated financial support from the government, many small publishers across the UK are on the brink of closure.

Yet the importance these outlets play in society is immense. If the publishing landscape folds in upon itself, with only the largest and strongest companies surviving, all evidence suggests there will be a huge fall in diverse authors – not to mention those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The drive for profits and perceived commercial viability, arising from the stereotyping of those from privileged backgrounds who dominate the industry, means supporting diversity will have little priority.

People from Black and Minority Ethnic Backgrounds; those with disabilities; group who have direct experience of significant social exclusion, with powerful accounts to convey – all these (already under-represented within literature) will be pushed further to the sidelines.

Our charity, The Arkbound Foundation, has therefore launched a collaborative crowdfunding campaign, with the sole aim of continuing its key work with diverse and disadvantaged authors, whilst supporting the wider sector.

To find out more, please visit:https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/access-to-publishing

Slaver in the River

Slaver in the River

In the wake of Edward Colston’s statue being thrown and retrieved from the Harbourside in Bristol, George Ayres reflects on history.

George is a member of Bristol Reclaim Independent Living, which gets supported by Arkbound Foundation. He constructed the first poem on the evening of the Sunday after hearing in the afternoon of  the statue being pulled down and placed into Bristol Harbour; the second was on the morning of Thursday having learned that the statue had been fished out by the Bristol City Council.

Slaver in the River

High thy stand  
Fall by hand  
Now you will quiver  
Slaver in the River  
Vindicated thyself by wealth  
You indurated that wealth  
You disarticulated others’ selves  
You obliterated their health  
You rooted your wealth  
By looting their selves  
“He gave to the city!”  
Says gammons in pity  
While you placed heavy chains  
On souls sold to Jamaica Bay  
Sold for spice for your gain  
As they came to work in pain  
If they had not died on the way  
“Tis fair in King Charles’s day”  
The gammon will say  
Till they forgot pain  
That made you gain  
The wealth you rooted  
The selves you looted  
As done in King George’s day  
How can we give you pity  
When you robbed others of dignity?  
Before and after you: souls were sold  
Lives sacrificed in the name of gold  
Made to give and toil  
Until they became soil  
You sold lives for spice  
Now you pay the price  
You arise proud: now fall  
Down to the streets you go  
Stones are named after you  
Now: forsake you in thy call  
Sold now take you from their woe  
To finally let you go  
Go into the river  
They may not wear chains  
But they are kept chained  
Through that which you  
And your friends took  
They are set to woe  
As you grab them by hook  
Yet they never forsake  
Their will to be free  
On either side of the sea  
They will make the Earth shake  
For their dissent is old as their chains  
And they now have a world to gain  
As Haiti forced Napoleon to humility  
So now folks cry for their humanity  
To face knees on necks  
As their grandparents face nooses  
They have nothing to lose  
As for the pigs: go to Hell  
For cracking down on the doves  
No wonder Doctor King once spurred:  
“Riots are the language of the unheard”  
Now you whose name litters roads  
Do you wash the blood on thy hands?  
Feel no need from where you stand?  
You gave crumbs to the poor  
To golden the name of yours  
By selling souls for your hoard  
Rivers of tears gammons pour  
As you’re laid on the floor  
Till you were taken to bed  
In the river go your head!  
What you gave you stole  
That is the story: the whole!  
Man, woman, child: sold!  
No price too dear to hold?  
You had souls thrown overboard  
So they will not spoil your hoard  
Join those bodies on the waterbed!  
You made it: lie you in your bed!  
Once you stood  
With no good  
Now you will shiver  
Slaver in the River  
This poem of 92 lines is dedicated for the victims of Edward Colston and other precipitants of the Atlantic Slave Trade. I give my support to the protests of Black Lives Matter and to the city of Bristol which took to the streets in the name of justice. Solidarity forever! 

Statue Fishing AKA To Fish a Slaver

Sequel to Slaver in the River 
By George A. Ayres 
At Bristol Harbour came the scene  
Green winding pulled by machine  
Metal hands pull out a metal man  
What do they set out? What plan  
For a slaver that was in the river?  
Set your eyes from the riverbed  
Of which a statue rested their head  
See a man deeply thinking most concise  
Of the lives he sold for a mighty price  
Before: pale guys in shorts and socks  
Tried to fish out the statue with rod  
That day their venture was faux  
The next day came forth a squad  
Who set up a much stronger rod  
This machine used green winding  
To pull the slaver out the tiding  
At Bristol Harbour came the scene  
Of a slaver fished out with a machine  
Oh slaver: what to do with thee?  
After you threw souls into the sea?  
Best rest your head on a riverbed?  
This poem of 25 lines is reflection of the recent extraction of the bronze statue of the slave trader Edward Colston from Bristol Harbour and is dedicated to his victims. Solidarity forever! 
Spotlight on access

Spotlight on access to publishing for marginalised groups

A recent study this year by Professor Katy Shaw at Northumbria University has highlighted the difficulties faced by people from marginalised backgrounds, including working class, into getting published. This follows on from similar research, like that of Professor Claire Squires at Stirling University, and yet the Arts Council and other publicly funded bodies responsible for the arts appear to be doing very little to address a continuing diversity deficit in publishing.

One of our very authors, Shane Johnstone, has written about what it means to get published when coming from a disadvantaged background, which of added obstacle when writing about certain topics. You can read his blog piece here.

Connecting with what Shane says, the study of Professor Shaw goes on to note literature plays such an important role in personal development and dispelling stereotypes, something we have argued for years and sought to tackle through projects undertaken by the Arkbound Foundation. The role of mentoring, which was cast aside in one funding application to the Arts Council, is explored in the study. Of those we work with, some have asked why – out of 3 years of social impact work – we have not received a penny of arts funding, despite millions of pounds going towards publishers with commercial objectives and none of the emphasis on helping disadvantaged writers. It is testament to our staff, authors, volunteers and trustees that we have fought back against this inequality, pushing into new areas and gaining recognition on an international level.

It may be somewhat ironic, as a disadvantaged organisation ourselves, founded with lived experience of disadvantage and Equalities Led from bottom to top, that we have not been mentioned in the study or linked research. The fact remains that many voices are continuing to be left out, but the onus of what has been carefully researched still has force.

You can see Professor Shaw’s study in full via https://arkbound.ac.uk/publishing/time-to-open-up-publishing/

Logo Telegraph 4 Google and the Daily Telegraph

Google and the Daily Telegraph

In November 2017 we uncovered a concerning link between the internet’s search engine giant, Google, and one of the UK’s dominant right-wing newspapers, the Daily Telegraph.

We were alerted to this connection after an unprecedented lifting of the Daily Telegraph’s malicious and inaccurate article that attacked our regulating organisation IMPRESS. Long a voracious opponent to IMPRESS, the Telegraph spotted a weak spot by taking advantage of our founder’s history and warped this to aid their campaign. The article went from appearing on page 8 of Google for searches of ‘Arkbound’ to coming near the top of page 1, in the space of only a few weeks. This also occurred over 10 months after it was published.

What makes this drastic lifting even stranger is that, throughout the entire article, there is only one mention of Arkbound. Moreover, all other search engines list it far from page 1 – in most cases, behind page 10. There is no clear reason for this based on Google’s own search engine policies, either, because there are a preponderance of other more recent and relevant articles about Arkbound, which also feature Arkbound rather than just being a passing mention. Many of these links are from authoritative sources, yet they continue to be placed below the Telegraph article.

We decided to do some digging and discovered some shocking correlations with other Telegraph articles during the EU Referendum and 2017 UK General Election. Over both these periods, articles from the Telegraph – campaigning for Brexit and attacking the Labour Party leader – were consistently placed high up on Google search results, usually at the very top.

We have reached the conclusion that Google and the Telegraph Media Group have an undisclosed agreement and have alerted other more neutral media outlets in an attempt to elicit the truth. What makes such an apparent link highly objectionable is that the Telegraph remains the UK’s most inaccurate media outlet, as found by its own ‘regulator’, and was fined for illegal political canvassing during the 2017 UK General Election. With editorial perspectives that often veer right of the Daily Mail, this newspaper has a track record of poor journalistic standards, as revealed by its own former employees. It has consistently acted as a political springboard for the Conservative Party, condemning any figure that represents a challenge to right-wing perspectives – from Nelson Mandella to Labour Party leaders – or who can be demonised by right-wing rhetoric. Its two billionaire-owner twins, the Barclay brothers, have also been implicated in serious tax evasion and even maliciously removed the sole doctor of a small British island because residents objected to their conduct. All these facts are widely reported and verified – although you may wish to research them using another search engine.

We call upon Google to end any agreements that impede upon search engine impartiality and Google’s own ethical policies to ‘do no evil’.

To read more about the Google-Telegraph connection, visit https://medium.com/@boundless_50018/latest