Project develops media skills of young people at HMP & YOI Polmont

Edinburgh Napier students work with establishment to produce film and series of photographs

Date posted

21 April 2017


Last updated

8 December 2021

A creative project between HMP & YOI Polmont, Edinburgh Napier University and Fife College has given an insight into what life is like within Scotland’s national facility for male young offenders.Group of students in front of a building

The project has seen a group of six male learners within the establishment’s learning centre – which is led and developed by Fife College - work with students from Edinburgh Napier to produce a film and series of photographs that touch on their reflections of their time within the establishment so far.

Through a series of sessions with BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Television students, the learners have spent time developing a range of photographic and film-making techniques and have collated their efforts into a short film and photography exhibition. The results recently went on display at a celebration event which gave learners and their families the chance to celebrate their academic and personal achievements.

The film features several learners talking about adjusting to life in prison and offers an introduction on the learning opportunities within the establishment. The photography is based on the theme of possessions and features images of objects that have personal significance to the learners.

After being encouraged to think about objects that were important to them, the learners were taught how to photograph using a range of camera techniques shown to them by the participating students. Photographs ranged from poignant images of rosary beads, CDs and other items of importance.

The project was facilitated in the establishment’s Fife College Learning Centre which is part of the Offender Outcomes area – an area that provided a number of natural creative learning opportunities for the project. It was facilitated by staff from Fife College and supported by Mary-Ann Kennedy, photography lecturer and Kirsten Macleod, film and TV lecturer, both of Edinburgh Napier.

The meaning behind the photos

Lindsay Morgan, placement co-ordinator within Edinburgh Napier’s School of Arts and Creative Industries and who was involved with the Polmont project, said: “Edinburgh Napier already has a very successful partnership with the SPS and Fife College through the Prison Literacy Placement Programme established by Anne Schwan. It has been very rewarding to build on this link and involve students from our Television and Photography courses in a project which has been incredibly rewarding for all participants. Our goal was always to collaboratively create tangible results and the final images and film produced will have a real impact and purpose going forward.

“Both the student teachers and young learners at Polmont should feel very proud of what they have achieved.”

Kirsten Macleod, lecturer in Television & Film at Edinburgh Napier, said: “We were very pleased to be able to incorporate this project into BA TV's fourth year Community Media module. The students have gained valuable experience working with the young learners in Polmont. I was really impressed with the maturity and professional approach of all the students. It was a challenge but very rewarding for them to make this film. A big thank-you to those who helped facilitate and co-ordinate this opportunity.”

Jade Cofor, third year Photography BA (Hons) at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Throughout the course there has been a range of voluntary placements that Edinburgh Napier University has facilitated for us to gain industry experience within the area we wish to work. When offered the opportunity to volunteer at HMP & YOI Polmont, I knew instantly that it was something I would love to be a part of.

“I think it is extremely important for young people from all backgrounds of life to be given an equal chance to both an academic and creative education. I was introduced to photography much later than many of my colleagues and when I discovered my passion for the subject it opened up another world of possibilities.

“Volunteering was an invaluable experience that not only gave me the opportunity to challenge my own ability to introduce and teach the basic skills of photography to others, but gave the young learners a creative outlet to give the learners the opportunity to learn something new. The fruition of the final images illustrates the accomplishment of the learners, students, Fife College and Edinburgh Napier University.”