Some prisoners at Glasgow' Barlinnie are taking part in a groundbreaking drama programme.

Scotland’s drugs minister Christina McKelvie visited the East End jail to see a performance this week.

The Anonymous Drama group, run by Creative Change Collective, is helping to cut reoffending.

They support prisoners using arts and creative processes associated with film, theatre, and performance, improving their mental health and aiming to reduce reoffending.

It allows men who might struggle to express themselves to do so in a safe environment, which is less emotionally triggering.

Participants speak to one another about their experiences but do not reveal which parts of the stories they choose to tell are fictional and which parts are based on real life.

The programme consists of 12 to 16-week modules, including the development of a group script, culminating in a rehearsed reading for friends, family, support staff and external partners.

Charity founder Mark MacNicol, was inspired to set up Creative Change Collective following the death of his brother Jason, from a heroin overdose.

Glasgow Times: Mark MacNicolMark MacNicol (Image: Supplied)

Earlier this year, the group was awarded £5,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to support the prison’s film and radio group.

Primarily working with people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, they deliver the classes in four council areas, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, and North Ayrshire.

READ NEXT: 'An eye-opener': Inside the prison course transforming Low Moss inmates

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Christina McKelvie said: “I’ve seen first-hand the therapeutic value of culture and art, and I’m pleased to see the positive effect of this project which the Scottish Government has helped fund.

"It was a powerful, inspiring performance.”

Mark MacNicol, Creative Change Collective project director, said: “This programme is making a huge difference to people trying to turn their lives around in prison, and we were grateful to have the opportunity to showcase what our Barlinnie group has achieved.

“Our work supports people in prison to learn new skills, develop their confidence and sense of teamwork, and prepare for life outside in a way that makes it less likely they will re-offend.

“Our delivery teams say the changes in some of the participants are extraordinary, with those who are initially hesitant becoming enthused as time goes on. We are keen to expand the programme to more jails across Scotland.

“We are always looking for new ways to address social issues through the power of the arts and creativity, and we would welcome new partnerships to help us in this goal.”

Glasgow Times: Michael StoneyMichael Stoney (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)
Michael Stoney, Governor in Charge at HMP Barlinnie, said: “We are grateful to Creative Change Collective for the work they are doing here in Barlinnie.

“We know that creative opportunities like this can give individuals a positive outlet to express themselves, build their confidence and improve their communication and life skills.

“All of these things support those in our care to make positive changes to their lives and better prepare them for life on release.”