Koestler Awards

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best known prison arts charity and they work across the UK’s secure systems and criminal justice, including secure children’s homes. This also includes people in custodial settings (prisons, young offenders institutions, medium and high secure hospitals, and immigration centres), and people in the community (on probation, engage with young offending teams, and on community sentences).

They aim to:

  • help young people in secure homes, offenders, secure patients and detainees lead more positive lives by motivating them to participate and achieve in the arts
  • increase public awareness and understanding of arts by offenders, secure patients and detainees
  • be a dynamic, responsive organisation which achieves excellent quality and value for money.

In 2016, students at Atkinson gained 89 awards and certificates.  These were given to 28 individual students and we have one piece of our students’ work on display in the main exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in London:


This year, there were over 6,700 entries and there are only 190 artworks chosen for the exhibition, so to have a piece of art selected from Atkinson is a great achievement.

See some of our students’ artwork in the gallery.

During the exhibition, visitors are invited to leave comments – the work displayed by the young people from Atkinson received some very heart felt and complimentary observations.  One comment from the 2015 exhibition is précised below:

‘Locked in Rainbows’

Your work is truly amazing…  Someone with your insight could change the world.  I truly hope you come on the other side a better person, but know this; you have just inspired a Northern lad from a single parent background to go on and achieve, and I will never forget your amazing and profound piece of art.  I hope you go on to achieve too.  Thank you so much.

Locked in - artwork
Locked in rainbows

Students are also encouraged to submit pieces of written work for the Koestler Awards.  There are many categories, including individual poems, short stories and even books.