Phoenix Futures Blog – Part 1

We arrived with our paper, string and scissors expecting to meet approximately 10 people, there were only 3 people but reassured more people were on the way and another couple had genuine excuses. Although we were a little disappointed, we were aware that people in recovery tend to lead quite chaotic lifestyles and it might take time to build consistency in the group.

Initially it felt like the group might take some convincing about puppet making, however, they were quick to embrace the initial exercise of describing what they saw when the objects were laid out in front of them on the table, seeing, waves, sharks and killer whales within the materials.  One man (who we shall call ‘G’) who was quite quiet, instantly took to the task and needed little support, stating that any creative opportunities were really important to him. There was a positive relaxed atmosphere in the room and a lot of laughter. The two other men needed more support with the process and admitted to being way out of their comfort zone. Despite this at the end of the session they spoke enthusiastically and said they would be back the following week.

The staff who hadn’t been in the session, were impressed by what had already been achieved and praised the guys.


There were 4 people in the next session. One new man instantly seemed distracted and anxious, he left for an appointment but had a go at making a puppet and promised to be back. Another woman ‘M’ immediately apologised that she would also have to leave early to collect her children from school. However, she was clearly engrossed in the process and eventually left very reluctantly. Apparentley she had been quite fragile up until recently and was in the relatively early stages of her recovery process.

The quiet man ‘G’ from the previous week, was totally consumed in his puppet, taking moments to examine it and looking deep in thought.

A big character in the group ‘J’ who you wouldn’t instantly expect to be enthusiastic about puppet making, laughed at himself when he told his friend on the phone, ‘Im making a puppet!’ his friend said ‘You’re a puppet !’ (this term is a fairly common derogatory term in Glasgow) He didn’t appear to care, he was enjoying himself so much. At the point when his puppet only had one leg, we asked him if he was going to add another? ‘J’ only has one leg himself. He replied ‘why not give it 2 legs?’. ‘J’ then commented it had taken him 27 years to admit that he was disabled. He also commented on how he always needs to be busy, recognising it’s when he’s not busy he gets into trouble. The majority of the men we’ve met have had some experience of the prison system.


Angela Smith

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