The art awards scheme for offenders, secure patients and detainees

We’re the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.

Our awards receive over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement and transform their lives. Our national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.

We have no endowment or capital – our work depends entirely on donations.

Read more about us

Koestler Host at the RE:FORM Art By Offenders, Secure Patients And Detainees Exhibition, Southbank Centre, 2015

Jobs & volunteering

Volunteer Arts Mentors for Ex-Prisoners

We are looking for artists, creative writers, musicians, and arts industry professionals, to help support our mentoring scheme. We are particularly interested in hearing from applicants based in the North West of England, and South Wales.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s leading prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting, selling, and championing art by prisoners, secure patients & immigration detainees for over 50 years.

Through our arts mentoring programme, The Koestler Trust identifies and supports prisoners with talent and enthusiasm, helping them to harness their creativity in a way which can make a positive difference to their resettlement.

Mentors work one-to-one with ex-offenders, offering between 7 and 10 mentoring sessions over a 12-month period. We provide full training and support, but the role is largely an autonomous one and we are looking for mentors who can bring their own energy and expertise to the role.

Applications from ex-offenders are positively encouraged.

We accept applications for this role on a rolling basis.


> Mentoring – Frequently Asked Questions

> Mentoring – Person Specification

> Mentoring – Project Information

Complete and return:

> Koestler Mentor Application Form


Volunteer Art, Literature and Music Critics

Our Arts Team is looking for several Volunteer Arts Critics to help us write feedback for the thousands of art, literature and music entries we have received for the 2017 Koestler Awards.

Writing feedback is a hugely important part of what we do as it encourages our entrants to participate and achieve in the arts. We aim to provide feedback for as many of our entrants as possible across all of the 52 artforms covered in the Koestler Awards. These include: poetry, film, graphic design, choral music, needlework, painting, beauty and ceramics.

Writing feedback involves considering entries and writing positive responses to the work, including ideas on how it might be developed. This is a great opportunity to see some of the thousands of artworks submitted to the Koestler Awards and to make a direct impact on our entrants.

‘Prison is very insular and can stifle creative thinking, so any feedback is essential. The outside world creates a link to other ideas, concepts and influence.’ Koestler Entrant 2016

We are currently looking to recruit groups of Volunteer Arts Critics to come to our Feedback Tuesday or Feedback Friday Sessions. These will be held at the Koestler Arts Centre on the following dates:

Tuesday 4th July Friday 7th July
Tuesday 11th July
Tuesday 25th July Friday 28th July
Tuesday 1st August Friday 4th August
Tuesday 8th August Friday 11th August
Tuesday 15th August Friday 18th August
Tuesday 22nd August Friday 25th August
Tuesday 29th August

(Please note there are no feedback sessions between 12th and 24th July)

Skills and experience needed
• Knowledge in one or several of the artforms represented in the Trust’s work – an interest in the work will keep things lively for you.
• Commitment to the guidelines set out in the Koestler Trust’s health & safety, confidentiality and equal opportunities policies. Each volunteer will need to sign our confidentiality agreement.
• Support for the aims of the Koestler Trust.

If you are interested in volunteering on any of the dates above, please send an email with your availability and a brief outline of your interest in the role to