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 55 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

Current opportunities:

> arts team volunteers

> volunteer arts mentors for ex-prisoners


Arts Team Volunteers

Our Arts Team is always on the look-out for enthusiastic and rigorous volunteers to assist with the processing of thousands of entries to the Koestler Awards.

The Trust run annual awards that structure our team’s calendar, meaning that our responsibilities change throughout the year. The Arts Team process entries (beginning in March), facilitate judging, write feedback, curate and install exhibitions, run events and finally return artworks to the entrants (November to March). Volunteers will have an opportunity to experience numerous different roles and activities depending on the period that they spend with us. Our main project at the moment is returning artworks received in the 2018 Awards cycle, alongside a smaller amount of tasks preparing work (at our base in London) for our Kent and Sussex show at Turner Contemporary in 2019.

We need volunteers who can work independently and can follow our procedures to process the entries efficiently and reliably. Volunteers will gain experience in a dynamic team, getting a privileged behind-the-scenes look at the exciting and diverse range of writing, music, fine art and design pieces we receive. They will also gain an insight into the running of a small prestigious arts organisation.

Ideally, volunteers would be able to commit to a period of 3 months, usually 2 – 4 days a week (weekdays). However, volunteers are a highly valued part of our team and we will try to accommodate those with less availability. We will reimburse travel expenses within London.

Skills and experience needed:
• Accuracy – you need to sustain accuracy while logging large volumes of work at a time.
• Physical dexterity – to handle fragile artwork in many shapes and sizes following health and safety procedures.
• Commitment to the Koestler Trust’s policies such as health & safety, confidentiality, and equal opportunities.
• An interest in one or several of the art forms represented in the Trust’s work – an interest in the work will keep things lively for you.
• Support for the aims of the Koestler Trust – we want our volunteers to get as involved as they can in our work and to enjoy promoting participation in the arts by all offenders, secure patients and detainees.

What to do next…

If you are interested in this voluntary role please complete the Volunteer Application Form (.doc) and email or post it with a brief covering letter, outlining your interest in the role and availability as well as your CV to or Matt Anstis, Koestler Trust, 168a Du Cane Rd, London W12 0TX. Please note that we aim to respond to all applications within 4 weeks. We look forward to hearing from you.


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