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November 28, 2018

Board Games Behind Bars

Hey, fellow board game people... can you help?

Something that caught our eye the other day: a new initiative to set up regular board game groups in Britain’s prisons.

We’re always banging on about the very positive effects games have; how they help people communicate and be sociable, etc. So this seemed to be something very worthwhile to investigate further. We asked Tom Ana, the scheme’s co-ordinator, what it was all about.

“Board games aren't just fun, but they can be one of the best ways to allow people to interact, in a structured and productive way,” he told us. “They add a lot to people's lives, and we're hoping not just to provide much-needed leisure support, but to foster positive changes through the hobby also.”

We couldn’t agree more. But we’ve all seen recent news reports from inside prisons that are both disturbing and depressing – our natural follow-up question was along the lines of: “Can games really make a difference?” And Tom’s convinced that they can.

“Leisure opportunities can be quite scarce in some prisons,” he pointed out. “Beyond books, sports and communal things like TV and films, most prisoners don't have a lot of access to engaging pastimes and hobbies, particularly not social things like board games. Not everyone in prison has access to training programmes or evening classes, and so they leave without much personal growth or skill-building. Although board games obviously aren't a replacement for important skills, they can help teach and foster very positive aspects of behaviour. There's a need and a desire for games that bring people together, and not enough access inside prisons.”

Tom’s hoping to increase his stock of games to distribute to the network of volunteers. Our industry’s always put back into the community – we wondered if any fellow-manufacturers might like to join us in supporting something a little different - perhaps our games might play some small part in helping somebody back on to the right path?

If so drop him an email on boardsbehindbars@gmail.com or find him on Twitter at @prisontabletop – and we’ll do a follow-up of this post in a few months to see how it went with ‘Articulate’…


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