Innovative UK skills programme gains European support

  • Small West Midlands-based company, Rideout, announce major business success.
  • Talent4 programme adopted by Romanian Prison Service.

An innovative employment programme created by West Midlands company Rideout is due to be officially adopted by the Romanian Prison Service.

After several years of development and trials in six European Countries, the Director General of the Romanian Prison Service has enthusiastically endorsed the programme for use in all Romanian prisons. Talent 4… was devised originally for UK prisoners seeking a new vocation away from crime. It takes place over three days using games, puzzles, films and discussion, helping participants understand their acquired skills and talents. After an intensive trial of the programme in the Poarta Alba prison in Constanta, the Romanian Prison Service plans to extend use of the programme across all the country’s 34 prisons. This is a significant achievement for a small operation based in Stoke-on-Trent.

Evaluation of the programme has recently been conducted by Dr. Laura Caulfield and Dr Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus of Bath Spa University. The research is to be delivered at the forthcoming Talent4 conference, Where Does Talent Come From…?, on 23 July 2014 at Hyatt Regency, Birmingham. This will reveal a significant increase in the aspirations and confidence of participants across the programme, as well as a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses around work and employment.

The diagnostic approach of the programme proceeds from the premise that often learners are unaware of what they do well. They imagine that skills and talents are all about qualifications or work experience, but Rideout argue that skills and talents are accrued during a process of growing up, whether that individual is in work or out of work, whether that individual has spent time in education or has never been to school.

Chris Johnston, co-director, Rideout said of the Romanian news: “This is really excellent news and we are very grateful to our Romanian partner Association for an Active Future for working hard on the adaptations to make this possible. The next step is to support Active Future in the dissemination of training for relevant staff in each of the prisons.”

Catalin Claudiu Bejan, Director General of the Romanian National Administration of Penitentiaries, said: “The Romanian Administration of Penitentiaries encourages, through its specialised department, initiatives of community partners to involve themselves in rehabilitation activities for persons in custody, according to their psychosocial and educative assistance needs, the final goal being to facilitate social reinsertion after liberation.

“Talent 4 is a self-knowledge and professional-orientated programme, which was initiated by Association for an Active Future and implemented by Poarta Alba Prison. It addresses to all categories of prisoners and was approved by Social Reintegration Department in order to be experimentally applied at the level of this prison unit.

“The interactive work methods, based on game and practical activities, grants this recuperative intervention an increased degree of attraction, as participants take a special interest in program’s activities.

“Being highly appreciated the informative content of Talent 4 Programme as well as the work methodology applied, the Social Reintegration Department intends to propose the extension of its implementation at the level of the entire prison system.”



The Romanian prison service consists of over 40 institutions and 32,000 prisoners. Association for An Active Future is a Romanian non-governmental organisation who were established to develop approaches to help reduce re-offending and support prisoners upon release. They are one of eight partners involved in Talent 4 Europe, a Leonardo Transfer of Innovation project of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. Other partners are Malta, Spain, Italy, Lithuania and Bulgaria.


Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) was established in 1999 in order to develop innovative, arts-based approaches to working with prisoners and staff within UK prisons.

It is Rideout’s assertion that crime is not always an inevitable consequence of personal difficulties. Nor is it validated as a career option. Other strategies are always available. To access and understand these interventionist strategies however, often requires the offender to use imagination and to envision alternative behaviours. The creative and performing arts have a particular appropriateness therefore in offering a language within which these arguments and speculations can take place

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Created by Rideout, Talent 4… is an innovative programme that uses play and creativity to identify the natural skills and talents of the participants.

Originally developed within the context of the UK criminal justice system, the programme has recently been transferred to partners in Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, and Spain. This is made possible by a grant from the Leonardo Transfer of Innovation fund which is part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.

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Research was conducted by Dr Laura Caulfield and Dr Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus of the School of Society, Enterprise & Environment at Bath Spa University. The research included data on 234 participants across six countries (Malta, Romania, Spain, Italy, Lithuania and Bulgaria).

-Psychological measures of aspirations and competence were conducted to assess the impact of Talent 4.. Participants also provided information what they had learned from taking part in the project.

-The quantitative analysis highlighted a statistically significant increase in participants’ aspirations over the course of the project.

-The quantitative analysis highlighted an increase in participants’ perceived confidence over the course of the project, although this did not reach statistical significance.

-Participants gained a developed understanding of their strengths and weaknesses around work and employment.

-Participants gained an increased confidence in methodological problem solving.


A one-day conference event presented by Rideout, Where Does Talent Come From …? explores the question ‘what is talent?’ Guest speakers, include author, academic and journalist Germaine Greer, economist and author Tim Harford and Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology University of London.

Wednesday 23 July 2014
Where Does Talent Come From … and How Do You Nurture It?
Venue: Hyatt Regency, 2 Bridge Street, Birmingham B1 2JZ
Times: 9.30am-4.30pm
Tickets: £160 (inc lunch).
Online Bookings:
Contact: or 01782 325555
Join the debate online using the Twitter and Facebook hashtag: #T4Conf

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