Years later, when my MA tutor encouraged us to write about our lived experiences, I knew I needed to write about having parents in prison. I sat on the idea for a long time. Nah I’ll do it later. It only resurfaced again during the first lockdown last year. Despite working five days a week at a supermarket, I had more time on my hands and thought, fuck it why not? And that’s how Thyme Café came about.
In May 2020, I successfully secured my first arts funding, a Leeds Inspired small Grant (Leeds Council), a Live Theatre Bursary and a Bradford Producing Hub Make Work Grant. As part of the BPH Make Work Grant, I had the opportunity to carry out the initial research for Thyme Café.
I naively assumed that my experiences were unique, but the statistics shocked me to the core: an estimated 310,000 children every year have a parent in prison in England and Wales. I knew there were some kids as I often saw them on visits, but I never realised the scale of the problem. I became plagued with so many questions:
Why was this not being spoken about more?
If that’s the figure right now, how many people have lived experiences of parents in prison?
Why have I never met anyone with similar experiences to me?
Where are these young people? And more importantly, are they ok?
The research created a whole new level of motivation for writing and developing a play that explored these experiences. My lived experience might not be unique as I initially thought, but it’s a story that needs to be written.
I hope Thyme Café creates a conversation, and I hope to give a voice to young people who are often forgotten.
In this series of blogs I will share my research including interviews, the R&D phases of Thyme Café, my experiences and everything in between.
I hope you stick around. I have another blog coming up soon.