This Hidden Voices feature of First Time Inside aims to offer those who have experienced or are currently experiencing life within the justice system in Scotland a platform to share their thoughts, stories and personal opinions on their journey to date. The style of writing or presenting those stories, verses or other pieces of work will be unique to each individual.
This feature is, in part, about creating a platform not only for sharing but also aspiration for those challenged by the justice system.
Sharing so called, Lived Experience, comes at an emotional cost to each person who contributes to the Hidden Voices feature and we intend to value their input regardless of style or confidence equally.
Moving forward we will develop a bespoke platform on but for now please respect, enjoy and absorb the messages attached to any material shared through this temporary media.

Hidden Voices supported by

Man on the Moon

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the journey, the most remarkable journey, that First Time Inside has taken me on. From that early moments choice to be vulnerable sharing that first opinionated tweet on social media – to an audience of complete strangers – to sharing a stage at the National Youth

Exit your Malina

Before wandering down the Prehabilitation highway I wanted to take a moment to say how inspiring it is to see organisations, blessed with great resource, such as The Wise Group and Apex Scotland this week challenge the idea that justice should return to it’s previous normal after the covid restrictions leave us. Reading articles from

The Bubbly Poet

Todays blog and poetry is written by one of our Hidden Voices no longer in prison but trying to build a new life back in the community. Take it away Paula. “Ok, I’m Paula, first and foremost my life before taking part in Saughton Sonnets was a nightmare. No one knew but I was disappointed

A Letter from Saughton

Today I’m privileged to share a letter from a Hidden Voices participant which I believe demonstrates why this project is worthwhile. Before hand a little update and a few thoughts on where we are. Over the course of the past couple of weeks I have chosen to attend a number of online events for a

Hope and Aspiration

Todays Hidden Voice belongs to one of our writers from the Hidden Voices initiative known as Saughton Sonnets. What you will read below is in my opinion a tale of hope, a realisation that aspiration is not exclusive to a certain cohort and a window to the thoughts and dreams of a very a talented

Sleigh Cells Ring Part Two

It is an absolute privilege to share the last group of Hidden Voices for 2020 in this Christmas week. Throughout this tough year we have strived to offer a platform for those normally denied such an opportunity to communicate with “us” on the outside of the prison walls and today – as they have on

Sleigh Cells Ring – Part One.

ORIGINALLY SHARED DECEMBER 2020.  Sleigh Cells Ring, are you listening… It is wonderful in the week we managed to publish a Hidden Voices first, namely our  Saughton Sonnets Anthology – First Time Inside, that we are able to bring a festive feast of authenticity from the residents of HMP’s Edinburgh and Low Moss. Prison is a

Are you a Baw Bard?

As we approach the start of two new projects namely Preston Prose which is a collaboration between ourselves and the Lancashire Violence Reduction Network as well as Baw Bards – the true inspiration for todays blog – which is a collaboration between First Time Inside/Hidden Voices and four Scottish prisons, it seemed a good moment

The Boys from the Bar-L (3)

  “My dad was feeling the same pain thirty-five years ago as these boys feel today” I understood my personal motivation for creating the concept of Hidden Voices but when I asked Natalie what her motivation was for doing her work her response, as above, quite literally stopped me in my tracks and I instantly

The Boys from the Bar-L (2)

Hidden Voices was created as part of the First Time Inside website to create a platform where amongst many others those incarcerated, currently or in the past, could share their experience with a wider audience. A platform which simply allows forgotten or discounted voices to be heard. With this in mind it is a great

The Boys from the Bar-L

Hidden Voices was created as part of the First Time Inside website to create a platform where amongst many others those incarcerated, currently or in the past, could share their experience with a wider audience. A platform which simply allows forgotten or discounted voices to be heard. With this in mind it is a great

Family Visits

Today we share the short unedited, tough reflection of a woman who spent time visiting a young relative in HMYOI Polmont, fairly recently, and her experience of both visiting and engaging with the institution. “As you walk towards the entrance of Polmont Young Offenders Institution near Falkirk, you cannot fail to miss the words in

Callums Story

In Callum’s own words – see below –  he shares part of his story which highlights where there is life there is hope. I hope to get the chance to answer some of the many questions you’ll no doubt have after reading this short account through a conversation with Callum in the near future. “People

CJSW I forgive you

This hidden voice talks of one persons experience of meeting Criminal Justice Social Work in 2018. “For a few months I’ve been writing about feelings and events in here but for now I’m adding a new feature to my scribbles, I’ve decided to reflect on the individual elements of my experience of the justice system

Soundtrack of Sadness

Writing and poetry can be such a release for those incarcerated in our prisons as the verses below illustrate, by Peter F13 in 2018     The soundtrack of sadness vibrates in my head No escape is secure not even in bed Nightmares of failure explode in my brain Will there ever be happiness again

Garys Story

At the time of my first conviction I was 17 years old, I felt really scared and nervous and wasnt optimistic about what lay ahead going in to a prison environment. I was sentenced to fifteen months and served half of that, in a young offenders institution at (polmont) It was actually at that point

Happy Days in HMP Hotel & Spa

This is going to be a challenge but as it is the end of a positive week for First Time Inside I thought I’d share some of the more positive elements of an experience inside one of Her Majesty’s quaint little guest houses, perhaps in a slightly irreverent manner. Anyway here goes nothing. Friday has

Chaos or Tranquility?

We have included another extract from a First Time Prisoners diary today and we feel the content speaks for itself really. Prison can be a lonely, intimidating place with strength of will being your only friend. This extract was written approximately three months after being sent to prison for the first time. Operating on the

Isolation is a lottery win

There are days in Prison when circumstances command a change in routine. Today, in the short excerpt from a prisoners diary, we see the surprising relief , even pleasure, taken in being locked up alone when those days occur. “There was staff training today and we were all confined to our cells alone for the

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