Published by Sam Ruddock on

‘There have been many amazing projects to help people during the pandemic and
Paperchains is one of the very best.’

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
Stories of lockdown from people with experience of prison, homelessness, addiction, and families of people in the armed forces. Touring prisons, and community spaces in Spring 2022.

Here’s a sneak preview of one of the parts of the film, a brand new animation of one of the entries featuring voice-over from Stephen Fry.

Written by Ryan at HMP Hollesley
Prime Minister – Stephen Fry
Journalist John – Elliott Campion
Justice Secretary – Corey Weekes
Prison Spokesperson – Alan Birch
Prisoner – Alan Smith

Produced by Story Machine
Directed by Jon Dunleavy
Animation by Jon Dunleavy and Keith Wilson-Singer
Additional Design by Callie Campbell
Sound design and music by Phil Archer

Paperchains was created by Penned-Up co-founder David Kendall and writer and prison librarian Alan Smith. They wanted to ensure that the history of the Covid-19 lockdowns includes voices that can so often be marginalised – those with experience of prison, of homelessness, of addiction.

Paperchains received entries from across the UK. In words and visual art they share the experiences of prisoners spending 23 hours each day locked in a cell, inhaling and exhaling, over and over again, the same recycled air. For months on end. With no visitors. They tell of addicts who were just starting to recover and rebuild, only to find themselves back on the precipice. They tell of the person down your street whose house was never really a home.

These are voices from inside the storm. From people whose stories are rarely heard. Powerful, often irreverent, heartfelt: experiences that history should not forget.

Sam Ruddock, Director of Story Machine says:

The Covid-19 lockdowns have been significant for all of us. But while some of us have support to fall back on, others had a very different experience. Reading the entries for Paperchains was an eye-opening and emotional process of stepping into other shoes. I can’t wait to bring these experiences to life and to work with outsider artists to share our show with people. I want to say a huge thank you to Arts Council England for believing in our vision. And to Alan, David, and Nell Leyshon for their support and enthusiasm. We can’t wait to share more information with you.

Paperchains has featured in The Big Issue, The Bookseller, and Inside Time.