Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

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  • Become a Koestler Mentor

Become a Koestler Mentor

Koestler Mentors volunteer to support one or more mentees who have been involved in the criminal justice system and who have an interest in the arts.

We give our mentors full training and support, but it is our mentors’ energy, arts expertise and organisational skills that are vital to the success of the mentoring programmes. Mentors meet with their Koestler Mentee to identify what they would like to achieve in the arts and then have up to 10 one-to-one mentoring sessions to carry out arts-based activities such as reviewing your mentees’ work or attending exhibitions/events together.

What will I gain from becoming a Koestler Mentor?

  • You’ll be doing something meaningful, enjoyable, constructive and challenging
  • You’ll develop coaching and counselling skills that are transferable to your personal and professional life
  • Mentoring can revitalise your own practice
  • Mentoring can be rewarding as the person you mentor develops and progresses
  • Mentors will be automatically invited to Koestler events such as exhibition and sale previews, workshops and seminars
  • Koestler Arts will provide you with a reference detailing the work you’ve undertaken as a mentor
  • We have mentees looking for a mentor in a wide range of Koestler artforms across England and Wales including writing, fine and applied arts, design, film and music

To apply

We especially welcome applications from mentors working in writing, and from artists based in the North of England and the Midlands.


Complete and return:


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The training has been really inspirational and I’m really excited about becoming a mentor. It was well organised, with clear goals and expectations, a standard of mutual respect and space for everyone to contribute

Former Mentor