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.

Read more about us

Jobs & volunteering

Current opportunities:

> feedback volunteers

> volunteer arts mentors for ex-prisoners 


Feedback Volunteers


All through July and August, we are running feedback writing days on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Koestler Arts Centre in West London.

Volunteers are welcome to join us to write personalised feedback for various visual, written and audio entries, including Sculpture, Spoken Word, Painting, Portrait and Craft, which we will send to the entrants to encourage them in their creative journeys. Please let us know which kind of artworks you would be interested in writing about.

Feedback Writing days will take place every Tuesday and Friday in July and August, plus two additional Saturdays on the 10th and 17th August.

If you would like to join us for any dates, please register your interest by sending an email to Phoebe Dunn.


Volunteer Arts Mentors for Ex-Prisoners

We’re looking for artists, creative writers, musicians, and arts industry professionals, to help support our mentoring scheme. We are particularly interested in hearing from applicants based in the North of England and the Midlands.

Koestler Arts is the UK’s leading prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting, selling, and championing art by prisoners, secure patients & immigration detainees for over 50 years.

Through our arts mentoring programme, Koestler Arts identifies and supports prisoners with talent and enthusiasm, helping them to harness their creativity in a way which can make a positive difference to their resettlement.

Mentors work one-to-one with ex-offenders, offering between 7 and 10 mentoring sessions over a 12-month period. We provide full training and support, but the role is largely an autonomous one and we are looking for mentors who can bring their own energy and expertise to the role.

Applications from ex-offenders are positively encouraged.

We accept applications for this role on a rolling basis.

Read: 
> mentoring – frequently asked questions
> mentoring – person specification
> mentoring – project information

Complete and return:
> koestler mentor application form



I love to see people's poems, and connect with their intent and emotion. I also love to really work out what their purpose is and help them get closer to their target by giving really effective feedback - helpful comments are so encouraging for writers.

2019 feedback volunteer

I could see straight away that we shared a genuine love of words and that there was great scope for us to have a very interesting twelve months. I had set a piece of pre-meeting work which I was pleased to see had brought a response. The task was to describe what was interesting about a favourite work of art, we were soon talking about layers, hidden images and strange angles, all good stuff for poets!

Koestler Mentor