“A gift to the world” – Introducing RiseUp CIC

 In LAB Blog

How do you convince the most demoralised prisoners to put a life of crime behind them and strive for a new start when they leave prison?
It’s a boundless question but Ash and Stuart, the duo behind RiseUp CIC, may well have the answer.

I managed to corner them at LAB for a chat about what they’ve been working on and their experiences of developing such a progressive and powerful organisation. I say I ‘cornered’ them because Stuart (known by ‘Cod’ to everyone) and Ash are rarely sat at their desks; their work happens far beyond the office walls, engaging with prisoners, school children and those who are long-term unemployed.

“We don’t teach people to change; we inspire people to believe that they can and will change,” explains Cod, the Business Director.

Ash and Cod at LAB

They do this by enabling people on the programme to reach a deeper level of self-understanding, tackle their issues and achieve better mental and physical wellbeing, whether that is solely through RiseUp or combined with professional medical help. The long-term goal is to build themselves a foundation for a better standard of living, free of crime, upon being released from prison.


The organisation uses poetry, dance, drama and art to inspire positive change and personal development amongst individuals who would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. In developing the programme, RiseUp took inspiration from their personal stories of challenge and change, as well as established techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). These proven models help those on the RiseUp programme to develop a variety of life skills such as emotional control, self-presentation, self-confidence and identification of their sense of self-purpose.

The workshops run for twelve sessions for around twelve people, but over-subscription is very common. Ash and Stuart see the people transform from demotivated, uninspired and detached individuals to creative, enthusiastic and ready to make positive changes in their life.

Recent commission: Home Office

As well as working with offenders, RiseUp have been granted £30,000 by the Home Office’s Knife Crime Community Fund to deliver knife crime workshops alongside Social Sense CIC in three Liverpool schools.

The ‘RUDifferent?’ project will ensure that around 3,000 year nine pupils (thirteen-fourteen years old) in high-risk areas are educated and empowered to make better decisions about carrying a knife and being involved in knife gang activity. As part of the project, the schoolchildren will work in groups to design a knife crime prevention campaign, following which RiseUp will choose one winner from each school to be published professionally by Social Sense.




Another scheme that RiseUp has in the pipeline involves Ash’s memoir, Locks. Locks will include narratives from Ash’s personal experience of prison in Jamaica, as well as exploring issues of identity, racial identity and the precursors of criminal activity. With funding from the Live Theatre, sections of Locks will be performed visually for prisoners.

RiseUp will give out free copies of Locks in prisons to develop literacy skills and inspire prisoners to see themselves as the potential hero of their own story of change and growth.

Success through originality

RiseUp credit their impressive track record to their original approach to tackling some of the most difficult challenges we face in creating an inclusive and opportunity-rich society. They engage with individuals who are often neglected by society – the reasons for which would require a whole other blog post – but who simply need support in reconnecting with their passions and motivations for progress. Cod and Ash told me how, despite RiseUp being in its third year, they are continually surprised by the power of the programme.

They also reiterated that without the LAB workspace, they would not be in the position they are today. Not only is it a permanent office address, but it has helped them convince potential clients, such as The Job Centre, to take them seriously when they were still in the early stages of development. They also commented how many visitors enjoy LAB’s unique environment when they come here for meetings.

We’re really excited to see what the next few months hold for RiseUp. They have just been commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and are launching a new website soon at riseupcic.co.uk. Follow their Twitter page @RiseUpCiC and find Ash at @nugentashleigh and Stuart at @CodoBod.

Finally, if you think your business could benefit from the LAB by Capacity package as RiseUp has, apply for a FREE trial day at labliverpool.co.uk/free-trial-day or drop us a line at hello@labliverpool.co.uk if you have any further questions.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment