Beyond Prison: updates and airwaves

The Beyond Prison project reflects Certitude’s belief that everyone has the right to a good life. This includes people who have served a prison sentence, who wish to integrate back into society and become a valued member of their community.

One aspect of Beyond Prison is its Peer Mentoring course, currently adopted by both HMP Pentonville and HMP Brixton, which provides various sessions such as:

– mental health wellbeing and recovery

– managing and exploring challenging situations

– appreciating difference and diversity

Our reception so far

With 25 and 19 men signed up in HMP Brixton and HMP Pentonville respectively, we have had an excellent reception up to this point and interest continues to grow within both prisons. A total of 15 Mentors have been created, 6 are actively mentoring others in custody and 25 more are on the waiting list!

Prison noticeboards have been plastered with our promotional material while Idris, Beyond Prison’s Team Leader, has worked tirelessly to increase recognition of the project’s various benefits for both inmates and the prison alike. As a result, we have been recognised as an organisation for inmate healthcare referral.

Kirat, one of Beyond Prison’s Outreach workers, recently delivered her first session on ‘mental health wellbeing and recovery’ which, seemingly, went very well:

“My first session was electrifying. I really enjoyed the engaged attitudes and curiosity of the inmates, and the debates they presented were just magical and incredibly stimulating.”

Idris on the airwaves

Idris took to the National Prison Radio airwaves last month with Luke (name changed to protect anonymity), who spoke brilliantly, with poise, grace and confidence, about his personal journey and the genuine impact Peer Mentoring had played in facilitating his rehabilitation.

Having spent a third of his life in the criminal justice system, the birth of Luke’s son became a major turning point and, since then, his life trajectory has changed significantly. This began with him becoming a Peer Mentor and, through the relationships he built with other inmates on the course, Luke was able to channel advice and support skills as a positive role model at HMP Brixton.

It was an incredibly moving discussion for everyone at the studio, with multiple listeners messaging in and feeling energised by his thought-provoking words.

At one session recently, special guest Bola Owoade, the Learning and Development Advisor at Certitude, was also welcomed. Here’s what he had to say:

“I was a bit apprehensive before the session, as I had never been into a prison before, but these proved to be unnecessary concerns. The guys were enthusiastic, willing to learn, and incredibly engaged, producing a number of rather passionate debates. It was clear that Beyond Prison had done a fantastic job at promoting their interest in Peer Mentoring, and I thoroughly look forward to taking part again in the future!”

What’s next?

Sandy, another of Beyond Prison’s Outreach workers, can see a bright future ahead for the project:

“My relationship with the inmates continues to progress; they always treat me with respect and want to learn. We all enjoy the atmosphere of the sessions, and they consistently remain positive about helping “others like them” once they finish the course.”

Beyond Prison will continue to develop and evolve this dynamic programme within both prisons, providing an increasing number of inmates with coaching and mentoring opportunities as well as real, sustainable stability upon their release.