Meee & Chrysallis @ HMP Oakwood
Sid recently visited HMP Oakwood to take part in the first day of their 6-week Chrysalis Programme. The course aims to help its attendees to think more positively, create self-esteem and above all stimulate new ways of thinking, and instill a sense of social capability.
There, a group of 22 men ages ranging from mid-20s and 65+ were able to talk openly and frankly about their life experiences, their time in prison and about their plans to change. The programme explored “Know thy self” which is a module around self-perception, placing a great deal of emphasis on why we think the way we do and how we see our own reflection. This module, Sid observed combines a lot of the essential techniques that make us more aware of who we are as individuals but also included work linked to our behavior and why we perhaps act the way we do.
Having spent the day with the attendees, Sid noted that many participants stated that they had poor parental guidance, an absent caregiver and very turbulent childhood. As a group everyone also discussed their time in school and how they found it a particularly difficult point in their lives. Most of the inmates at Oakwood had been excluded from school at some point in their lives but now wished they could go back and re-do their time in education.
Research from Gov.uk has acknowledged that children in England, Scotland, and Wales with several adverse childhood experiences were 20x more likely to go to prison at some point in their life. Our work across schools, businesses, job centers, and prisons is aimed at raising societal awareness and encouraging individuals to feel confident enough in themselves to make their own life choices. As Sid states:
“Life does get tough but we can help ourselves make better decision and choices."
As part of the fantastic Lottery funded Chrysalis Programme, Meee is looking to do some collaborative work to bring some of our brilliant results from HMP Berwyn to Oakwood. Whilst working in Europe’s second largest prison, 100% of Meee Programme participants found the course to be a positive experience and left feeling differently about their future compared to before the programme.
Steven, a 40-year-old man who has spent the last 20 years in Prison left a permanent mark on Sid. Steven describes his early years as being ‘a disconnected young man, who didn’t know himself’. Having spent the majority of his life behind bars, Steven had a lot of time to think and reflect on the decisions he has made and wants to continue along his path of self-discovery, paying a great deal of attention to his learning and self-improvement. Steven said:
“My heart goes out to the victims of my crimes and the only thing I can do is to change and try to use the impact of what I have seen, learnt and experienced to influence others in the most positive way, allowing them to see the benefits of being accountable and taking responsibility for their decision making and preparing for the future’.”
In a society where 75% of offenders will go on to re-offend within two years, programmes like ours and Chrysalis want to inspire, engage and motivate its participants to make suitable and long-lasting change in their lives.
Sid said that: “This is why programmes like Chrysalis and Meee exist. We need to help people of all ages make better decisions and choices that will not condemn their thinking and their lives.”
We look forward to exploring opportunities to work with David Apparicio MBE and the Chrysalis Programme.
Martin Luther King Jr.