A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Haverigg Prison. Haverigg is a rural prison on the northern coastline of Cumbria. During the visit I met with Kainos Community staff who run a rehabilitation programme called Challenge to Change.
I also met with several inmates who were either currently participating on the programme or have successfully completed the programme and have become programme mentors. The prisoners I spoke to mainly came from the surban areas of Manchester and Liverpool. Due to the location of Haverigg I wondered if some of the guys would ever receive visits from their families and loved ones. I asked myself why weren’t they all applying for transfers so that they could be nearer to their home towns or why they were not complaining about the location of the prison? The answer was because they were keen to stay and could see the benefits of completing the Challenge to Change programme. They knew this would give them more chance of ‘staying out’ for good when they were released.
The positive attitude these guys had to their future was encouraging and heart warming. Often prisoners get only negative press about doing nothing in prison and taking all they can from the system. Here was a group of guys some of whom were mentors to their peers who were committed to making positive changes in their lives even if this meant in the short term they would not see their loved ones.
The mentor system for the Challenge to Change programme clearly works well, it is a powerful tool for supporting inmates through the change process. There is nothing like being supported by those who have ‘walked the same road of change’ who know the obstacles and pit falls; who can spot the excuses and challenge them.
My visit reinforced my belief that there are examples of good rehabilitation programmes within our prisons which offer hope and a future. It also underlined to me how committed and dedicated these staff were from Kainos Community, staff who worked tirelessly to change the lives of others. I would like to thank them for their hard work and wish the participants on the programme at Haverigg all the best in making changes to their lives which will mean they will be able to live crime free in the communities they return to.