NGB started in July 2020 in the heart of Covid and over a period of 2 years people in and out of prison experienced the ever-changing impact. As everyone tentatively emerged, the prisoners, who had barely left their cells had an additional impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Our work now includes exploring ways to support people through the challenges.
The Prison Reform Trust ‘Project CAPPTIVE’ reported nearly all rehabilitative work almost completely stopped, and prisoners had limited access to the library, workshops and exercise. Clinks research across justice system third sector has shown that as result mental health has taken its toll. Despite the loosening of regulations in the community, prisons only just emerged from a 2-year lockdown in Spring 2022.
Groups who had the highest risk of mental ill-health before COVID, including those living with pre-existing conditions, seem to have been worst affected (and this includes those with experience of the justice system).
Our response to this was multi faceted and started with City and Guilds funded neurodiversity training provided by Do It who are specialists in this area. We then wanted to ensure that we got a better understanding of individuals to find out where they were on their journey which led to developing modules and assessment tools to explore and then respond to the challenges experienced.
Kangaroo; Our immediate response was to find ways to assess people and see where they were on their journey in terms of nearing employment but also to explore transferable skills and overcoming loneliness (a current specific problem). Being partnered and supported by City and Guilds we were able to create a 3 hour session that is digitally badged so provides evidence for the individuals. This also provides them with access to a number of holistic modules and courses that they can choose from that have been developed with our partners as follows:
Nutrition – Food Behind Bars are enabling the participants to join sessions (in and out of prison) on cooking and home economy and advising on health, wellness and nutrition.
Goldsmiths Neuropsychology Team explore challenges that individuals have that may have been caused by head injury at some stage in their lives, giving us a chance to address them and improve the weaknesses
Money Management: particularly at a time when individuals are battling with the current economic challenges, this has been requested frequently and we are using a course developed for us by the FCA specifically to respond to the need
Self Employment: Before referring people on to more detailed courses we run an introduction to self-employment which suits a number of the individuals who have left prison.
The overall purpose is to work with individuals to support their progression into whatever the next stage of their lives might be, and if it is not skills training and employment, then to make sure they are referred to other partner organisations in the sector that can help.