February 2011 – Chris Neal and I led the first GB JOB CLUBS Introduction to Job Clubs session in HMP Guys Marsh; a Category C, resettlement prison.
Following initial suspicion and hostility from the men, we were encouraged that the atmosphere became positive and constructive (see February 2011 report, GB Job Clubs Directors in Prison ).
Six months on, GB JOB CLUBS Introduction to Job Clubs runs every week in both Guys Marsh and HMP Dorchester, a secure Category B establishment.
There may be more bars and stronger doors – but scratch the surface and you’ll find that these heavily scarred, often aggressive men respond to interest and attention like the rest of us.
Introduction to Job Clubs is a structured series of interactive exercises, based on Job Club-style discussion. We don’t promise anything – we just guide the conversation.
It’s simple, non-bureaucratic and, as with Job Clubs, we’re seeing results.
The men become a supportive group as they learn to respect each other’s achievements & aspirations.
Maybe asking for help isn’t weakness; but on the contrary, a sign of real strength.
Perhaps they’re not the only people in the world with problems and life needn’t be an endless treadmill of crime and punishment.
So possibly they’re not the total failures they thought they were.
Most importantly, they begin to focus on what they have to give; rather than what they can get.
So many forgotten or hidden success stories have come to light.
Men who boxed for Great Britain, composed raps, won European cycling championships, published articles in national magazines, trialed for West Ham, created allotments, raced stock cars, passed degrees, played in brass bands for Royalty.
And of course, we meet men who are “clean”. Free of drugs. Whether it’s been two weeks or ten years – there’s always spontaneous applause.
Examples of comments from our course participants, answering the question “what I have learned“:
“How to listen to people and work with other people in a group”
“How to aim for what I want and if I get stuck there’s someone for me to call”
“to be open and honest – it’s great to talk about my skills”
An ex-offender, recently released from Guys Marsh, keeps in regular contact with us.
He now has somewhere to live, is doing voluntary work and has a job lined up when his driver’s license arrives. A great example of support agencies working together. His dream is to work on oil rigs and he’s on his way!
we’re currently working on a scheme to improve employment prospects for ex-offenders. Launching 1st October – more news shortly.
For more information or to donate to this work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org