What we do now
The Centre for Peaceful Solutions trains prisoners to be facilitators and mediators supporting prisoners who struggle with mental health, addictions, violence, self harm and family problems. Our work gives prisoners a better understanding of what real change means and supports them through that change process. Once they leave prison we try to maintain contact for those who would like it but we only have limited resources to help and, some of our trained men have expressed an interest in continuing this work on the outside.
Former Governor at Dartmoor Prison;
" This is a precious force for good, able to assist the setting of a direction where the resolution of conflict is a basic human right. The hope of redemption grows the lived-experience voice is heard, distress is equally managed by staff and prisoners, a broken, and often toxic, environment is challenged to stop hurting others. This work requires belief in the essential good in all of us "
Prisoner at the start of a Life Sentence;
" If I'd known this 6 months ago, I wouldn't of murdered my wife "
What we can do with your support
With your support we can develop our project called Life After Prison to offer the much needed support at a crucial time that will contribute to a safer society for everyone.
With your support we can;
- Reduce re-offending
- Create stable, self responsible accountable individuals able to find their place in society
- Restore more family ties
- Create a sense of togetherness, reducing harm
- Help participants learn to notice the early warning signs of re-offending much earlier to seek support
Life After Prison is an online space where people leaving prison with little or no assistance can receive emotional support from a trained Dialogue Road Map Facilitator who has been in prison and understands the change and recovery process. An online space provides fellowship by way of regular moderated meetings for those who have left prison and are struggling to re-enter society. Meetings are moderated and supervised by professionals and who are there to provide a sense of family.
What this cause will provide
A free, accessible space for emotional support and fellowship after release. Each member will have the opportunity to write a life plan, with short, medium and long term goals and given the following support according to their needs;
- One to one listening sessions to rebuild their self confidence
- One to one mentoring sessions to track progress
- Family Mediation where relationships have broken down
- Restorative justice if appropriate
- The self reflection pack - an intensive facilitated journey of self awareness and healing
- Advocacy to help communication with potential employers, probation officers, job centre workers
- Networking to expand their contacts
Understanding the scope of the problem
For many ex-prisoners their route to release is via an open prison or a licensed premises giving them time to adapt to life outside prison. Even so, there are still many who are released straight onto the streets from Category C prisons. For example, at Dartmoor Prison, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) found pre-release preparations for high-risk prisoners "was often unplanned, rushed and poor" with hundreds of prisoners being released without the necessary support to reduce the risk of re-offending. In an informal conversation with a resettlement officer in London he stated that many prisoners, on the day of release say “See you tonight, guvnor” meaning that they will break the terms of their license in order to be brought back to prison because they have no support. While mercy and forgiveness are often in short supply for those who have broken the law and harmed others, there is still a necessity to reduce the risk of re-offending during re-entry into society.
47% of adults are reconvicted within one year of being released and this rises to 60% of offenders serving sentences of less than 12 months.
For children and young people in custody the rate of reoffending rises to 75%. Reoffending by ex-prisoners costs society at least £11bn per year.
Even with good family support, the trauma of prison and the horror of continuous 23-hour lockdowns during Covid have had a detrimental effect on the mental health of people re-entering society.
For example, Dave (name changed) was released without any place to go. After a relative paid for one night at a hotel, he was left on his own, unable to access his £46 discharge grant, with no alternative but to stay with friends at the town of his crime or face sleeping on the streets.
What differentiates this project
Dialogue Road Map Facilitators* were prisoners themselves and offered this support in prison to people struggling with addictions, mental health issues, debt, self-harm, violence, and family breakdown.
We are holding people’s hearts. Other services offer amazing practical help like housing and employment opportunities, we address the trauma and stress that leads to conflict and violence and which prevents long-term sustainable recovery and can undo practical support.
Placing importance on sustainability through interdependence. While individual wellbeing, creativity and betterment is important and tended to, it is contextualised as part of community.
Focusing on a deep understanding of relationships, communication, self-governance and accountability.
This model aims to prove that by investing in healthy dialogue, a resilient and solid foundation is in place to weather the storms of life.
Making your donation go further
Our charity has been sustaining itself through our small chain of charity shops. For every pound you donate the shops will match fund for this project. We want to get this project off the ground sooner rather than later but in order to sustain the long term we are planning to open two more shops in the coming 12 months. It will take approximately 18 - 24 months for the extra income from the shops to cover the costs of the project.
A word from our Founder - Maria Arpa MBE
Hello, Thank you for reading this far.
I have been going into prisons since 2009. It wasn’t something I had previously thought of but a friend asked me if I would take my work into a prison near to her and I agreed. If you’ve never had any contact in this world, I’d like to give you some food for thought. People end up in prison for all sorts of reasons, mostly because they broke the law in some way. While I agree that it is important for some people to be removed from society, what we do with those people and their families is crucial to safety in society. Using a compassionate approach, we help people take a good hard long look at their life and how they want to proceed. In this process they meet themselves, the good, the bad and the ugly. They connect to the harm they have created for themselves, their victims and their loved ones. It’s very difficult to go through this process without a safe space. So while a punitive approach seems, on the surface, to be the best course of action, people can’t change while under threat because all their energy is taken up with survival and defence. When we look at what is happening across the pond with mass shootings, and friends I know afraid to send their children to state run schools because of the dangers, it’s even more vital that we stop this trend reaching the UK. While I can’t profess to have all the answers, I know we have a piece of the solution. That’s why I am reaching out for help to build a model that can be replicated. It takes time and money to prove this model and I can’t do it on my own.
Your help is a blessing.