Spark Inside is innovatively tackling high rates of prison violence and reoffending through its The Conversation programme, which brings together prisoners and prison staff to improve empathy and understanding, benefiting relationships and wing culture, and lowering violence and reoffending.
It ran from 12:00 PM, 3 December 2019 to 12:00 PM, 10 December 2019
Registered Charity in England and Wales (1148420)
It was nice to see the prisoners out of a wing setting. I think prisoners realise that we listen to them a bit more. Violence has gone down recently. I think all the wings should do it. You get a better look at yourself, staff-wise, you see prisoners aren’t all that bad.
After The Conversation, two of the officers who sat at the back of the room were talking to two of the prisoners who were also there. I pointed it out to my colleague and said: you wouldn’t have had that before the workshop. It was nice to have people looking at things from a different perspective.
We got the experience of having a roleplay and seeing what he has to say. It helps people have a better understanding of each other and their position in prison, whether you are an inmate or staff. It’s given me a greater insight of what the officers are going through, it is a really stressful job.
UK prisons are overcrowded and the prison population is growing, heightening tensions between prison staff and prisoners which are detrimental to both. Violence, assaults and self-harm are at record highs in our prisons (MoJ, 2018). Prison officers are short-staffed with high demands; they are facing burnout and increasing levels of stress and mental health conditions (POA, 2015). Without a more rehabilitative prison culture, rates of reoffending and violence will further worsen.
The Conversation focuses on creating systemic change in prison by promoting positive interactions between prisoners and prison staff. It contributes towards improving empathy and understanding, benefiting relationships and wing culture, leading to more positive prisoner behaviour and greater likelihood of rehabilitation. It is formed of three 2.5 hour workshops across 9 weeks followed by post-engagement surveys with attending prisoners and staff, facilitated by our Service Delivery Managers.
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