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By Andy Mouncey, Nov 13 2019 05:10PM

Breaking In


So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.


This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC www.runforyourlife.org.uk


Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception. Doors open–doors close-funding bids/rejected

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

2018 Doors open–close/bids etc: Getting boring now. Still no ££

2019: Too far in to give up – so it’s this year or bust!


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 27

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2

Times My Wife Has Really Meant It: 1



This piece was going to be called ‘Sucking Vacuum’ – ‘cos that’s what it’s been like:

Nothing.

Niet.

Nada.

The last few months were summed up in the first few minutes of a recent prison visit.

Here’s the thing about visiting a prison: You can’t just rock up – you make an arrangement which means you are expected. You provide information – often more than once. And if it’s also not your first time you also know what to expect:

Do bring a photo ID.

Do expect to shout through the security screen.

Don’t bring any electronics – or anything else on The Big List Of Dont’s

Do bring a supply of patience.

Do set your Customer Relationship Manager/Front Of House expectations on low.


Now I’ve been kept waiting in prison reception on many occasions for the simple reason that in prison Shit Happens. What that means is any arrangements you make are subject to Shit Not Happening because when Shit Does Happen the ripple effect is usually quite large which means more people are affected which means one of them is likely to be the person you are here to see.


This time Shit Does Indeed Happen and 45 minutes after my allotted time I’m finally met. In that time my two attempts to get information from the Gatehouse team – whose numbers swell to 5-6 of people who appear to be standing round chatting and looking anywhere but the growing crowd of us in reception – are met with bemused indifference that translates to ‘Welcome to our world Mr Community – this is just how we roll...’

So there’s me holding my…while inhaling Information Vacuum with an extra ‘u’ thinking this just about sums up my last few months.


And Justice wonders why prisons struggle to engage with people from their local communities (sigh).


So that’s the stuff I was going to write about – along with the rejected bids, busted deadlines, blown commitments and the general system paralysis that comes with Parliament suspended, political musical chairs, elections and (frightening) partisan policy announcements that have been rubbished countless times by evidence but play beautifully to the zealots in the galleries.


It’s just that writing about shit makes me feel shit – ‘one of the reasons I’m not into counseling – so I’ve held off despite periodic prompts from Authentic Living My Brand Bloke to ‘Write it as it is, man!’

There’s such a thing as ‘over-sharing’ in my book…


Of course there have been moments of light that have warmed my soul and kept me sane and I would have shared – really I would – except I’ve struggled to keep the spark alight against the general trend of pushing water uphill. But even I was getting uncomfortable about the absence of updates so I was girding my loins for a post and then…


There’s nothing like your wife in tears to get your attention.


It started as a perfectly normal Monday morning: Early morning routine, breakfast, boys dispatched to school… and then it wasn’t.


Turns out a perfect storm of sorts had been brewing for Charlotte:

She’d been reading some stuff about children in unregulated care homes that had really rocked her.

We have close friends who are really struggling with their kids.

I’d just come back from presenting my nattily titled workshop ‘Coping With Crap’ to 120 young people at the Teenage Cancer Trust residential weekend ‘Find Your Sense Of Tumour’ – see what they did there?! - and that was a privilege and a pleasure.

She has watched husband’s gradual slide from post successful HMP Stafford pilot in March to battered and bruised from nearly 8 months of successive doors slammed in face.

And while we’ve checked in periodically with each other and I’m way better at processing it than I was, she knows that this period has been the most challenging for me: I’ve done what the skeptics asked for – proved my concept – and still seemingly, no-one wants it.


Mrs Mouncey it seems, had reached the ‘Well f**k ‘em then – I want my husband back’ stage.


I just sat there in almost shock as the tears and permission came:


There are kids in trouble who have been thrown on the scrapheap and that’s just wrong on so many levels.

You’re good.

Your stuff works – you’ve just proved it again this weekend.

We have people on our doorstep who’d welcome what you can give.

Maybe the prisons just aren’t ready – or they really don’t want it.

Forget the grant applications – nobody’s giving and it’s doing your head in.

You want to be out there making a difference – ‘cos you can and you do – not bent over a keyboard…

You don’t have to stop but maybe it’s time to change – to go where you’re wanted.

And if you want to do that then it’s OK by me.

In fact it’s more than OK – I think you should.


There was considerably more to it than that but you get the gist and that’s all you’re getting – ’cos the full version is between Mrs Mouncey and me.


I gave myself two days to process it but clearly word had got out via weird and wonderful forces because before that deadline expired I got this email from HMP Wymott, Lancashire with whom I’d been in on-off discussions for the last 18 months:


Andy, happy to fund ££ for 3 of your short programs Nov-Jan as we discussed. Can you link with __ to finalize delivery plans?


By Andy Mouncey, Sep 17 2019 11:12AM


Red Bull Amaphiko Academy
Red Bull Amaphiko Academy

RedBull - they of energy drinks with gravity-defining aspirations - have a global program that supports social entrepreneurs: People who have creative ideas to help solve the big problems in the world and make a difference to the lives of others.


Around this time last year I was invited to attend one of the 3 Amaphiko Connect UK gatherings in Bradford and despite my shy retiring demeanour I found I stood out for a number of reasons: Baldest, oldest - and the only one not using a phone as a watch.


I figured if I wanted to hook into an existing network where Sport For Development was seen as just normal I might as well go big and global. Our boys were sadly brought back down to earth when they learned that Daddy wasn’t actually going to work for RedBull and therefore wouldn’t have Danny MacAskill’s email address on tap - and they were too young to consume the product anyway (sigh).


RedBull and I have been back and forth since then. I have done an inspirational bit for one of their London-based teams and we now have a commitment to put together a short film on my prison work. (Just need to get some then, Andy doncha).


In the meantime I have shared some of the stuff populating my insides with the big world on the outside in the form of an interview.


Go forth and give wiings to the world, people!



By Andy Mouncey, Sep 3 2019 06:24PM

Breaking In


So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in.

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC www.runforyourlife.org.uk


Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception. Doors open–doors close-funding bids/rejected

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company incorporation. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

2018 Doors open–close/bids etc: Getting boring now. Still no ££

2019: Too far in to give up – so it’s this year or bust


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 21

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2



Drifting, Doldrums & Tambourines

I’d not been idle in the months after the Stafford pilot – really I hadn’t: Buoyed by that success I was pitching, sharing, telling, meeting, bidding, networking, asking…Interest was there, commitments were given – and then those commitments wobbled and deadlines started stretching.

F**k.

B*****d.

W**k.

S**t.

Here we go again…


And that’s WITH latest Proof Of Concept in my back pocket.


Meanwhile the Big Picture indicators of prison life continue to slide:

Self Harm: UP (again)

Self-inflicted Deaths: UP (again)

Assaults (prisoner on staff and prisoner on prisoner): UP – again (and frighteningly so)

Provision of Purposeful Activity Time: Two thirds of prisons missed the target

Number of Older Prisoners: UP (a lot)

Amount of money spent by government on a prison place: DOWN (again)

We continue to send more women to prison for non-violent offences

We still have the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe

Oh yeah – and Ministerial Turnover – which translates to Time On Task to do anything remotely meaningful: Defying description

(Source: MoJ Safety in Custody Quarterly Bulletins, Chief Inspector of Prisons Annual Report, Prison Reform Trust)


And just in case you thought that was all too peachy here’s the real bad news that many in the sector feared was coming from the latest custodian of the keys to Number 10 – (though by the time you read this…)

1. The evidence-based reforms to short-term sentencing to be scrapped.

(Evidence: It just makes the problem – reoffending – worse).

2. More prison places are to be made available.

(Evidence: If you just create more prisons/places you look for people to fill ‘em with…which makes the problem – reoffending – worse).


And all this from a bloke who went to a school that purports to prepare men for a life of public service and who likes to use big words and archaic language to make us think he’s really clever.


And here I am with an innovative and now proven solution to a problem that is still getting worse and will ultimately affect us all.

‘Cos here’s the kicker:

Most of the 83,000 or so people in our prisons will be released – and that could be to a neighborhood near you.

So whaddaya want: You want ‘em to play by the rules or..?


Seven years in, 21 failed funding bids, countless hours and miles on the road and two Proof Of Concept pilot programs with support from leading authority figures in the sector…

And still nobody’s buying.


What - in the name of all that is holy - is it going to take for me to make this F**kin’.

Thing.

Fly.


‘Cheer up.’ Said Anne Fox CEO of Clinks www.clinks.org who have been just bloody brilliant with me. ‘Most people trying to work this sector just give up - and of those of our members that do don’t hardly any work in the prison system. You’re just a great example of why that’s so – ‘cos it’s so flippin’ hard!’


Marshaling my motivation and very mindful of the Kebbell monies heading my way (see blog) I promised myself one last flurry of activity before throwing my toys out of the pram at the end of June:

One more grant bid.

A first pitch for a prison contract via the new MoJ tendering portal.

Three more proposals to three more prisons where I had invitations extended.

Three new in-person meetings in The Big City with two potential partners and one potential advocate.


As I write this I have no news to share on the pre-summer flurry.

I’m as certain as I can be that it wont be The Final Flurry – but it has taken yet another frank and searching discussion with Mrs Mouncey to get me OK with picking this up again:



What’s really changed?

Nothing.

Is the problem still there?

Yes.

Do you still believe in your solution?

F**k, yeah.

So what’s your problem then?

Er…


What my problem actually was was being OK – again – with playing second fiddle in the family breadwinning stakes.

And to continue to be OK with playing second fiddle for a few more months to come.


Or as the shy, retiring family-friendly comedian Chris Rock puts it: ‘Sometimes you just got to be cool with playing the tambourine to her lead guitar.’

‘Cos that’s a partnership, man.


By Andy Mouncey, Aug 5 2019 02:08PM


‘Ohmygodohmygodohmygod it says he’s leading – that can’t be right, can it?

Is this thing working right? Steve…?’

A somewhat flustered Charlotte looks across to our friend Camper Van Steve who is also bent over his phone dot watching the live tracker with a furrowed brow while our boys start to wonder what all the fuss is about.

‘Yep – same here: He’s leading…’

5 miles in and Husband is indeed at the business end.

Oh.My.God.


Meanwhile I was having a happy time completely oblivious to the fact that I was apparently leading. I’d worked my way through to the front but I could still see a couple of figures ahead as we climbed to the high point of the first stage and as far as I was concerned that was the lead. This year the first 60miles were all about a rehearsed Pace – and wherever that put me was wherever that put me. Position would come later.


By Andy Mouncey, Aug 1 2019 02:15PM

So…Project Be Un-Pissed did indeed happen last weekend so while I craft the full bells and whistles version here is something to whet your appetite.


Race Video (6min)


‘Mum - I’m bored!’ There’s a lot of waiting around for family...



Andy at the finish line video hopefully this link will work, it's facebook so may not...



‘What the f**k just happened?’



2011 Reunion: 1st and 2nd place from the 2011 race - Terry Conway has just finished 3rd in the 50 right after I’ve staggered in




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