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By Andy Mouncey, Mar 25 2021 11:08AM

This work at HMP/YOI Brinsford is funded by HM Prison & Probation Service through Clinks Covid19 Winter Support Grant Programme.


The chickens stole the show.

Who knew?

My 4 twenty-something lads spent endless minutes seemingly captivated by the clucking pecking ground-based beasties that were roaming around in their enclosure 100 yards from our base of operations.

And then there was the pond – full of exotic fish if you believed the exclamations.

Again, endless minutes spent crouched at the edge…


I’d clocked the garden during my warm up visit and added it my list of ‘Must Do.’

Dr Michelle Baybutt has spent countless hours building the case for gardens and growing to be an essential part of rehabilitation in prison under the delightfully titled banner GOOP (Greener On the Outside for Prisons) https://www.uclan.ac.uk/research/activity/greener-on-the-outside-for-prisons

I just know that being outside in the green stuff is good and I take it for granted – except that’s my privilege. If all I do is bring my lads outside I know I’ll be ahead on the scoreboard: GOOP: Get Outside Or Perish.


This was the morning of Day 2 (of 2) and the green and pleasant land had wrapped my little group in Nature’s equivalent of a comfort blanket.

Calm had descended after a somewhat fraught start.


We’d started the day spending frikkin’ ages persuading our pocket rhinoceros Luke to stop throwing smokescreens and make good on his commitment to see the two days through. He’d worked on a wonderfully creative set of reasons/excuses to hide the underlying theme: ‘Just Can’t Be Arsed.’


We were actually treading a fine line here. I had our other 3 lads with me – yes, for those of you that read the previous piece that does mean I have a group of 4 not six, and a slightly different 4, and a member of staff but a different member of staff. All fairly normal so far – and the longer we spent with Luke the more pissed off they were becoming.

Because bless him, he was not exactly class favourite after yesterday’s attention-seeking performance (sigh).


Except I knew it was all bullshit and my staff wingman G had been clear that one of the measures of a good day today was that Luke see it through.

And the value of turning him and keeping him would be huge – for him.

So he was coming – whether he knew it or not.


Eventually we had a full roll again and I made straight for the garden where we lingered – and allowed uncharitable thoughts to drain away through the soil.

We lingered and I watched what could have been toddlers exploring a farm.

For the first time?

So I checked: ‘Have any of you been here before?’

No.

That would explain it then.

Start again.


The crown jewels moment had come right at the end of Day 1. I kinda knew I’d be up against the Clueless Shouty Dickhead test and they’d clearly decided that I wasn’t because at 7 hours in they were where we wanted them: speaking freely from the heart.


Consistent with my operating model of ‘Just do it – learn, then do it again’ these first two days were all about giving them some of my stuff to test drive and giving them reasons to open up about what they needed so I could be clear about how I could help them help themselves and each other.


One week later we’d have another pair of days where I’d be older and wiser, we’d adjust the content from Day 1 & 2 and be confident enough to add more men to the group.

And the same again for Day 5 & 6 Week 3.


I figured I could anticipate well enough what they wanted – interaction, blow the cobwebs out, just get out and have something different for chrissakes…

And probably cake: Lots of cake.


But what did they actually need? That was a different question the answers to which would come after we’d ticked the Want boxes well enough.

Give ‘em what they want first so the need becomes apparent.


‘Thing was, I’d no idea how long that would all take and what exactly would need to happen to get there. That was more a stretch for the prison used as they were to operating a controlled environment with no surprises. And here’s me coming in pitching a modus operandi along the lines of I just need to do some stuff to figure out exactly what I need to do for you – but I’m not exactly sure what that stuff is – yet.

You Ok with that?

Blless ‘em, they were.


So in front of the lads I’m doing my best projected ‘ Yes I’m here because I give a sh** about you’ (through a mask) keeping them going and getting heading outside more often than not: Being genuine and trusting my process and content.


And towards the end of the day we got their The Big Four:

1. Physical activity outside – team challenge format please

2. Care of self and cell

3. Time and space to talk about the sh** we want (and need) to talk about

4. Advocacy: To be able to reach others with this


It’s been tougher than I thought and on reflection I home in on two reasons.

One is the obvious practical one that has affected much of the delivery while the second has taken me by surprise:

1.Doing this with mask and Covid restrictions

2.The lads have actually got comfortable with lethargy – and breaking out of that is hard


But break out we did and the morning of Day 2 was Physically Active Learning turned up to Number 11 https://www.naht.org.uk/news-and-opinion/news/pupil-support-and-safeguarding-news/physically-active-learning-key-research-and-resources/ I was a happy boy ‘cos I’d got my crown jewels and we were all a bit more relaxed together: everything else was cream on the top. There was just one last request before we finished:

‘Can we see the chickens again?’




Timeline RFYL CIC

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 formed. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

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

2019 March: Second ‘Proof Of Concept’ pilot delivered HMP Stafford (unpaid)

2019 June: First business sponsorship (v surprised smiley face) from Kebbell Homes

2019 Dec: First paid work secured HMP Wymott, Lancs.

2020 March: Covid19 pandemic hits - work stops as prisons enter lockdown

2020 June: Start an online service supporting prison governors as prisons stay shut

2021 January: First funding awarded for Covid19 response work HMP Brinsford


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 37

Funding Bids Successful: 1

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

By Andy Mouncey, Mar 12 2021 02:51PM

This work at HMP/YOI Brinsford is funded by HM Prison & Probation Service through Clinks Covid19 Winter Support Grant Programme.


‘So…’ projecting big smiley face from distance with big wide arms for added fill-the-space--ness - ‘everyone be up-standing ‘cos we’re gonna go in 3-2-1 GO!’

Nothing happens.

Nobody moves.

The 10 young men around me may as well be made of stone and they’re all telegraphing the same silent message:

Your move, smartarse.

F**k.


This is not as advertised:

‘We’ve got you in front of the prison council,’ said the staff. ‘There’s some good lads there – we’ve talked to them about this and they’re up for it.’


So I’m a happy boy: I’m here to do some focus group stuff – to involve the lads in the program design bit – and to get ‘em engaged in a teeny tiny bit of physical activity (fizz) so I can see what I’m gonna be working with.


I’ve thought carefully about my opening remarks, scripted them and rehearsed them as I always do – that vital first 30second ‘Land ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em window’

And this should be top of the intellectual food chain: 2 representatives from each of the 5 blocks or Residences, as they’re called.

Break the ice – warm ‘em up.


Only half an hour ago I’d walked my staff hosts here at HMP/YOI Brinsford near Birmingham through everything I was about to do – and not a hint of a red flag was waved.

And that included taking them through this same fizz challenge in their office space in full uniform that I’ve just set up now.


Meanwhile back in the real world I know full well what’s next – and sure enough…

Here come the rocks.

Objections-excuses are lobbed into the middle while nerves are hidden in ridicule.

I can spot the gym-bunnies a mile off and sure enough we have one here – and Biceps bless him, could look more affronted if he tried.

Gonna have to do this the hard way then (sigh).


It takes many minutes of round the houses from me and the staff and in the end I resort to getting 3 staff to complete the 3 x 17 second challenge as a way of throwing down a gauntlet and reassuring the lads that I’m not about to turn them into an onion or get them to do something they really can’t.


And trust me I know how to pitch this stuff by now: The challenge I’ve set them is to stand up, lie down face up on the floor then stand up again. They can use both hands to do this, or one hand or do it no-hands with hands on head. How many times in 17 secs? Match it then beat it.

(Hey – you can join in a home too!)

FINALLY the cracks start to appear: we get one up for it – as long as everyone else does, of course – then another, before I declare an away win and get it done with 3.


I don’t have to be a mind reader to see that the staff are pissed and embarrassed (for me) in equal measure. But I have one of my three boxes ticked and sure enough ticking the second – getting some of them to contribute to programme content – proves a little easier.

Everything’s relative of course, and there’s still only 4 out of 10 playing.

Now for number 3 and I go for the blunt approach:

‘Stand up if you want to work with me next week.’


And that’s how I end up with a 5-strong first cohort and to my relief they’re not all white. Gang culture is real here on the inside because it is real on the outside and some of those divides are indeed skin color.


As the lads start to disperse with their escorts the one closest to me - and one of my 5 - catches my eye and leans in. And that’s how right at the end I’m given a glimpse of the vulnerability behind the façade that peer pressure has created:

‘Thanks for coming in and trying to do something – we all really need it.’


Locked Up In A Pandemic: What’s It Really Like?

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published a report that includes voice transcripts from people who have spent 22hrs/day in a cell for the last year. Please look & listen

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/what-happens-to-prisoners-in-a-pandemic/



By Andy Mouncey, Mar 2 2021 01:49PM

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – just go with me here please - came into force in the early 70’s. Essentially it boiled down to the nuclear powers at the time saying to the rest of the world: ‘We’ve got them, you can’t have them and you gotta promise never to try get them.’

Or scoring the winning goal in the first half and then declaring the game over taking the ball home with you.

‘Kinda feels like that here at the moment albeit with somewhat lower stakes.


We’d been about to go public with news of our partnership with one of the big four London-based auditors who will be supporting our work with prison governors. This has been a long time in the making and has the potential to transform our work: This firm will bring their people (as professional mentors) and funding to the partnership.

So it’s big stuff.

Unique for the sector.

Probably gonna shake some trees too.


Then some people who we respect and who know about these things said:

‘Er, do HM Prison & Probation Service know about this?’

Well, I have been trying to give them a chance to support the work – I was asked for a formal proposal back in October, remember?

(The reply to that arrived early Feb but that’s another rant).


‘Really think it would be a good idea to get their blessing before they read about it in the press’

Well, I have been trying…

‘No Andy, you’re listening but you ain’t hearing: Pause the work, get the blessing from the right people THEN you can do the fanfare bit. There’s too much at stake here.’

Silence.

Bollocks.


Then around the same time some more people who know about this stuff and who we respect said:

‘And after doing this work for nearly a year now it would be a very good idea to be formally contracted.’

Well, I have been trying…

You get the idea.


Eventually I wound up in touch with The Keeper Of The Big List (of approved suppliers to HMPPS) who also happens to be one of those very big firms that provide professional development services to very big firms.

‘I’m told we need to be on this List,’ I said.

‘The List is closed’ came the reply.


Well that sucks.

Apparently we need the blessing and we don’t get the blessing till we’re official and we can’t get official ‘cos someone’s called time on the game.

Meanwhile the need for the work is escalating and still no-one else is doing what we’re doing in the way that we’re doing it for the people we’re doing it for.

And having the impact.




Time to pull some levers then and share the problem with folks we have touched.

Please solve it for us, we said.

And off they went.


Then we did the same with our intended future partner who we knew was wise in these matters.

Please solve it for us, we said.

And off they went too.


In the meantime we had a decision to make about the work:

Do we just stop? Continue? What about fees? What about our governors?

What about the commitments we’d already made to them?


We are acutely aware that through this work we have a unique insight into what is happening inside our jails: To the leadership, staff and serving prisoners.

This is arguably a once-in-a-generational challenge – the scale and human cost of which is still emerging. Studies are now starting to quantify that cost for those behind bars https://www.russellwebster.com/impact-of-lockdown-on-prisoner-mental-health-devastating but here’s the thing: We’ve not seen an equivalent carried out for prison staff and their leadership teams.

But we know.


We know because we’re speaking to prison governors damn near every week and have been for the last 10months.

We know because we’ve learned that actually the most powerful thing we can do - once we had their trust - is just to shut up and let them speak from the heart to us and their peers.

Because they don’t do this anywhere else, they really need to do it now and they’re gonna need it in the future.

We know because they tell us.


It didn’t take much thinking about: We make good on those commitments and continue the work on our time to Easter. We’d figure out the rest along the way. Everyone we respect on this tells us that they think There Is A Way – and when I pause between bouts of teeth-grinding so do I.


Then this week I’m introduced to someone at HMPPS who seems to get how we are stuck and gives a damn enough to help us get un-stuck.

In part because he can see how we can make his life easier.

Please solve this for us, I said.

There Could Be A Way, he said.

And off he went.




Timeline RFYL CIC

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 formed. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

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

2019 March: Second ‘Proof Of Concept’ pilot delivered HMP Stafford (unpaid)

2019 June: First business sponsorship (v surprised smiley face) from Kebbell Homes

2019 Dec: First paid work secured HMP Wymott, Lancs.

2020 March: Covid19 pandemic hits - work stops as prisons enter lockdown

2020 June: Start an online service supporting prison governors as prisons stay shut

2021 January: First funding awarded for Covid19 response work HMP Brinsford


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 37

Funding Bids Successful: 1

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



By Andy Mouncey, Feb 1 2021 10:31AM

It’s way too quiet.

There should be background hubbub punctuated with the occasional shout and sometimes in some places the frisson of a fragile surface tension stretched to almost…

Gone.


I’m back in a prison nearly a year into a global pandemic and while somethings remain the same somethings are very different.


A little over a week ago I clocked another milestone that has taken 8 years and 37 attempts to achieve:

WE GOT FUNDING!


Just before Xmas more monies suddenly became available from HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) https://www.clinks.org/community/blog-posts/new-funding-available-covid-19-winter-support-grants which prompted yours truly to utter something along the lines of ‘f**k it – you gotta be in it to win it’ and dash off what was actually my third application to this pandemic-related fund.

Someone must have given me points for perseverance.


Since then more reports have been published highlighting the hidden human cost of a successful policy of containing the spread of Covid-19 in the prison system https://www.russellwebster.com/the-state-of-the-criminal-justice-nation/

In my experience doing Something is almost always better than Nothing – and while Nothing might look like an easier option in the short term, it usually means you’re trading it for a big nasty Something in the future.


My application was to do Something so here I am doing the rounds at a prison in the Midlands starting to figure out exactly what that Something could look like in a site housing some 450 men who have been mostly staring at their cell walls for the last 10 months.


Nobody’s doing.

Nobody’s moving.

It’s way too quiet.


I check what I’ve read previously with my staff escort: ‘So…this confined-to-cells normality?’

Pretty much – can be 23 hours a day…

But what has been less well reported comes next:

It’s actually given us more time with the men: We’re not moving them around from one activity to the next, they’re spending more time in-cell so it’s easier for us to talk to them – build relationships, give them individual help…

‘You’d want to retain that then in the new post-covid normal?’

Absolutely…

Add that to the New Something list then.


The Morning Meeting

Every prison holds a first-thing brief for the senior people. Pre-pandemic this would be seated cosily round a table sipping from a hot beverage of choice with a familiar hubbub of professional-personal exchange around the formal business.

Not so now.


I’m escorted into the prison chapel which – as one of the largest floor spaces in the prison (once the chairs are cleared) – now serves as the venue of choice. The reason for that is that the dozen or so people attending are seated 2-3m apart around the edge of the room which puts them at least 10m from the person opposite.

They deliver their updates in turn through a facemask.


What exchange there is is brief, purely transactional and at the governors’ direction – and it’s all over way faster than normal.

This is bad news for me ‘cos it means I have even less time than normal to decide what to say – and this is important ‘cos as we walked in I was casually told that I’d be introduced and that it would be nice to say something.

Please Andy.

Except I’m rusty after 10months off games in the real world and I really should have anticipated this and come prepared rather than just open-minded.

Muppet.


So while doing my level best to project calm compassionate authority, inside I’m frantically trying out and discarding options for opening remarks. I’ve quickly shifted from What do I want to tell them? to What do they want – no, need – to hear?

Then it’s the staff member closest to me and then it’s the governor saying my name and then it comes to me. I stand, pause, take them all in cross everything and say what I think they need to hear:

Thank you.

Thank you for continuing to find the energy from somewhere to do a difficult job in almost impossible circumstances…


People Want To Talk

Almost everyone I met wanted to talk. Some even sought me out to talk. And without exception they wanted to talk about how to make it – the experience and operation of the prison – better.

I found it uplifting and humbling with a hint of surprising thrown in – this last one because I’ve always experienced fear projected as hostility from some staff in every prison I’ve ever been in. That tends to be the wanna-be dominant males in the PE team.

Not this time.

This time people speak freely and from the heart – and it warms mine.


Rules, Regs & The Space In The Middle

HMPPS has rules and regulations. Lots of them – down to the enth degree.

There is good reason for that because one of its’ central reasons-for-being is keeping the public safe: A big expensive job with high stakes and even bigger consequences if it goes wrong.

This means there are also lots of rules for how to operate a prison during a pandemic – and because the nature of the pandemic changes those rules have been changing too.

To the enth degree.

Sometimes every few days.

By people who are in genuinely uncharted territory.


So I’m expecting to be heavily choregraphed and limited in what we can do – but it also becomes increasingly apparent that there is some wriggle room to be had as well.

IF we can make a case, manage ‘risk’ and influence those who ought to have work like this already tagged in the ‘Essential-Urgent’ column.


My big picture question coming in was how possible would it be to deliver a covid19-safe version of my 24 hour intensive program I refined at HMP Wymott nearly a year ago https://www.bigandscaryrunning.com/blog/4584755693/A-Glimpse-Of-The-Real-Inside/11437358 Or am I reaching for that proverbial blank sheet?


I’m left with a blurred picture of my intended operational landscape and an elusive sense of opportunity.

And some very specific questions:

Can I do a full day contact time through a facemask?

Does the facemask rule totally f**k us re meaningful in-person communication?

Can my stuff still work as well without physical contact? Handshakes? Hugs?

Physical exertion + facemask = route to disaster (surely?)

After 10months relative isolation and inactivity will I simply be working with men who are presenting symptoms that are more post-traumatic stress than anything else?


And some stark early realisations:

I need to shake out what I don’t know.

We’re gonna need a full rehearsal (to shake out most of what I don’t know).

With staff – and unions.

Probably.


Bottom Line: I’ve really missed the work – and it’s a joy to be back inside.


Timeline RFYL CIC

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 formed. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

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

2019 March: Second ‘Proof Of Concept’ pilot delivered HMP Stafford (unpaid)

2019 June: First business sponsorship (v surprised smiley face) from Kebbell Homes

2019 Dec: First paid work secured HMP Wymott, Lancs.

2020 March: Covid19 pandemic hits - work stops as prisons enter lockdown

2020 June: Start an online service supporting prison governors as prisons stay shut

2021 January: First funding awarded for Covid19 response work HMP Brinsford


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 37

Funding Bids Successful: 1

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


By Andy Mouncey, Nov 20 2020 09:26AM

So.

The last blog entry was very definitely in the upbeat category but it’s taken me 5 weeks to post again. This either means I’ve been skipping around leaving sparkly rainbows in my wake…

Or.

Sh**’s gone t**s up again.


OK.

Sh** hasn’t gone T.U.A. by any reasonable measure but one has been back to a cycle of up and down and up and down.

Again.

I’ve been OK with the task-orientated stuff but anything requiring any remotely creative element is another matter.

Which is all my coaching work.

And what am I mostly doing at the moment?

You got it…


Now I’ve puzzled at this pattern for a while ‘cos if I look back in my diary to the start of first lockdown in March the evidence is all there: the start of a week can feel like pushing water uphill and I very definitely have had a pattern of getting more productive as the week goes on. Monday is worse if I’ve had a relatively inactive/unfocused Sunday and the pisser is that even if I do successfully grasp and follow my Absolute F**kin’ Minimum Start Of Day Thread at the appointed time…

Wake.

Toilet.

Shave.

Water.

Tea 1.

Read.

Tea 2.

Wake plus 30mins: Start mobility routine

Wake plus 60mins: Finish mobility. Cold shower. Dress.

Start breakfast for Small Boys & Wife.


…I can drop into an abyss once the boys leave for school (sigh).

All of which means that the first 24-36 hours of the week I can be mainly shouting at myself inside my head along the lines of:

‘FFS GET A F**KIN’ GRIP AND GET ON WITH IT!’

But come Friday I’m f***in’ flying.


Not every week by any means but more times than I was comfortable with given the following:

Family Mouncey are all OK on any measures that matter.

Our shit is definitely in the ‘First World Problem / Inconvenience’ category.

I teach this shit and therefore have more strategies than most.


And in my defence those strategies have been in use – honest:

Get ready the night before.

Get ready to start before anyone else is up.

Get ready to start with exercise.

Write your intentions.

Share those intentions with Significant Other.

Remind your S.O. that they have permission to poke you with a stick.

Make those Intentions Activities that you can move through in sequence without thinking too much.

Make your list.

Reduce that list.

Order said list.

Etc.


And yet I still wasn’t exactly a role model for consistent productive practice.


The last few weeks especially have seen a cycle of arrangements made and unmade. Chinks of light have been emerging in the criminal justice world as prisons moved slowly back to some restricted version of normal. Visits re-started. I knew some providers were back in and able to do Something… and suddenly I had opportunities to visit and do scoping work in readiness to re-start working on the inside as well – and to actually see people in the flesh: At last! Because god knows that Something is desperately needed…


But with the pandemic situation still very fluid, site status and access would change suddenly as Something Else Happened and government reacted with another round of restrictions. The invites went on hold and it was clear that Zoom would be in ascendency for a little while longer.

Something was missing and 8 months on it was pissing me off that I still hadn’t figured what that might be.

And then came this:

Over the summer I’d found a new author and quickly hoovered up anything of his that I could find. John Scalzi is a US sci-fi author and commentator on all things social and political. He pulls no punches. His commentary is recorded in his blog and after I’d done with my hoovering of his back catalogue I started dipping into that. Of course there is a US-focus but many of the questions he addresses have a wider application.

‘Sure made me think.


Then in one entry for 2017 he dug into his own ‘feels like pushing water uphill’ thing.

His conclusion? Trump infects all and everything all the damn time even if you’re a wealthy straight white guy not in the crosshairs of his spewing bile

https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/10/02/2017-word-counts-and-writing-process/

And that was before Covid.


Of course there is individual responsibility to choose to get our own shit together.

And yet.

Bring the Scalzi insight to this side of the pond in 2020 and instead of Agent Orange we have Boris & Chums-Brexit-Covid every f**kin’ day on a 24 hour rolling cycle of news and views.

And – like Scalzi – I’m a healthy educated white guy with means so I will ride this out way better than most and I’ve also ’unplugged’ and changed how I consume my news:

I don’t do social media.

I only buy a paper on Saturday.

I check the BBC website once a day for a few short minutes at a time.

And yet the evidence is there in my records: I continue to struggle periodically to rise above the bollocks. But at least now I have ‘why’…

And a reason/excuse to work with.


But the redemption piece to all this is that there’s also an antidote available free on demand thanks to the BBC: DIY SOS The Big Build

Here’s a clue if you’ve not seen it: it’s not about the DIY – it’s about people and their amazing capacity to give a shit about other people who are struggling and then choose to collaborate and do something amazing to help.

‘Tops up my Hope Tank and makes me proud to be human every single time.




Timeline RFYL CIC

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 formed. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

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

2019 March: Second ‘Proof Of Concept’ pilot delivered HMP Stafford (unpaid)

2019 June: First business sponsorship (v surprised smiley face) from Kebbell Homes

2019 Dec: First paid work secured HMP Wymott, Lancs.

2020 March: Covid19 pandemic hits - work stops as prisons enter lockdown

2020 June: Start an online service supporting prison governors as prisons stay shut


The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 37

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

BOOKS-2