Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Description

Prisons hold some of the most deprived and vulnerable members of our society. Because of the overwhelming challenges of integration back into the community, 60% of prisoners serving one year or less are reconvicted within a year of release. The Prison Phoenix Trust aims to halt this cycle, offering prisoners tools to discover aspects of themselves that seek harmony in their relationships and society, and to choose a different future. This is beneficial for prisoners, their prison community, and the wider community upon their release.

The Prison Phoenix Trust encourages prisoners in their spiritual lives through a daily practice of yoga and meditation, working with silence and the breath.

We encourage this practice by:

• helping establish regular prison classes for prisoners and for staff
• offering personal correspondence with prisoners about their yoga practice
• sending free books and CDs to prisoners who request them
• producing a quarterly newsletter
• training qualified yoga teachers for prison
• airing a radio yoga class three times per week
• writing regular practical yoga columns for prisoner publications such as Inside Time and Women in Prison

The project we are asking for funding for is to support our work with young offenders.

We currently help 228 young men between the ages of 15 and 21 who are held in custody. All have contacted us for help at some stage, and some will have access to nine of our current prison yoga classes for young offenders. Incarceration takes a severe toll on prisoners’ mental health and people of this age can be violent and angry. Yoga has been proven an effective intervention to reduce impulsivity (by an Oxford University study in 2012), one important cause of violence and crime. We currently run regular yoga classes in nine of these establishments and there is a need to support more young people in prison.

£5,000 is enough to support our work with these young offenders for a year, including sending books (£2741.22) to new prisoners who make contact and sending quarterly newsletters (£1085.20) to those we are already in touch with. Most importantly we need to establish and support a new yoga class for a year (£1,208).
The benefits of the yoga and meditation young offenders take up have far reaching effects.
These benefits include:

• Feeling less angry and aggressive
• Sleeping better
• Being less prone to taking drugs
• Being more ready to take up other educational activities
• Developing self-discipline and concentration, often for the first time
• Finding something in themselves they can like, they feel less isolated and encouraged to socialise, which prepares them well for resettlement

One young offender from HMYOI Polmont who we have been encouraging in his practice, had this to say recently in his letter to us:

‘I’m 14 months into my first ever sentence and I’m finding it really, really hard. Three weeks ago the guys from chaplaincy told me about the Friday afternoon yoga classes so I put my name down. To my surprise I actually enjoyed it. I have been every week since and do some of the meditating while I’m sitting in this room. I never thought I would come into prison and start enjoying reading books and doing yoga, but I do. It’s something I would like to take up when I’m out. It is very de-stressing, calming, relaxing and takes my mind away from being in here.
I forgot who I was and what I stood for, what my hobbies were for a long time out there. I’m hoping I’ve found my feet again.’

Young inmates hunger for something to help them survive and adjust to imprisonment and regular yoga and meditation will address these needs, improving well-being and restoring hope.

The Prison Phoenix Trust

Moment of Pride

The Prison Phoenix Trust offers support to young offenders during their darkest times. When prisoners have felt like the world has given up on them and their life is without hope, the Prison Phoenix Trust offers practices that allow them to not only cope and survive, but to flourish.

Location: United Kingdom