Monday, 28 March 2011

A trip to Wandsworth

As the train slumped to a stop at Earlsfield Station my stomach suddenly churned into a nervous existence. What was I getting myself into? ‘Gail – do you fancy joining us at Wandsworth Prison to visit our Future Me interview skills workshop?... Yeah sure!’…wait a minute. Prison?
Apprehensive, tense, a little scared even, I walked through the gates of Wandsworth expecting to feel overwhelmed by suffocating gloom and depression.  Generating my naive and ridiculous expectations from  Hollywood rather than any real life research or experience, I imagined prisoners to be appear vacant, but threatening, with all life seemingly sucked out of them, and everything to be happening in slow motion.
I could not have been more wrong.
Visiting the offenders at Wandsworth prison was one of the most inspiring and stimulating days I’ve had since I started interning with IJP. As soon as I met the offenders any nerves I had stepping off the train quickly evaporated. Of course I do not envy a life in prison, but witnessing such uplifting motivation to make positive changes and become, as one inmate remarked, ‘honourable members of society’, was more than inspirational.
The Future Me course, run by IJP’s parent company Media for Development in collaboration with the PIANO Project, is a fantastic example of the positive impact a social enterprise can have on our community. The interview skills workshop aims to provide practical advice to enable offenders to feel confident when looking for employment on their release. Shifting attention from their negative past, the workshop demonstrates how to identify and present offender’s strengths to help them move towards a positive future.
The development of  the Future Me courses were partially funded by profits generated from IJP and  are run by Media For Development. For more information visit
By Gail Wilson (IJP Intern)