TPRF recently published this blog featuring the experiences of long term Peace Partners collaborator Mary Dalgleish and other Peace Education volunteers at the ICPA conference in London. Below is a copy of the blog published on TPRF's website.
Mary Dalgleish is a volunteer with the Peace Education Program (PEP) in the UK. In this blog she writes about her experience presenting the program at the recent International Corrections and Prison’s Association conference in London.
Founded in 1998, the mission of the International Corrections and Prison’s Association (ICPA) is to promote and share ethical and effective correctional practices to enhance public safety and healthier communities worldwide. This year the ICPA selected London for its annual conference, entitled “Innovation in Rehabilitation: Building Better Futures.” The conference was hosted by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, October 22-27, 2017.The ICPA conference was first brought to my attention in May by the UK charity Peace Partners, which offered to sponsor a PEP presentation there. PEP was implemented at a London prison in May 2015 and has been running continuously at the facility twice a week since then. It has also been successfully implemented in several other UK prisons.
I spoke to PEP volunteer Tony McLean, who has been instrumental in promoting PEP to UK prisons, and he said that he would be happy to collaborate with me on this, should our proposal be accepted. I then set about writing an abstract titled “Innovation in Rehabilitation: Building Better Futures with Personal Peace
Education,” which I submitted to the ICPA’s selection team in June. The proposal was accepted as part of the agenda for October 23rd and I then started working on the presentation, with the help and advice of other PEP volunteers and The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) PEP team. Tony and I got together to rehearse and prepare several times before the event.We arrived early on the 23rd and attended the opening ceremony and a couple of the morning sessions.
The Peace Education Programme (PEP), a flagship initiative from The Prem Rawat Foundation originated as a prison development programme, designed to support prisoners to explore the values of personal peace and inner resources and promote personal development and discovery. Having acquired considerable global success, PEP piloted in the UK at Thameside Prison in 2015. It was the success of this 20-session programme that led to its spread across the country. The PEP is currently running in 8 UK prisons
Peace Partners spoke with Carolyn Kean, volunteer leader of PEP in Leeds. Carolyn leads on the delivery of PEP in HMP Leeds alongside Andrea Walker and has been involved in the initiative since it came to the city in February this year.
PEP was introduced to Leeds through a charity called Catch22, which focuses on rehabilitation for prisoners and was quickly recognised for the difference it was making to the first cohort of prisoners that took part:
“The programme started as an initial block of ten sessions, each one exploring a different theme. These include inner strength, appreciation and clarity. This has now been increased to 20 as the value of the programme has become clear.”
Each session allows for periods of reflection and discussion, whilst absorbing the theme and exploring what it means for the individual.
“Prisoners benefit so much from this programme and you can see that so clearly because quite often they begin the course with incredibly low self-esteem. Watching them develop self-confidence and worth is incredibly rewarding for me as the person running the session, but also for all the people they have contact with and share these messages with.”
After a successful pilot, the programme was signed off to be used in the prison wing for more vulnerable inmates. The pilot focused on prisoners who were training to be mentors for others, and so were more conscious of their own development. The promotion of the programme to a different part of the prison is testament to its ability to support personal development and meaningful change.
It has been an incredible experience for Carolyn, who values the learning process she herself is going through as part of supporting the development of others. PEP in Leeds is very much still new and its future is looking bright, but Carolyn hopes that if it gains strong momentum it would also be a great encouragement for staff inside prisons to develop their own programmes.
At the moment, the tangible effects of PEP in the UK are undeniable and the programme has received encouraging feedback. Last year TPRF partnered with the Tutu Foundation in hosting a screening of the film 'Inside Peace' at the British Film Institute, with a keynote address given by founder Prem Rawat
The film, which documents the impact of PEP in Texas, was incredibly well received by attendees which included the governor of Thameside prison and numerous other representatives from UK Justice services.
Carolyn and Andrea will continue to drive the initiative within HMP Leeds, and together with a small team of volunteers, they will be ambassadors for a national campaign to promote the amazing work that PEP does with those that benefit from it so much.
Peace Partners is delighted to be involved with this inspiring programme and will be sponsoring a PEP presentation at the International Correctional Conference in October. You can find more information about the event here: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=212615&tabid=613186
In an interview with Tony McLean, a volunteer facilitator for the Peace Education Program (PEP) at Thameside Prison in London, the impact of PEP on transforming the lives of participants is discussed.
Says Tony, “It’s had a wonderful impact. About 140 inmates have participated in all the sessions of the 10-week course. Many inmates have low self-esteem. They come from backgrounds where they have not been respected at all, and a lot of them feel they have never been listened to. Many of them have never really listened to anything either. With the Peace Education Program, they have learned to start listening.”
He goes on to add that out of the 140 participants, only 4, less than 3%, didn’t complete the course.
Read the complete story of PEP at Thameside here.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of a generous donor, Peace Partners has been able to support the purchase of Peace Education course materials for several UK prisons where the PEP will soon be taking place.
The Peace Education Programme is focused on self-improvement by working on an individuals self worth and inner strength. It aims to bring personal peace to the participant and help them to make positive choices in life, breaking the cycle of negativity many prisoners find themselves trapped in.
TPRF has posted an article on it's recent event in June 2016 which it co-hosted with partner the Tutu Foundation.
Short extract from the TPRF article:-
"A groundbreaking forum on such timely topics as criminal justice reform, peace education and breaking the cycle of crime was convened at the British Film Institute last week, following the UK premiere of the multi-award-winning documentary film Inside Peace. Led by Lord Tom McNally, Chair, Youth Justice Board and Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and Peter Clarke, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and former head of the anti-terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard, the panel included some of the leading voices in law enforcement, probation, maximum security prisons and the criminal justice systems in the UK and in South Africa. The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) and the Tutu Foundation UK co-hosted the event, which was emceed by Paul Bloomfield, attorney and governor of the Sir John Cass Foundation..."
You can read the rest and learn more plus view the video of the forum here.
“I have been dreaming all my life.
I have been dreaming happiness and un-happiness,
I have experienced both.
I now want neither, they have not fulfilled me.
I hope now for the real thing
that will transcend happiness and un-happiness.
I sit back, put my feet up and relax ”
This was a reflection from one of the participants at the recent Peace Education Programme in Cheltenham.
Celebrate Life Events is promoting new Peace Education classes in East Croydon. This is based on TPRF's innovative 10 week course. Enrolment on this potentially life changing course is free of charge and there is an easy to fill in application form on their website.
Mary Dalgleish writes about PEP in HMP Thameside & shares inspirational poem written by an inmate...
[This article as first published on Peace Partners main blog on 19th November 2015]
For the past year I have had the privilege of being a part of a team of volunteer PEP facilitators at Thameside prison, a Category B establishment that holds around 1000 convicted and remand male prisoners. We have recently started our fifth PEP there and now have a team of 19 volunteers and interest in PEP is growing steadily. One of the sessions covers the topic of "CHOICE" and here Prem Rawat talks about seeds saying, "We are each given seeds. There is a seed of anger, but there is also a seed of kindness. There is a seed of doubt, but there is also a seed of understanding. How restful it will be in your garden of life depends on what kind of seeds you sow.”
One of the prisoners was deeply touched by this session and inspired to write the following poem, which he gave me permission to freely share. He wants to be part of our team of facilitators so we hope that he can do that in the New Year.
[This article was originally featured on the Peace Partners main blog on 11th October 2015]
Mary Dalgleish who is part of a team of PEP volunteers says: " We have thoroughly enjoyed facilitating the Peace Education Programme at HMP Thameside and have felt very welcomed by staff and prisoners alike. We started with a team of 9 volunteers and to date we have completed 2 courses with remand prisoners. Feedback from attendees has been excellent and the prison authorities want to extend the programme to other prisoner groups. We have now recruited a further 10 volunteers and started our third course with remand prisoners and a further course with long term prisoners. Here are some quotes from course attendees:
“This course has formed an important part of my rehabilitation…I’ve realised that my life is not on hold – it’s just the things I can do in my life that are on hold.”
“I’ve lost my freedom, but I’m finding my identity. So pleased I chanced upon this programme; it has and will continue to inspire my growth and those around me; I hope to sow new seeds of hope and clarity. I never really took the time to look within – I wish I did – life WAS confusion.”
“What I liked most about the Peace Education Programme was the encouragement to never give up your hope.”
As Michael Gove is looking to transform the criminal justice debate in Britain, just as Right-wing politicians have done in America, this could be a good time for PEP to expand its' work throughout the UK.
‘We’ve got to have space for fresh thinking,’ he replied carefully. ‘How can we take that essence and ensure that when individuals are in court, there is a teachable moment that they recognise they’ve done wrong – and if custody may not be the answer for them, that there are other things we can do?’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3267742/Has-depraved-Texan-gangster-convinced-Gove-jails-extraordinary-encounter-UK-s-Justice-Secretary-reformed-hoodlum-revolutionise-penal-policy-let-criminals-streets.html#ixzz3oFOhN92r