Beyond Recovery has appointed former apprentice, Omar Wilson, to the role of deputy project co-ordinator to help run its new Virtual Impact Programme (VIP). Omar joins the Beyond Recovery team to work alongside Derrick Mason, who has been doing fantastic work since he started back in May 2020. Omar and Derrick are responsible for promoting the new Virtual Impact Programme, designed for people who wish to make social change, to work alongside families and friends affected by the Criminal Justice System.

Derrick and Omar are also joint facilitators on the programme with Jacqueline Hollows, Beyond Recovery’s founder.

Discovering Beyond Recovery

Like Derrick, Omar (known affectionately as ‘Wilson’) first discovered Beyond Recovery when he was at HMP Onley. It was my first time in prison, and I just didn’t want to stay in my cell all day, so I decided to opt-in for every course I could,” he said. However, Omar found that most of the courses followed a similar pattern: “They told us what they wanted us to know and got us to write it down, without asking what we had to say. So, I became the class clown and didn’t take them very seriously.

“At first, I had a lot of judgement about Beyond Recovery, because I thought: ‘I’m not beyond recovery … I can recover any day’. Yet I still went because I really didn’t want to be in my cell. My first impressions were that it was just like every other group I’d been to. But after some initial form-filling, there was no writing involved; it was pure conversation. Over time I realised what the BR team was giving us … love. And I couldn’t turn it away, because they were giving love in a place where it just isn’t given.”

Understanding resilience

“Beyond Recovery has impacted my life a lot,” Omar explains. “It’s given me patience and shown me the resilience of all human beings. It’s shown me that I don’t have to be afraid of my experiences at all. I can nurture them and learn from them. As a result, I now have compassion for everything and everyone because I no longer judge based on what I think.  I know there’s a thought process going on, so I don’t act on it. It’s amazing because I used to take my thoughts and feelings so seriously. Now I realise that my feelings are simply indicators of my thoughts.”

New Virtual Impact Programme

The VIP is now underway for its first cohort. It shares the Three Principles understanding with people who wish to be impactful or work with communities. The programme is based on a 10-session curriculum, which is delivered weekly via Zoom. The VIP has been created specifically for integrating different populations to instigate social change.

Omar is thrilled to be involved: ‘It means everything to me because I love helping. In fact, I loved helping before I even knew about the Three Principles. It feels like it makes my heartbeat. Beyond Recovery pointed me to that even more solidly and it seems this is what I’m meant to do. I hope that, through the VIP programme, we can connect with as many people as possible.”

Making a difference in the community

Alongside working for Beyond Recovery, Omar is one of the five founders of a community group, Beyond Truth. They established the group to share the Three Principles and help transform the lives of others in their communities. Omar is particularly interested in youth work: “I really like working with young people and all the stuff around youth work because I’ve always valued kids highly. I hope that we can build up Beyond Truth and speak to as many people in our communities as we can, to share what we’ve learnt.”

Jacqueline Hollows commented: “I’m delighted to that Omar has joined the team. He has a passion for making a difference that is matched by his energy and exuberance. I love sharing this understanding with the two guys [Derrick and Omar] because it goes straight to our participants’ hearts.”

For more information on Beyond Recovery’s Virtual Impact Programme, contact Jacqueline Hollows: [email protected].