‘Realising potential’ is not a catch phrase or a quick fix.  That’s true for everyone.  It takes time, nurturing, learning.  It involves falling over, failing, overwhelm as well as success, joy and satisfaction.  At Beyond Recovery the work we do in prison has one specific goal:

“to awaken people to the innate resources that lie within them”.

The fruits of this work are seeing what happens after that.  People overcome addictions, have new perspectives on their mental health, reconnect with families, are motivated to work, take interest in education, discover compassion for other people and many other ‘accidental’ outcomes.

Not all of the people and not all at the same time.

Because, after a lifetime of thinking one way, of believing in the made up persona you have created it is often difficult to live in a new skin.  When we are learning to walk we all take a little tumble from time to time.

We have noticed (and evidenced) that the participants who ‘stay in the conversation’, i.e. the ones who attend several groups or work with the peer mentors, continue to find their way in their new skin.  They fall over but they get back up again, they start to see hope, they experiment with their newfound confidence and attitudes and they have extraordinary results.

Some of these participants are recruited onto our Apprenticeship programme.  This is when we really start to see the pure untapped potential within.  People from different backgrounds, different religions, different experiences start to create camaraderie and start supporting each other; we start to see their skills and mind-sets turn towards helpful, positive activities that benefit others; ideas flourish (The apprentices in Year 1 created, organised and ran a seminar for the public called Mind Behind Bars; Year 2’s apprentices  created, organised and ran a programme for dealing with cravings called Beyond Cravings); and the ripple effect created is far reaching (one man has reconnected with his daughter after 15 years; one man has created a plan for a fashion design business).

Having realised that a ‘quick fix’ programme is not enough to combat both the challenges faced in the criminal justice system and the challenges faced from a lifetime of living a particular way Beyond Recovery has always been dedicated to continuing the support of our participants beyond their programme.

The vision of an ‘Academy’ has always been part of the plan and last week a number of elements combined to create the first steps.  Through collaboration and intention we are now setting up a charity for the specific purposes of continuing to work with these guys and their families; to find ways of supporting them through networking, brainstorming, education and mentoring; to create a new view of community and harmony; to realise the incredible untapped potential of people who were ‘trapped in the system’ and who have found the only bars are the ones we create in our Minds.

We will work with people attending the Academy in four ways:

  1. Uncover a foundation for mental health, creativity, compassion and resilience within the individual
  2. Work with families to establish trust, rapport and a basis for sustainable change
  3. Create opportunities through apprenticeships, networking and collaborations. And though enhancing skills & mindsets
  4. Build social solutions through reinvesting the skills and attitudes towards finding solutions to societies pressing issues (homelessness, recidivism, violence, social exclusion)