A series of group workshops delivered in prison, for young people aged 15 to 25, who want to create a crime-free future.
Followed by optional one-to-one life coaching ‘through the gates’ and on release in their communities.
The Hero’s Journey programme helps young people understand how change happens – and how to navigate it.
Applying our ‘Hero’s Journey’ model to their own life, they gain insights into past decisions and their consequences; a clearer understanding of where they are now; and what their life could be in years to come.
The coaching approach emphasises future orientation, and it sparks
a fundamental shift in cognition. Participants learn how to identify and challenge their own limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. They develop greater resilience and self-awareness; build a more positive self-identity; and identify future goals that excite them.
Participants may self-refer for this programme, be introduced by peers, or be referred by prison staff.
When I went to jail for the fourth time, I thought I would either spend the rest of my life in jail or I would end up dead. I had mixed with the wrong crowd all my life and graduated from petty theft of mobile phones and selling cannabis when I was 13 to robbery and grievous bodily harm a few years later. I first went into prison when I was 16 and was in and out of the system for the next six years.
I was on a road of destruction and felt I didn’t really have anything to live for because I didn’t think much more was possible for my life.
But then I worked with Spark Inside. Before the workshop I didn’t feel like I could talk to other people, I kept my feelings bottled up. But the workshop helped me realise that I could talk to people and they would listen and they would understand. It helped me to understand other people better too.
It also helped me to see I was living for today and I wasn’t living for tomorrow. I wasn’t thinking about the future. So I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life because I knew I didn’t want to keep coming back to jail. I reconnected with the fact there was so much more to life; that there is always a solution to any problem; and that the impossible is possible.
I’ve left prison for the last time and I’m not going back. I know I can make it.
I had lost belief in myself but the whole programme – the workshop and one-to-one coaching – restored the belief that I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. It also opened my eyes to all the other possibilities and avenues that I could take to achieve what I wanted in life.
The coaches saw the spark in me that I hadn’t seen in myself for a long time, and it gave me hope that it wasn’t too late to change things.
When you feel like no one is listening to you and no one cares you start to resent the world, but the Spark Inside coaches made me feel heard and understood and helped me see the world in a different light.
I would love to see this course delivered to every person in prison, to anyone who has lost hope or direction so they can regain their focus and their belief in themselves.
Our second programme is currently in development.
We aim to catalyse culture change on whole prison wings, to create safer spaces that support rehabilitation.
Prisons become places of rehabilitation when both prisoners and staff take joint responsibility for co-creating a safe and supportive culture.
We are the first to bring systems coaching methodology into UK prisons. We piloted this new approach at HMPs Belmarsh, Brixton and Pentonville.
Systems coaching works with large groups. Up to 60 representatives of a prison wing – staff and prisoners – participate in a series of workshops together that are specially designed to encourage dialogue, reduce conflict and tension, and inspire empathy and cooperation.
The systems coaching workshop at HMP Pentonville has given us a chance to understand what staff, young and old inmates go through and how they feel about prison.
Introducing this programme has really made a difference, because it gave the young offenders a chance to see the staff’s point of view, and see the older inmates’ point of view. The young people that attended have changed their behaviour, in the way they talk and act with the officers. I see a different approach in how they are dealing with day-to-day issues. When before they had a really negative attitude, now they’re kind of understanding, you know it’s not because officers don’t want to do something, they haven’t the time to do what I am requesting. When you hear the officers’ sides and see what they’re struggling with, you begin to realise it’s not their fault. The young people are taking a more relaxed approach, they have a whole new attitude which is a good thing. It’s calmer and more relaxed, which eases the tension.
It gave officers a chance to express as well, how they actually feel. You really think they have it easy, they go home at the end of the night and we’re here. You know we suffer this punishment, we’re going through all of this. But at the same time it’s frustrating for them as well.
The young people are taking a more relaxed approach, they have a whole new attitude which is a good thing. It’s calmer and more relaxed, which eases the tension.
It gave me a greater understanding of the situation we are in right now. It helps people have a better understanding of each other, whether you are an inmate or staff. It’s given me a greater insight of what the officers are going through, and it is a really stressful job. It’s made the staff look at the inmates’ emotions and frustrations differently. It’s given them the chance to see a different emotional side to the prisoners.
Now we have a greater understanding about how to make things better within the community we live in. It’s made an impact and relieved tension.