In July 2021, we embarked on our first ever pilot partnership project, in collaboration with the brilliant Lincolnshire Action Trust (LAT), to deliver our award-winning Hero’s Journey life coaching programme to young men in HMP Lincoln.
Our coaching in Lincoln is the first time Spark Inside has coached outside of London and the Southeast, so we were pleased to collaborate with such an experienced and trusted organisation as LAT.
Unlike mentoring, coaching offers no advice or guidance – it is about empowering young people to find their own solutions to their own problems, recognising young people as the experts of their own lives. We want to see coachingin prison available to any young person that wants it, beyond the London prisons that we currently work in, because it works. Coaching transforms lives, and that is why we are pioneers of this approach.
“You can’t do any of the other things, you can’t get people into employment, you can’t get people into housing, you can’t get people help, you can’t address drug and alcohol issues, you can’t address family issues until they (the prisoners) change their mindset, and I think we’re all of the same mind of that, that is the priority after improving their behaviours.”
- Reducing Reoffending Governor, HMP Lincoln
Since we began last Summer, our coaches have supported 16 young people in HMP Lincoln through the Hero’s Journey group workshops, and through over 60 additional one-to-one sessions. None of the young men had any previous experience of work or education in the prison, so their expectations of what they could achieve were low. But once they started on their Hero’s Journey, the impact it had on them was far greater than they had anticipated.
One young man who participated in the programme at HMP Lincoln told us:
“To be fair, to start off with, the reason I signed up to the Hero’s Journey was because the more that we did in prison the more likely we were to be moved to a Cat D [the least restrictive categorisation where prisoners are trusted in open conditions]… In the end what I got from the programme I cherished more than what I would have done going to a Cat D.”
He also told us:
“It was having that one person sat there believing in me that helped me. The coaches help bring out the better person in you”.
Throughout the pilot, we have measured the progress that the young people make using the Youth Star, a tool through which participants assess themselves against specific areas, including Making a Difference, Hopes and Dreams, Well-being, Education and Work, Communicating, Choices and Behaviour. What we have found, examining the outcome data from the first 9 participants, is that on average, the young people made progress in 4 of the 6 outcome areas. The area which showed the largest number of people reporting a positive change was Hopes and Dreams, closely followed by Choices and Behaviour, and Education and Work. Whilst we are now in the final run in our partnership pilot, we are still actively coaching a group of young people, whose progress is yet to be included in the outcome data, so we’re looking forward to seeing what they report.
Our experience of partnering with LAT has been extremely positive, and we’re so proud of the work that our coaches have been able to deliver, thanks to the support of LAT’s fantastic team and the prison staff at HMP Lincoln. It was even the simplest of things that made a huge difference, like being given access to a room with refreshments available for the coaches and young people. This may seem standard, but in a prison environment, it is not guaranteed.
This pilot has shown us that working with a partner like LAT, who are experienced, efficient, values-led and committed to rehabilitation, enables us to deliver coaching to a very high standard, which ultimately leads to the best possible outcomes for the young people we work with.
We are hopeful that we can secure funding to continue our work with LAT, and other partners, and provide excellent programmes for the young people in HMP Lincoln, and potentially beyond. In the coming years we want to reach more young people than ever before and expand our reach beyond the boundaries of London. We are delighted that through this partnership we have been able to take the first step on the journey towards our national vision.