Spark Inside’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2018/19 has just been published. Our CEO Baillie Aaron looks back on an amazingly successful year for Spark Inside and reflects on the on-going challenges within the prison system.
I’m filled with pride by the positive impact that Spark Inside, as a young organisation, has had on the lives of people who live and work in prison – and the growing role we are playing as an influential voice for change in the criminal justice sector.
Across prisons in London and the South East, we have seen the power of coaching. Our life coaching programme, Hero’s Journey™, demonstrates the extent to which coaching supports young people in prison to make significant life changes and improve their wellbeing. Our systems coaching programme, The Conversation Systems Coaching Programme ® (The Conversation), has shown us how people living and working together in prison can change the often violent and fraught environments.
Our two coaching programmes reached 436 people living and working in prisons in London and the South-East.
We reached the milestone of having worked with over 1,000 prisoners and prison staff since we were founded in 2012.
The highest percentage of young people in the history of Spark Inside accessed one-to-one coaching after participating in Hero’s Journey™ workshops.
We began the process of researching what an in-prison advisory function could look like, to support us to even better co-design programmes and communicate the voice of our participants and stakeholders in prison.
We started to create a manual for our Hero’s Journey™ programme in order to deliver a future pilot licensing scheme to further our impact across the UK.
Our first ever media campaign in January 2019 was highly successful, with two rare pieces of high profile national coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio London.
We recruited outstanding new Trustees and Board Fellows who met our skills gaps and shared our values to join our Board.
Key challenges during 2018/19 remained unchanged from the previous year:
Very little changed in 2018/19 with respect to the dire situation in prisons — if anything, it was worse with new record highs for violence, self-harm and suicide. Understaffing in prisons, ever-changing prison policy and worsening prison conditions remain very real problems. Delivering our coaching programmes within this context requires tremendous management and resilience.
However, despite these challenges, we continue to achieve our mission and strategic plan by ensuring our Values (‘Spark, Heart, Impact, Learning, Stickability and Innovation’) permeate through everything we do.
We couldn’t have made it this far without the championship of prison staff and Governors, the support of funding partners, and our amazing team of dedicated and tenacious coaches, staff and Trustees who go above and beyond to ensure we’re achieving our intended impact. Thank you to everyone who has supported Spark Inside to make it the very special organisation it is.